Top 25 – Houston Astros – MiLB
The first notable piece of the system is the success of its younger prospects. The Astros are not an organization whose top prospects are 23-25 years old and knocking on the door of the MLB. Instead, this system has found talented players and cultured them to success much earlier in their development cycle. Many of the athletes in the system look like players that can make an MLB impact by the age of 22, with many having a chance to contribute even earlier than that.
The system boasts many pitching prospects that I see as should be future big league starters, with a select five pitchers that be frontline starters when it’s all said and done: Francis Martes, David Paulino, Forrest Whitley, Franklin Perez, and Hector Perez. Far from top-heavy, they also have several other arms that profile as potential MLB rotation, though perhaps not frontline starters.
From a position player development point of view, the Astro’s system looks about the same as it always has. Houston’s system of position players looks to develop in the same way it always has. In the most challenging defensive positions, the Astros have developed and drafted quick and agile players with a good sense of the strike zone. Though they have some power scattered throughout them, the outfield, second base, and shortstop prospects are all hit-tool oriented, contact first prospects with top tier speed potential. In the corner infield, it is quite the opposite. Many 1B/3B prospects in the system (with the exception of Colin Moran) find their struggles primarily with the glove rather than with the bat. It is evident that the Astro’s have a clear, fully formed plan for their scouting, drafting, and development process that has come to fruition to provide in providing some of the best talent in baseball. This isn’t something commonplace across all clubs at the professional level. The majority of other organizations’ processes appear more sporadic and case-by-case, valuing athleticism or signability rather than targeting specific make-ups. The Houston’s specific, targeted process is what will likely keep the Astros them as one of the league’s best premiere organizations when it comes to developing top prospects.
That none of this is any different going into 2017, as their farm system is plenty deep and features enough youth to see a very productive future for many years to come.