Overall Minor League Record: (282-213, .570) - 2nd out of 30 MLB organizations
MINORS SUCCESS: Houston’s minor league affiliates have posted a combined 277-209 record this season, good for 2nd among all 30 MLB organizations...all 8 of the Astros minor league affiliates have winning percentages over .500...the Double A Corpus Christi Hooks, Class A Advanced Lancaster JetHawks, Class A Short Season Tri-City ValleyCats and Rookie Level Greeneville Astros are all currently in first place...the JetHawks and Hooks already qualified for postseason play by winning their respective league’s first-half titles...last year, Houston’s domestic minor league clubs had the best combined winning percentage among all organizations...Houston had the lowest winning percentage in both 2010 and 2011.
‘TIS THE SEASON: Most websites and publications have been rolling out their revised top prospect lists, and the Astros have fared very well thus far...Houston had more players listed than any other MLB organization on both the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus midseason Top 50 Prospects lists...in Keith Law’s (ESPN.com) top 50 prospects update that went out today, the Astros were tied with the Twins for the most prospects listed (5) and the most prospects listed in the top ten (2).
THE PIPELINE: Prospects from the Astros system have already started to make their way to Houston...RHP Jarred Cosart made his MLB debut on July 12 against the Tampa Bay Rays, defeating reigning Cy Young Award winner David Price after allowing just 2 hits over 8.0 scoreless innings...Cosart had a no-hit bid thru 6.0 innings and became the 1st pitcher in Astros history to toss 8.0+ scoreless innings in their Major League debut...RHP Jose Cisnero, RHP Paul Clemens, RHP Josh Fields, OF Robbie Grossman, OF Marc Krauss and LHP Brett Oberholtzer have also made their MLB debuts this season with the Astros.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG: Baseball America recently came out with their midseason Minor League All-Star Team, and OF George Springer made the cut as 1 of just 9 position players named to the squad...Springer has continued his rapid ascent through the Astros minor league system and is the only player in pro baseball with 25+ homers and 25+ stolen bases this year...the former 1st round pick is looking to become the first minor leaguer to tally 30 homers and 30 steals since Oakland’s Grant Desme in 2009.
THE DRAFT: The Astros had another successful draft this year, using their first three picks on college pitchers: Stanford RHP Mark Appel, UC-Irvine RHP Andrew Thurman and UNC LHP Kent Emanuel...the Astros signed 32 of their 40 total players selected in the 2013 draft, including each of their top 14 picks...Appel (2.00 ERA, 3G) and Thurman (2.08 ERA, 5G) have already gotten off to strong starts to their professional careers.
ALL AROUND THE WORLD: Director of International Oz Ocampo has been leading the Astros efforts around the world, and since the July 2 signing period opened the club has signed 9 total international players: C Jake Bowey (AUS), SS/OF Osvaldo Duarte (DR), SS Frankeny Fernandez (DR), SS Wander Franco (DR), RF Felix Lucas (DR), SS/C Jonathan Matute (VZ), SS Joan Mauricio (DR), CF Nestor Tejada (VZ), and C Hayden Timberlake (AUS)...5 were signed from the Dominican Republic, 2 from Venezuela and 2 from Australia...POOL TRADE: the Astros were also able to acquire IF Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in exchange for international signing pool space...Torreyes, 20, has already reached the Double A level...he has posted a career .312 batting average in the minors with 92 walks and just 84 strikeouts in 1290 at-bats.
FUTURES PHENOMS: Along with the Mets, the Astros had more prospects participate in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game this year than any other MLB organization...CF George Springer, 2B Delino DeShields and SS Carlos Correa each played in the game, while Corpus Christi Hooks manager and the 2012 Texas League Manager of the Year Keith Bodie served on the coaching staff for the U.S. Team...Springer went 1x3 as the U.S. Team’s starting centerfielder...DeShields started the game at second base while Correa entered the game at shortstop as a late-inning defensive replacement...Correa won the first ever Futures Game Finalist fan-vote to claim the last spot on the World Team’s roster...the former 1st overall pick was the youngest player at the Futures Game.
RETOOLING: General Manager Jeff Luhnow has been retooling the Astros minor league system since taking over in December of 2011...in his 1st year with Houston, Luhnow made 9 trades and received 24 total players in return...this February, Luhnow flipped shortstop Jed Lowrie and reliever Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland in exchange for IF/OF Chris Carter, RHP Brad Peacock and C Max Stassi...Carter currently leads the Astros in homers (18) and RBI (47)...Peacock has gone 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA (5ER/37.1IP) and 30 strikeouts in his last 6 starts since returning to Triple A on 6/13...Stassi, the Astros top catching prospect, is hitting .322 (19x59) with 6 homers, 15 RBI and a 1.101 OPS in his last 15 games, ranking 2nd in the Texas League in homers over that span.
PATIENCE: The Astros minor league system is currently tops in the minors in walks with 1998 on the season...the next closest organization is Seattle, as their minor league affiliates have drawn 1903 total walks in 2013...the Class A Advanced Lancaster JetHawks lead all of minor league baseball with 470 walks while the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits rank 3rd with 426...the Astros organization also leads the minors with a .345 on-base percentage.
LUHNOW TOPS BA LIST: According to Baseball America, of the 750 players on Opening Day rosters this year, 572 of them (76 percent) came through the draft...those 572 players were selected by 93 different scouting directors...of those 93, the scouting director to produce the most Major Leaguers is current Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow...while serving as the Cardinals scouting director from 2005-11, Luhnow drafted 21 players that were on Major League rosters this Opening Day.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Heading into the season, several analysts and publications had drastically improved their rating of the Astros minor league system: ESPN’s Keith Law - 4th of 30 (27th in 2012)...Baseball Prospectus - 9th of 30 (26th in 2012)...Baseball America - 9th of 30 (18th in 2012)...NOTABLE: Keith Law, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus ranked the St. Louis Cardinals as having the top system in baseball heading into the 2013 season...Astros GM Jeff Luhnow served as the Cardinals VP of Scouting/Player Development for several years prior to joining Houston in December of 2011.
Level Team Record (Place)
AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks 51-46 (3rd)
AA Corpus Christi Hooks 55-40 (1st)
A+ Lancaster JetHawks 57-40 (1st)
A Quad Cities River Bandits 52-41 (3rd)
Level Team Record (Place)
SSA Tri-City ValleyCats 20-10 (1st)
R Greeneville Astros 15-10 (1st)
R GCL Astros 12-10 (2nd)
R DSL Astros 20-16 (3rd)
ESPN.com Top 50 Prospects
7. Carlos Correa SS
9. Mark Appel RHP
29. George Springer CF
33. Jon Singleton 1B
46. Mike Foltynewicz RHP
Baseball America Top 50 Prospects
9. Carlos Correa SS
20. George Springer CF
22. Jon Singleton 1B
31. Mike Foltynewicz RHP
46. Lance McCullers RHP
Baseball Prospectus Top 50 Prospects
16. Carlos Correa SS
18. Mark Appel RHP
30. George Springer CF
36. Jon Singleton 1B
49. Mike Foltynewicz RHP