Even the most casual Houston Astros fan would be able to quickly identify the duo of top prospects in the minor league system. Mark Appel‘s struggles in 2014 were widely noted while Carlos Correa missed most of the season after an injury. But who can name the rest of the top 10 list?
With most of the Astros MiLB affiliates being so far away, fans such as myself have very little resources to get to know these players. Maybe this would all be a waste of time as prospects are known to break your heart. It is not difficult to understand why some players just fizzle out through the grinding process of 3+ years in the minor leagues.
Their life is rough. Unless they signed for a huge bonus out of the draft, all they really depend on is a really small pay check per month. That’s during the season. Most of these young men, college-aged, have to go seek out a part-time job during the offseason.
But that is another discussion in itself. Looking over the Astros list of players for the caravan this year I was a little disappointed. Maybe this can be considered a bittersweet trade-off as the team begins to improve. There is only one top prospect: Mark Appel. The rest of the players are all on the 40-man roster or Astros Legends. Which, I suppose, is a good thing as the tour is known as the “Astros Winter Caravan.”
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Still, I think that some people would like to get to know the Astros that they cannot watch on TV or at a ballgame. Or maybe I’m alone, constantly re-reading scouting reports on the top 10 list, dreaming of an Astros team that has one of the best rotations in the majors. Or dreaming of a team where the infield arrangement adds Carlos Correa and Rio Ruiz, if not AJ Reed to match with two-time All-Star Jose Altuve. Maybe by that time Altuve will have even started in the annual All-Star Game.
I find it a little ironic that the Astros have chosen to keep most of their top prospects very well hidden. Is this not the organization that has preached “the future is coming” and adopted a “build from within” policy?
Houston has already seen Preston Tucker, who is all but slated to make his debut this season. During last years’ Futures game Tucker hit two home runs as a member of the Corpus Christ Hooks. Colin Moran (who finished 2014 in Double-A) will also be coming to Houston for the FREE event from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, January 24 at Minute Maid Park. Why Tucker? Why not Teoscar Hernandez? More importantly, why is Moran, a guy that the Astros acquired via a trade in late July last season, held in a more favorable light publicly than homegrown prospects such as Rio Ruiz, Vincent Velasquez, or Tony Kemp?
I understand the idea of having mostly current Astros invited on the Winter Caravan and to the FanFest. All I’m saying is that some of the top prospects that Houston is not familiar with should be invited. We have the entire season to get to know the current players. Most of the future players? They’re so far away that all I can do is look at box scores.