For this week’s Corpus Christi Hooks report, I don’t have my usual Who’s Hot, Who’s Not piece for the Astros AA affiliate. What I do have, however, is a question. Why is Corpus Christi such a hotbed for talent in the Astros organization? It seems like the Astros love to put their top prospects there and then promote them straight to Houston instead of stopping through AAA Fresno.
With the exception of Chad Qualls (don’t worry, Hooks fans, that stint was only temporary), Corpus Christi has a talent overload right now. That team down there has put together an unbelievable record, even through all the shuffling that the organization has gone through this season.
The top prospects in the Astros organization definitely have taken different paths to the major leagues, as really no path is the same as anyone on the road to the show. But, there are many who never even threw a pitch or swung a bat at the AAA level. Jose Altuve, Lance McCullers, and Vincent Velasquez are three big names that never set foot in Fresno (would have been Round Rock for Altuve). While guys like Carlos Correa and George Springer spent a fairly equal amount of time at the AA and AAA levels, they both had more plate appearances in AA.
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Then you could look at guys like Jonathan Singleton and Colin Moran, who have taken a lot of at-bats in Corpus Christi. Singleton has a total of almost 600 plate appearances for the Hooks while only having 294 in AAA on his road up to the Astros roster. The exception with him is that he really stunk in the majors, so the Astros sent him down again for another 250+ at-bats. Colin Moran had never seen AA before the Astros acquired him in the Jarred Cosart trade, but they immediately brought him to Corpus Christi and he hasn’t really been able to get out of there.
The main answer that makes sense to me is location. I think the Astros front office likes having their top prospects close to home, where they can gather a lot of data on them and send their scouts more frequently to keep track of their prospects. The Astros own the Hooks, so they might be able to set up more cameras and radar guns to keep a closer eye on the players from an analytical perspective.
I don’t know how promotions straight from AA to the Astros work and why they occur. However, my best guess is that the Astros front office is just convinced enough with the development and maturity of a young player to promote him and also likes his ability, of course. I’m not going to question these moves, however, as the last three seemed to have worked out pretty well for the Astros organization. With the way Brett Phillips is playing right now, maybe he’s next.
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