The Houston Astros farm system has consistently ranked in the top ten in recent years.
But oh, how the times have changed for the Houston Astros. Numerous trades since the end of the 2014 season to improve the major league roster has somewhat depleted the minor league system. Of course this was partly spurred on by the team’s new found status as a contender in 2015. So where does the Astros farm system rank, at least by ESPN standards? The answer may surprise you, or it may not.
Per Keith Law of ESPN, the Astros farm system ranks 17th overall heading into the 2016 season. Yes, you read that right. 17th overall. That is a far drop from their third overall ESPN ranking this time last year. This year the Atlanta Braves actually take home the top spot with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, and Milwaukee Brewers round out the top five. Nothing surprising there considering all of the prospects each of those franchises currently have stashed in their system.
For the Astros ranking in 2016, however, the primary culprit appears to be the large amount of prospects leaving the organization as a result from the numerous trades that has helped propel the Astros back to the upper echelon in baseball.
Notable prospects traded since January 2015:
- RHP Mike Foltynewicz
- 3B Rio Ruiz
- RHP Andrew Thurman
- RHP Daniel Mengden
- C Jacob Nottingham
- RHP Adrian Houser
- LHP Josh Hader
- OF Brett Phillips
- OF Domingo Santana
- RHP Mark Appel
- RHP Thomas Eshelman
- RHP Vincent Velasquez
- RHP Harold Arauz
Anytime a franchise trades numerous top prospects in a short amount of time like the Astros did, then a drop in farm system quality should be expected. Throw in the fact that there were also a few highly ranked prospects (Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker) promoted to Houston would also cause a lower ranking as well. Another reason is also due to a lack of another uber prospect like Correa. While prospects like A.J. Reed, Francis Martes, and Bregman are deserving of their top prospect status, they don’t necessarily possess the same tools or upside that Correa exhibited in his minor league career.
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However, this doesn’t mean that Mr. Law is completely down on the Astros. And you shouldn’t be either. Consider this: the Astros still had an impressive 2015 draft class which was headlined by Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Daz Cameron. And then there is the upcoming June draft which will hopefully add more quality prospects to the system. Basically there is still plenty of promise within the organization for the future.
In terms of division impact, the Astros farm system is second highest rated in the American League West. Only the Texas Rangers come in higher with a ninth overall ranking. The Oakland Athletics are actually rated right behind the Astros at 18th while the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels are each ranked 28th and 30th overall. And for Houston to compete long term in the division, a strong farm system that is constantly churning out quality talent will be needed.
In all honesty, the Astros have the feel of an average to slightly above average farm system. Of course that could be the bias setting in from this blogger. However, a 17th overall ranking from baseball guru Keith Law isn’t unreasonable. There has been plenty of turnover in the system, and plenty of teams have improve their farm as of late. But the future is still bright in Houston.
**Please note that Keith Law’s article requires an ESPN Insider account to view**