The top five most improved farm systems have been named by MLB.com. The Houston Astros not only made the list, but were ranked the best of the five.
Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow has been outwardly protecting his future hopefuls, repeatedly suggesting that Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley, #1 and #2 prospects respectively, will not be involved in any trade transactions. It still remains to be seen whether that will be the case, but it’s one of the reasons Houston’s farm system was MLB.com’s most improved farm systems.
Tucker and Whitley are not only the Astros’ top two prospects but are also ranked in the top ten of MLB pipeline. Outfielder Yordan Alvarez and pitcher Josh James are right behind them as Houston’s #3 and #4 prospects and are in the top 100 in the league. But there are a lot more in the Astros’ top 30 that have shown tremendous promise.
One of those players that have vaulted up the rankings is 1B/OF Seth Beer. He’s ranked 7th on the team and the third highest ranked position player. Beer was a 2018 first-round draft pick out of Clemson that hasn’t disappointed at the plate. In his first year in the minors, he had a slash line of .304/.389/.496 with 12 HRs in 67 games. Beer’s question marks are with his lack of speed and defensive capabilities. He’ll be watched closely.
Six of the top ten of Houston’s prospects are pitchers and that may come in handy in the 2019 season. Even if Luhnow goes out and gets a starting pitcher or a reliever this offseason, Houston will most likely still rely heavily on these young hurlers. It’s probably safe to say, at the very least, the 5th spot of the starting rotation will be manned by one or two of these promising pitchers. James, Cionel Perez and possibly Whitley could also play a key role in the bullpen.
Their performance during the Spring Training games will tell a lot and their roles may change throughout the season. But one thing is for sure, Luhnow is protecting these kids for a good reason and we may find out, sooner rather than later, that it was a wise move.