Although unloading prospects and losing draft picks, Baseball America is still high on a few Astros’ prospects.
Many non-Houston Astros‘ fans of Major League Baseball did not feel the punishment fit the offense in the aftermath of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. However, with the recent release of Baseball America’s updated 2021 Midseason MLB Organization Talent Rankings this last week, I am here to assure you all that the hit to the organization has never been felt more than now.
The Astros were ranked a lowly 29th out of the 30 MLB teams. Only the Chicago White Sox lagged behind the Houston Astros in 30th place. This comes as no surprise as the Astros are in a unique position with their first and second round draft picks being surrendered for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Penalties aside, the Astros aren’t in a place that is particularly unique to the amount of success the major-league club has had.
As we have seen time and time again over the years, successful teams tend to slide in the organizational talent rankings when they leverage future talent for a player who can help their ball club at the Major League level.
This was never more evident than with the move that sent four minor league Astros’ prospects to Arizona; including, starting pitchers Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, first baseman/outfielder Seth Beer and utility man Josh Rojas for Zack Greinke. In hindsight, it was a great trade as the Houston Astros got stellar play from Zack Greinke, and they didn’t have to give up the highly-touted prospect of the time, Kyle Tucker.
Despite the years of unloading prospects, the Astros have made five out six postseason appearances. Of those five trips to the postseason, the Astros have won a World Series, appeared in another, lost in two AL Championship Series and lost in an AL Divisional Series. Folks, that is not a bad run at all when the ultimate goal is World Series’ wins.
The organization’s talent situation is not all doom and gloom though. The Astros still have 23 year old catching prospect, Korey Lee. The Astros’ first-round pick in 2019, Lee currently ranks ninety-five on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects Rankings, as of August 9th 2021.
Korey Lee is having a fantastic season. After being promoted to Double-A’s Corpus Christi Hooks back in June, he has steadily improved his offensive game by making adjustments to his batting stance and approach at the plate.
He’s also proven to be the best defensive catcher in the Astros’ farm system. Additionally, Hunter Brown, who was recently promoted to the Sugar Land Skeeters, is making a case for himself to climb into the aforementioned Top 100 Prospect Rankings with his stellar performance this season.
The organization also remains extremely effective in developing young pitching talent, regardless of ranking on a media prospect rank list. You could look to Jose Urquidy, Christian Javier, Framber Valdez, or Luis Garcia as prime examples.
While they might not be stars the pitchers are turning out to be, even the position players like Myles Straw, Abraham Toro, and more recently, Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers and Taylor Jones, have proven to be productive in various capacities with the big league club. There are certainly more big league-ready players sure to come.
On top of organizational talent development, general manager James Click is still coming into his own as a first time general manager with the Astros. With his hands tied by the loss of two years worth of first and second round players, he has had to find unique ways of acquiring talent.
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For example, he has effectively established a strong pipeline to the Cuban baseball community. This was highlighted by the Astros signing the number one 2020-2021 Baseball America International Prospect, Pedro León.
No matter on whether or not the sign-stealing penalties handed down by Major League Baseball were severe enough or not, the penalties that were leveled have certainly have hurt the Houston Astros, as that was the point.
Yet, as long as the Click continues to work the international prospect market, and the organization continues to developing late-round draftees, the Astros should at the very least avoid being the worst farm system in the MLB just in-time for the 2022 MLB Draft.