The Astros farm system has played a large role in the club's recent success, which includes a World Series championship, two pennants and an MLB-best 311 victories during the last three seasons. While the big league club remains strong, the organization needs to replenish its Minor League talent.
Houston assembled one of the game's strongest systems in the middle of the last decade, then used it to build a formidable lineup around first-round picks (George Springer, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman) and to trade for a trio of aces. The Astros gave up 12 youngsters, including eight present or former MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects (Seth Beer, J.B. Bukauskas, Daz Cameron, Michael Feliz, Corbin Martin, Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove, Franklin Perez) and three others who have reached the big leagues, in exchange for Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke. They also parted with Vince Velasquez, Ramón Laureano and J.D. Davis in smaller deals.
After going all-in at the big league level for several years, Houston has just one prospect on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list: enigmatic right-hander Forrest Whitley. There aren't any slam-dunk big league regulars among the system's position players and its pitching stands out more for depth than difference-makers.
Even as the organization regroups from the sign-stealing scandal and transitions from the leadership of fired GM Jeff Luhnow to successor James Click, it remains confident in its ability to use analytics and technology to polish unheralded signees into viable big league pitchers. World Series standout Jose Urquidy, Bryan Abreu and Cristian Javier are three examples who debuted with the Astros in 2019 and could claim larger roles this season.
Houston attempted to bolster its stock of position prospects by using it first four Draft picks last June on catcher Korey Lee, infielder Grae Kessinger and outfielders Jordan Brewer and Colin Barber. Most teams viewed Lee as more of a third-round talent, but the Astros loved his raw power and arm strength and paid him $1.75 million as the 32nd overall choice.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list.
Jump: Jose Urquidy, RHP (2019: NR | 2020: 2) -- He began the season as an unknown and ended it with five shutout innings in Game 4 of the World Series, relying heavily on his changeup and his command.
Fall: Peter Solomon, RHP (2019: 12 | 2020: NR) -- On the verge of a breakout, he instead blew out his elbow in April and had Tommy John surgery in June.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 -- Abraham Toro (Grae Kessinger, Luis Santana)
Power: 55 -- Taylor Jones (Korey Lee)
Run: 65 -- Jordan Brewer
Arm: 70 -- Freudis Nova
Defense: 60 -- Jeremy Pena (Taylor Jones)
Fastball: 70 -- Jojanse Torres (Jose Alberto Rivera)
Curveball: 70 -- Bryan Abreu
Slider: 60 -- Bryan Abreu (Enoli Paredes, Forrest Whitley)
Changeup: 60 -- Brett Conine (Jose Urquidy, Forrest Whitley)
Control: 60 -- Jose Urquidy
How they were built
Draft: 16 | International: 12 | Trade: 2
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 11 | 2021: 7 | 2022: 9 | 2023: 2 | 2024: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 1 | SS: 4 | OF: 3 | RHP: 17 | LHP: 1