The Astros came in sixth in MLB Pipeline's latest farm system rankings, and they stand apart from the five teams who ranked ahead of them in an enviable way.
Houston has enjoyed four consecutive winning seasons that include the 2017 World Series championship and 17 postseason victories. During that same time period, the Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays and White Sox -- listed alphabetically so as to not give away the yet-be-revealed order of our top five -- have combined for four over-.500 seasons and 11 playoff wins.
No organization is doing a better job than the Astros at sustaining success in the big leagues and player development at the same time. Each of their six Top 100 Prospects could contribute in the Majors in 2019 if needed, with Kyle Tucker and Josh James pushing for Opening Day jobs and Forrest Whitley, Yordan Alvarez, Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas ready later in the season.
The methods in which those six players were acquired testifies to the thoroughness of Houston's efforts. Whitley, Tucker and Bukauskas all were first-round picks, while Martin was a second-rounder. By contrast, Alvarez was stolen in a trade with the Dodgers for Josh Fields before he even made his pro debut, and James was a 34th-rounder from Western Oklahoma State JC whose stuff took off after the Astros worked with him. They're also doing good work on the international front, with their next-best prospects after the Top 100 group hailing from the Dominican Republic (shortstop Freudis Nova, right-hander Bryan Abreu) and Cuba (left-hander Cionel Perez).
Here's a look at the Astros' top prospects:
- Forrest Whitley, RHP
- Kyle Tucker, OF
- Yordan Alvarez, OF
- Josh James, RHP
- Corbin Martin, RHP
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2018 preseason list to the 2019 preseason list:
Jump: Josh James, RHP (2018: NR | 2019: 4) -- Stuff exploded last season as he led Minors in strikeout rate (13.5 per nine innings), pushed his way onto Houston's postseason roster.
Fall: Joe Perez, 3B (2018: 14 | 2019: NR) -- Former pitcher still has intriguing offensive potential but has played in just four pro games in two years after having Tommy John surgery.
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: 60 -- Kyle Tucker
Power: 60 -- Kyle Tucker
Run: 70 -- Myles Straw
Arm: 70 -- Deury Carrasco
Defense: 60 -- Jeremy Pena (Myles Straw)
Fastball: 70 -- Josh James (Forrest Whitley)
Curveball: 65 -- Bryan Abreu
Slider: 65 -- J.B. Bukauskas
Changeup: 65 -- Forrest Whitley
Control: 55 -- Corbin Martin
How they were built
Draft: 18 | International: 8 | Trade: 4
Breakdown by ETA
2019: 11 | 2020: 8 | 2021: 6 | 2022: 5
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 0 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 1 | SS: 4 | OF: 8 | RHP: 13 | LHP: 2