The Astros haven't ranked higher than 28th since we extended our biannual farm-system rankings to include all 30 organizations at the start of 2020. That hasn't stopped them from making three more playoff appearances -- extending their streak to seven consecutive years -- while winning two American League West titles, two pennants and the 2022 World Series.
Cristian Javier (2020), Luis Garcia (2021) and Jeremy Peña (2022) all went from relatively unheralded homegrown prospects to getting AL Rookie of the Year votes. Peña became the first rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove and the second rookie to win both Championship Series and World Series MVP awards. The system has cranked out more contributors beyond that trio in the past three seasons, most notably José Urquidy, Chas McCormick and Bryan Abreu.
Expect more of the same in 2023. Houston will chase another championship and right-hander Hunter Brown, their lone Top 100 prospect, will be a prime Rookie of the Year candidate. Yainer Diaz, the most underrated catching prospect in the game, or 2019 first-rounder Korey Lee could make significant contributions behind the plate.
After losing their top two picks in the 2020 and 2021 Drafts as punishment for their sign-stealing scandal, the Astros took advantage of a full complement of selections last July. They spent their first two choices on star college outfielders Drew Gilbert and Jacob Melton and saved enough bonus-pool money to lavish $1,131,530 on prep outfielder Ryan Clifford in the 11th round.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2022 preseason list to the 2023 preseason list.
Jump: Justin Dirden, OF (2022: unranked | 2023: 9) -- The 2020 undrafted free agent from Southeast Missouri State has some of the best raw power in the system and led the Double-A Texas League in slugging percentage (.616) and OPS (1.027) last year.
Fall: Alex Santos, RHP (2022: 10 | 2023: unranked) -- Houston's top pick (supplemental second round) in the 2020 Draft saw his fastball velocity back up while going 0-11 with a 5.99 ERA as he repeated Single-A.
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 -- Yainer Diaz (Drew Gilbert, Kenni Gomez)
Power: 55 -- Yainer Diaz (Luis Baez, Ryan Clifford, Camilo Diaz, Corey Julks, Korey Lee, Jacob Melton)
Run: 70 -- Logan Cerny
Arm: 70 -- Pedro Leon (Korey Lee)
Defense: 55 -- Drew Gilbert (Logan Cerny, Kenedy Corona, Kenni Gomez, Pedro Leon, Jacob Melton)
Fastball: 70 -- Miguel Ullola
Curveball: 65 -- Hunter Brown
Slider: 60 -- Shawn Dubin (Spencer Arrighetti, Edinson Batista, Hunter Brown, Misael Tamarez)
Changeup: 60 -- Jose Fleury
Control: 60 -- Colton Gordon
How they were built
Draft: 17 | NDFA: 1 | International: 9 | Trade: 3
Breakdown by ETA
2023: 11 | 2024: 7 | 2025: 7 | 2026: 2 | 2027: 2 | 2028: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 1 | SS: 1 | OF: 13 | RHP: 11 | LHP: 1