In December of 2009 there was no farm system in the Major Leagues worse than the Houston Astros according to Baseball America.
“The Astros' system is full of holes -- it hasn't produced a team with a winning record since 2007,” were some of the comments BA used to describe the state of the organization. The big league club was one year removed from its last winning season, having slipped to a 74-88 record and a fifth place finish in the NL Central.
But now the Astros finally flipped the script. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Astros as the top minor league system in the majors on Tuesday. It took 50 months and three consecutive worst seasons in franchise history to get there, but the foundation is finally in place for the Astros rebound
The process began in 2010 with three picks in the first 33 selections of the June draft and a willingness to tear down the existing roster with the trade of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman mid-season.
The Astros top 20 prospects ranked by MLB.com are hardly a complete picture of the turnaround, but the timeline of how the players were acquired is an interesting snapshot of how the Astros rebuilt the franchise. The turnaround started under Ed Wade's tenure, though most of the players were accumulated by Jeff Luhnow. Twelve of the prospects were drafted by the club, Five were drafted when Ed Wade was the GM, seven under Jeff Luhnow’s watch. Seven players were acquired through trades and one was signed as a free agent from the Dominican Republic.
Below is the timeline of how and when the Astros acquired their top 20 prospects on their climb from the worst to first farm system in the majors.
|June 2010||MLB Draft||1st Round||OF Delino DeShields Jr|
RHP Mike Foltynewicz*
|2nd Round||RHP Vincent Velasquez|
|2/17/2011||Free Agent||Dom. Rep.||OF Teoscar Hernandez|
|June 2011||MLB Draft||1st Round||OF George Springer|
|5th Round||RHP Nick Tropeano|
|7/29/2011||Trade w/PHI||(Pence)||1B Jonathan Singleton|
|OF Domingo Santana|
|June 2012||MLB Draft||1st Round||SS Carlos Correa|
|Supp.||RHP Lance McCullers|
|2nd Round||SS Nolan Fontana|
|4th Round||3B Rio Ruiz|
|7th Round||OF Preston Tucker|
|7/20/2012||Trade w/TOR||(Happ, Lyon)||RHP Asher Wojciechowski**|
|2/4/2013||Trade w/OAK||(Lowrie)||C Max Stassi|
|June 2013||MLB Draft||1st Round||RHP Mark Appel|
|2nd Round||RHP Andrew Thurman|
|7/31/13||Trade w/BAL||(Norris)||RHP Josh Hader|
|7/31/13||Trade w/KC||(Maxwell)||RHP Kyle Smith|
*Pick acquired from Detroit for losing in Jose Valverde in free agency.
**Part of the deal with Toronto involved the Astros sending J.A. Happ to the Blue Jays. Happ who was acquired by the Astros in the Roy Oswalt trade with Philadelphia July of 2010.