Friday, November 20, 2009

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America released the Top 10 Astros prospects today, and they take their shots at the Astros (and are completely justified):

At the July 31 trading deadline, the Astros had a .500 record and ranked sixth in the National League wild-card race. Despite having the oldest roster in baseball and a run differential that suggested the team was due for regression, Houston stood pat rather than seizing an opportunity to trade big leaguers and rebuild a farm system that ranked dead last entering 2009.

The Astros tanked afterward, finishing 74-88 to drop to 17 games under .500 since they played in the 2005 World Series. Despite the eighth-highest Opening Day payroll ($103 million), Houston ranked 27th in baseball in scoring and 23rd in runs allowed.

The Crawfish Boxes have a good take that it was the easiest thing in the world to just trade a bunch of guys on July 31:

(Writer Ben Badler) makes it sound like the Astros had an easy fix this year at the trade deadline. Assuming the Astros do trade Valverde and Hawkins, do they really just steal away so many prospects that produces a night and day difference for the farm system's ranking? Maybe...but I don't think it's as dramatic as Balder tries to portray it.

Back to Badler:

Focusing on the big league club and neglecting their farm system, the Astros haven't acquired a significant prospect via trade in years. Instead, their strategy has been to sign veteran free agents (costing them draft picks as compensation) and to deal prospects for veterans. That philosophy proved painful last season when Ben Zobrist emerged as one of the game's better players, three years after Houston sent him to the Rays in a deal for Aubrey Huff. Zobrist wasn't highly regarded at the time but has proven a costly loss.

Okay, okay. Let's McGwire this, and not talk about the past:

Bobby Heck's first draft as scouting director in 2008 has yielded two promising prospects, catcher Jason Castro and righthander Jordan Lyles. Neither was a consensus choice at their draft slots, but Houston has seen rewards from going against the industry grain...

...Houston's 2009 first-rounder, shortstop Jiovanni Mier, also has exceeded expectations thus far.

Then there's some bad stuff, then this:

Where do the Astros go from here? Heck was a regional crosschecker for the Brewers when they built through the draft and jumped from No. 30 to No. 1 in BA's talent rankings from 2001 to 2004. Houston will have a prime opportunity to add to its system with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, its highest selection since taking Phil Nevin No. 1 overall in 1992.

Dealing their big leaguers for youngsters could accelerate an Astros turnaround as well. But under owner Drayton McLane, the team has shied away from committing to rebuilding.

It hasn't occurred to me until reading this, but rebuilding would get the Astros into contention faster than just hoping that Mike Hampton-esque players can recapture one last season of magic. There's little chance that this crop of Astros can get to the playoffs before 2013, so why not chuck it in, shed some payroll, and get the farm team stocked.

Anyhow, let's get to the Top 10, ranked by Baseball America:
1. Jason Castro, c
2. Jiovanni Mier, ss
3. Jordan Lyles, rhp
4. Sammy Gervacio, rhp
5. Chia-Jen Lo, rhp
6. Ross Seaton, rhp
7. Tanner Bushue, rhp
8. Jay Austin, of
9. Jon Gaston, of
10. T.J. Steele, of

Best Hitter for Average: Jason Castro
Best Power Hitter: Jon Gaston
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: J.B. Shuck
Fastest Baserunner: Jay Austin
Best Athlete: Jay Austin
Best Fastball: Arcenio Leon
Best Curveball: Ashton Mowdy
Best Slider: Sammy Gervacio
Best Changeup: Jordan Lyles
Best Control: Fernando Abad
Best Defensive Catcher: Jason Castro
Best Defensive Infielder: Jiovanni Mier
Best Infield Arm: Jiovanni Mier
Best Defensive Outfielder: T.J. Steele
Best Outfield Arm: Yordany Ramirez

Que interesante! I'm surprised by the absence of Locke and Clemens. you?