Fallas and Levine's article on the return of the farm system makes me feel all tingly again.
Baseball America's Ben Badler:
"There are three basic ways to build a good farm system — by doing well on the draft, signing international talent and, in the event that your major league club isn't a contender, trading away big league talent for prospects. For years, the Astros didn't do any of them particularly well."
Bobby Heck, on where the Astros should be ranked in organizational systems:
"I would say we’re probably anywhere between 20 and 24, and even on par with that group. Looking at the players and the number of players who jumped levels last year and the number of players who had success out of the 2008 draft, individually there’s a lot of good things."
On how they'll recover:
The Astros abandoned draft-day tendencies of shying away from high school picks and of chasing mostly pitchers, arguably the most prized but also the riskiest commodity in baseball. For the past two drafts, the team has signed its picks, and the international arm of scouting has reached out to Asia. Also, the Astros say they won't hesitate to create an express line for a player to the majors if he proves he can handle it (if Castro makes the roster, he will have skipped Class AAA Round Rock), and the team has opened an academy in the Dominican Republic. Since last year, the team has a Gulf Coast League affiliate.
This answers a pretty important question I was planning on posing this week, but now may not need to: Sure, the farm system is a wreck in Corpus and Round Rock, but where would the Astros rank if you solely looked at the last two drafts? Much higher. While there's nowhere else to go but up, I think we can expect to see the Astros take a dramatic step forward as some Triple-A guys get moved out and Heck's guys take hold in the system. And then there's the all-important 2010 draft, where the Astros have a chance to take a number of early draft picks.
In Buster Olney's blog today, he comments on the Chronicle's article:
Here's the bottom line: The teams that have adhered closely to the slotting bonus guidelines set forth by the Commissioner's Office have seen the quality of their prospects dwindle, and the teams that have painted outside the slotting system lines -- the Tigers, the Red Sox -- have thrived. The Astros have been one of the teams that followed the slotting guidelines.
So screw you, Bud Selig, and your slotting guidelines.