Coming into the season, the Astros were talking about a much improved farm system. Bolstered by the trades of Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, the Astros had added a pair of speedy infielders in Jimmy Paredes and Jonathan Villar, and had signed lanky outfielder Ariel Ovando to a club-record signing bonus. Now, after trading Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Jeff Keppinger, the Astros have added even more depth and impact prospect talent and figure to have gone from a bottom five farm system to a team comfortably in the top 20.
Read on to hear my take on who are the top 10 prospects in the organization.
- Jonathan Singleton, 1B: The highest upside bat in the minors, Singleton should hit for a lot of power and average and could develop into a franchise cornerstone. It's dangerous to rank players still in High-A as a system's top prospect, but he looks like the real deal.
- Jarred Cosart, RHP: With an electric fastball and impressive off-speed stuff, Cosart has all the makings of a top of the rotation starter. However, because of a few mechanical issues, he could be a major injury risk and that's what keeps him from being on top of this list.
- George Springer, CF/OF: Another extremely high upside bat, Springer has the potential to be a true five-tool outfielder. He's extremely athletic, hits for power, but is still a bit raw. Though he's a tremendous prospect, people expecting him to fly through the minors need to be ready for some growing pains as he is not as polished as the average top college prospect.
- Paul Clemens, RHP: Some will say that this ranking is a bit aggressive, but Clemens has a chance to be a very, very good major league pitcher. Pairing a strong sinker with a nice curveball and slider, Clemens has begun to blossom as a pitcher this year in his promotion to AA. If he can keep this up, he could become a #2 starter on a good team, but his floor is as a late-inning reliever.
- Jonathan Villar, SS: A slick fielding shortstop who has begun to hit for some power this year, Villar has the tools to become a solid MLB shortstop. This ranking is mostly based on upside as he still needs to show an ability to consistently hit for average, but if he figures it out, he could be a good asset for years to come at a premium position.
- Mike Foltynewicz, RHP: The top pitching prospect in the Astros' system before the mid-season trades, Foltynewicz has been a bit overshadowed by the influx of talent in recent months. Despite a rough start to the season, Folty has managed a fairly solid second half of the year. Though he appears headed to a repeat of Lexington next year, the future is still bright for Foltynewicz.
- Brett Oberholtzer, LHP: Obertholzer appears to be a better version of another pitcher in the Astros system, Dallas Keuchel. Lacking dominant velocity on his fastball but having two other solid off-speed offerings, Oberholtzer is a solid starting pitching prospect with a fairly high floor. If he has a solid first half in AAA next year, Obie could find himself in a major league rotation by year's end.
- Domingo Santana, OF: While Cosart and Singleton have the hype from the Hunter Pence deal, Santana is another player the Phillies gave up that could really make them regret making this deal. At barely 19 years old, Santana is already hitting for power and profiles as a very good outfielder going forward. Though he is 3-5 years away from the majors, Santana could become an All-Star if things go well.
- Ariel Ovando, OF: At just 17, Ariel Ovando is among the youngest players in the entire minor leagues and is still holding his own. The production is still a bit underwhelming, but Ovando's incredible athletic profile and youth make him a top 10 prospect.
- Delino Deshields Jr., 2B/OF: Much like Ovando, Deshields' ranking is based mostly on a combination of extreme upside and youth. While the merits of sending Deshields to full-season ball in his age-18 season are debatable, he has shown enough improvement over the second half of the year to stay on this list. Where he ends up next year will be interesting as the Astros have been very aggressive over the last few years in promoting prospects.