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Weekly MiLB Discussion: Farm System Still Loaded

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Brian and Brooks discuss the state of the talent level on the farm despite losses of significant players.

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks

Here's a quote from Keith Law's chat this week.

Jeff: The Astros have graduated a few of their top prospects, but given the draft haul and pop up guys, how many top 100 players would you estimate them having in your top 100? Bregman, Tucker, Cameron, Martes, Reed must all be top 100 guys, right?
Klaw: Not sure about Cameron; his fame outstrips his reasonable potential, as his scouting report is all 50s and 60s, not 70s and 80s. The others are. Appel (still just 23, inconsistent, but with premium stuff and control) and Feliz are also probably top 100 guys.


Much has been made of how the Astros have lost a lot of prospects this season due to graduating to the majors or trading them away. Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr., Vincent Velasquez, Preston Tucker, Brett Phillips, Jacob Nottingham, Domingo Santana, Josh Hader, Adrian Houser. All gone.

Law had five Astros on the top 100 for 2015. In that same chat he mentioned AJ Reed as "Top 50 for sure" and Francis Martes as "possibly Top 50." With Alex Bregman already in Top 50, thats at least three there. Plus Appel, Tucker, and Feliz, the Astros could have six top 100 prospects next year.

How do you feel about that. Did you expect that? How are they able to lose several high end prospects to graduation/trades while strengthening the farm?

Brian

I feel great, obviously. Frankly, it was a concern of mine; I figured on Correa graduating at least, and possibly Tucker. I was expecting Appel up at some point, too. I figured we'd take a hit. But the draft was a boon with Bregman and Tuck 2, and Cameron, depending on how much you like him.

But let's be honest; unexpected breakouts are playing a role. Very few people, even though of us who were high on them both, thought Martes and Reed would do what they did this year. You can make a reasonable case for Reed being the best 1B prospect in baseball. Martes looks like a future #3 or better. Feliz quietly had an excellent year and really established himself as a top-shelf pitching talent by doing so well at AA.

And though they aren't listed, let's not forget guys like Joe Musgrove and David Paulino. Bostick, though he didn't finish well, certainly exceeded expectations, too. Those guys aren't Top 100 yet (though I'd put Musgrove in there, personally), but they could be soon. The common thread is that we got them for almost nothing, and that's become something of a theme with this front office. Reed had first-round power and discipline, but his body and hubbub over bat speed dropped him to us. Musgrove was part of that big trade where we lost Happ, who wasn't doing much for us. Martes was the throw in on the Cosart deal. Paulino was the throw in on two months of a third-tier closer. We got Bostick for a dime-a-dozen backup catcher.

This is a bit tangential, but it's on my mind; today, the Astros announced Matt Duffy's promotion. There's no telling how much he'll play or how good he'll be. It's doubtful he has a future with this franchise. But remember the kind of prospects that Luhnow has found for guys like Carlos Corporan and Jose Veras. Who's to say that, if Matt Duffy comes up, plays some defense, hits a couple of homers and catches some scout's or GM's eye, that we're not talking about the great prospect we got for an old third base semi-prospect we ended up not needing in a couple of years?

Brooks

You're absolutely right that breakouts play a huge part in this. And I'm not sure that breakout is an accurate term for Reed as he's not doing necessarily what is proponents expected or thought was feasible. It's more of a recognition from doubters.

The question here for me is it the player development really taking what appeared to be average tools and developing the untapped potential (i.e. Martes/Paulino picking up a few ticks on fastball) or is the pro/amateur scouts recognizing underutilized players or under appreciated skill (A.J. Reed).