The 2016 baseball season is just around the corner, like every year ESPN's Keith Law ranks all 30 Major League Baseball farm systems. Unlike the last past few season, Law did not rank the Houston Astros in the top five. At the start of the 2016, Law ranks the Astros system as 17th-best in his Insider-Only article (subscription required) Wednesday.
The Astros ranked No. 3 in Law's list in 2015. Law will also release his top 100 prospects on Thursday, and he notes that four Astros prospects will be included in the list.
14 spots is a dramatic drop in one season in farm system rankings. Who does that happen? Graduation and trades.
Five Astros were included on Law's 2015 Top 100 prospects list, only one player remains in the Astros farm system in 2016. Carlos Correa (No. 3 in Law's 2015 Top 100) was called up to the major league team on June 8, 2015. Mark Appel (No. 44) and Vincent Velasquez (No. 56) were apart of the Ken Giles trade with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason.
Brett Phillips (No. 76) and Domingo Santana were the main pieces in return for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Astros also graduated other possible prospect targets like Lance McCullers and Preston Tucker.
The one player that remains on the roster from 2015 is Colin Moran (No.73).
No team can sustain this high volume of "flashy" prospect loss and not expect to drop in the farm system rankings. As noted by Law in the article, the Astros have a plethora of high prospects to replenish the farm. Houston drafted three players in the first round/compensation round last season: Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Daz Cameron.
The rest of the American League West is led by the Texas Rangers at No. 9, Oakland Athletics at No. 18, the Seattle Mariners at No. 28, and the Los Angeles Angels at No.30 -- Law stating the Halos are by far the worst system he has seen since he started his rankings.