Yesterday, Fangraphs' Chris Mitchell published farm system rankings for all teams based on his KATOH model. KATOH uses minor league statistical performance and comparison with past minor leaguers to project a player's major league WAR through the first few years of team control.
Mitchell is the first to point out that stats aren't everything, and that this model should be taken with a tremendous grain of salt. But it is still one way to look at farm system health and evaluate prospects and has a deserved place in the forum that is prospect evaluation and projection.
KATOH ranked the Astros' farm at #2 in baseball with a projected WAR over players' first six big league years of 77. That's second only to the Astros North (the Brewers) which KATOH projected for 86 WAR.
There are a couple fun and/or interesting takeaways:
- The Astros' 77 WAR is five and a half times more than the last-place farm, the Marlins. It's four times more than the Astros' division rival Angels.
- The #1 Brewers feature a large number of former Astros prospects, due to trades made by former Astros exec David Stearns, now Milwaukee's general manager, and due to the trade that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston.
- The Phillies, 9th on the list with a projected 62 WAR, also feature four pitchers who were Astros' prospects mere months ago.
- KATOH is performance-based, so there's a good chance the Astros were dinged by "meh" performances by first-rounders Daz Cameron and Kyle Tucker.
- The Cumulative KATOH WAR chart shows the depth in the Astros system, which is pretty balanced between 3.5+ WAR players, 2+ WAR players, and 1+ WAR players. Also, wow Dodgers...got high-ceiling prospects much?
- KATOH likes the Astros a lot more than Keith Law does, but is well-aligned with Baseball America's way of thinking.
The Astros have easily the deepest farm system according to KATOH. They have 31 players projected for at least 1.0 WAR, which is four more than any other team. A big chunk of their projected WAR comes from their not-so-small army of prospects in the 1.0-3.5 WAR range, including Joe Musgrove, David Paulino, Jamie Ritchieand many more. They also have quite a few top end guys in A.J. Reed, Tony Kemp, Francis Martes, Andrew Aplin, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. The Astros have a lot of prospects who feel like "scouting the stat line" specials, but they also have a lot of prospects who aren’t. The Astros have a lot of prospects period.