See also: 2014 Ranking Index for Top 10 Prospects
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Another year, another disastrous record for the Astros.
|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Carlos Correa, ss|
|2. George Springer, of|
|3. Mark Appel, rhp|
|4. Mike Foltynewicz, rhp|
|5. Lance McCullers Jr., rhp|
|6. Vince Velasquez, rhp|
|7. Jonathan Singleton, 1b|
|8. Domingo Santana, of|
|9. Michael Feliz, rhp|
|10. Asher Wojciechowski, rhp|
|Best Hitter for Average||Carlos Correa|
|Best Power Hitter||George Springer|
|Best Strike-Zone Discipline||Nolan Fontana|
|Fastest Baserunner||Delino DeShields Jr.|
|Best Athlete||George Springer|
|Best Fastball||Mike Foltynewicz|
|Best Curveball||Lance McCullers Jr.|
|Best Slider||Mark Appel|
|Best Changeup||Vince Velasquez|
|Best Control||Jake Buchanan|
|Best Defensive Catcher||Roberto Pena|
|Best Defensive Infielder||Carlos Correa|
|Best Infield Arm||Carlos Correa|
|Best Defensive Outfielder||George Springer|
|Best Outfield Arm||Brett Phillips|
|TOP 15 PLAYERS 25 AND UNDER|
|No||Player, Pos (Age)||Peak Level|
|1.||Carlos Correa, ss (19)||Low Class A|
|2.||George Springer, of (24)||Triple-A|
|3.||Jarred Cosart, rhp (23)||Majors|
|4.||Mark Appel, rhp (22)||Low Class A|
|5.||Mike Foltynewicz, rhp (22)||Double-A|
|6.||Lance McCullers Jr., rhp (20)||Low Class A|
|7.||Vince Velasquez, rhp (21)||High Class A|
|8.||Jonathan Singleton, 1b (22)||Triple-A|
|9.||Domingo Santana, of (21)||Double-A|
|10.||Michael Feliz, rhp (20)||Short-season|
|11.||Jose Altuve, 2b (23)||Majors|
|12.||Brett Oberholtzer, rhp (24)||Majors|
|13.||Jonathan Villar, ss (22)||Majors|
|14.||Asher Wojciechowski, rhp (25)||Triple-A|
|15.||Matt Dominguez, 3b (24)||Majors|
|TOP PROSPECTS OF THE DECADE|
|Year||Player, Pos.||2013 Org.|
|2004||Taylor Buchholz, rhp||Out of baseball|
|2005||Chris Burke, 2b||Out of baseball|
|2006||Jason Hirsh, rhp||Amarillo (American Assoc.)|
|2007||Hunter Pence, of||Giants|
|2008||J.R. Towles, c||Dodgers|
|2009||Jason Castro, c||Astros|
|2010||Jason Castro, c||Astros|
|2011||Jordan Lyles, rhp||Astros|
|2012||Jonathan Singleton, rhp||Astros|
|2013||Carlos Correa, ss||Astros|
|TOP DRAFT PICKS OF THE DECADE|
|Year||Player, Pos.||2013 Org.|
|2004||Hunter Pence, of (2nd round)||Giants|
|2005||Brian Bogusevic, lhp||Cubs|
|2006||Max Sapp, c||Out of baseball|
|2007||*Derek Dietrich, 3b (3rd round)||Marlins|
|2008||Jason Castro, c||Astros|
|2009||Jio Mier, ss||Astros|
|2010||Delino DeShields Jr., 2b||Astros|
|2011||George Springer, of||Astros|
|2012||Carlos Correa, ss||Astros|
|2013||Mark Appel, rhp||Astros|
|*Did Not Sign|
|LARGEST BONUSES IN CLUB HISTORY|
|Mark Appel, 2013||$6,350,000|
|Carlos Correa, 2012||$4,800,000|
|Ariel Ovando, 2010||$2,600,000|
|George Springer, 2011||$2,525,000|
|Lance McCullers Jr., 2012||$2,500,000|
|Astros Team Page|
|Last Year's Astros Top 10 Prospects|
|2013 Draft: Astros|
|2013 Draft Report Cards: Houston Astros|
|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
After Houston won fewer than 60 games for the first and second time in franchise history in 2011 and 2012, they shifted to the American League and got even worse. The 2013 Astros went 51-111 for the worst record in club history and the worst in the majors since the 2004 Diamondbacks also lost 111.
Fans stayed away. The Astros in 2013 drew 1.65 million fans, up slightly from the 1.6 million they drew the year before, but that's roughly half of what the club drew at its peak in the middle of the 2000s.
In fact, a September game drew a 0.0 rating, meaning the Nielsen company could not statistically prove that anyone in the Houston market watched the game. And the Astros' local TV deal is so bad—about 40 percent of Houston-area homes receive Comcast Sports Houston—that owner Jim Crane (who also owns 40 percent of the network) filed suit against former owner Drayton McLane for misleading him.
The 2013 season was an unmitigated disaster. But by being a disaster, the Astros also got a step closer to the playoffs. Since trading Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence in July 2011, the Astros have conducted a fascinating experiment. They have torn down the big league roster to a level rarely seen from a non-expansion team.
Since inheriting a woebegone farm system and little big league talent in December 2011, general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff dismantled the big league club with an eye on future success. Almost every veteran has been traded away to bring back prospects. Those prospects have joined a growing core of players signed by the Astros in the draft and internationally.
The organization's overhaul came at a time when the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement has placed much stricter restrictions on team spending for amateurs, both domestic and international. The amount teams are allowed to spend is tied to the previous year's record, so it gives significant advantages to the teams at the bottom of the standings.
As the worst team in baseball each of the past three seasons, the Astros have benefited. They have had the No. 1 overall pick, and the largest bonus-pool allotment, in each of the past two drafts. The same is true for the 2014 draft. No team has had three straight No. 1 overall picks.
Houston selected shortstop Carlos Correa, one of the top prospects in baseball, with the No. 1 pick in 2012, then used some of the money they saved by signing Correa to also sign sandwich pick Lance McCullers Jr. and fourth-rounder Rio Ruiz.
In 2013, the Astros took righthander Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick, and he joined an already enviable group of young pitching prospects. Jarred Cosart, acquired from the Phillies in the Pence trade, was first-year manager Bo Porter's best starter after Cosart's July promotion. Fellow rookie Brett Oberholtzer, acquired from the Braves in the Bourn deal, also grabbed and held a rotation spot.
The Astros should start to return to respectability at the big league level in 2014. The addition of power/speed outfielder George Springer and Luhnow's proclamations that the team would add salary to improve the bullpen and lineup might help Houston avoid a fourth consecutive No. 1 pick.
By 2015 or 2016, Houston may be once again contending for a playoff spot, when another data point in this experiment will reveal itself: Will the fans return or will they feel too neglected to care?