The Seattle Mariners are a sub. 500 team at the big league level, but in the minors, the M's were on top of the overall minor league standings. The Mariners' minor league teams won at a .550 clip this season, as Double-A Jackson, high Class A High Desert, low Class A Clinton, short-season Everett and the rookie-level Dominican Summer League club were all playoff teams.
But if you dig into the standings a little deeper, there is an even more notable nugget. If you look at just the domestic leagues, the Houston Astros led all organizations in winning percentage. The Astros' U.S. clubs had a .546 winning percentage this year, just ahead of the Colorado Rockies. If you include Dominican and Venezuelan clubs, the Astros finished fourth in the organization standings.
That's notable because over the past five years, the Astros have easily had the least successful farm system in baseball. Houston finished last in organization standings in 2011, 29th in 2010, last in 2009, last in 2008 and 26th in 2007. No other team has come close to matching the Astros' recent run of futility.
While minor league winning percentage is not easy analogue for future major league success, the Astros' lack of minor league talent was glaring. And it had a significant effect on their player development, as players were often forced to play a level or two above where they should be playing, simply because there was no other option.
With the improved talent that has come from better drafts as well as a series of trades that have brought in large numbers of prospects, this year the Astros suddenly became a winner at the minor league level.
The high Class A Lancaster JetHawks won their first-ever California League title, and the short-season Tri-City Valley Cats lost in the New York-Penn League finals. The Astros' Double-A Corpus Christi affiliate lost in the first round of the Texas League playoffs.
The JetHawks' title is the first full-season minor league title for an Astros' affiiate since the Round Rock Express won the Pacific Coast League crown in 2006. The Valley Cats were the Astros' most recent minor league champ at any level, as they won the New York-Penn League crown in 2010.
Houston still has to demonstrate that its rebuilt minor league system will turn into big league success, but after many years of futility, there is a sign of hope.
|2012 OVERALL MINOR LEAGUE ORGANIZATION STANDINGS|
|3||Los Angeles Dodgers||404||359||.529|
|6||New York Yankees||432||400||.519|
|7||Toronto Blue Jays||427||395||.519|
|9||New York Mets||432||406||.516|
|11||San Francisco Giants||394||372||.514|
|13||Boston Red Sox||392||375||.511|
|16||St. Louis Cardinals||420||408||.507|
|19||Kansas City Royals||415||413||.501|
|20||Chicago White Sox||381||389||.495|
|21||Tampa Bay Rays||438||462||.487|
|26||Los Angeles Angels||352||407||.464|
|30||San Diego Padres||345||421||.450|
And here are the results with the Dominican Summer League and Venezuela League standings filtered out.
|2012 DOMESTIC MINOR LEAGUE ORGANIZATION STANDINGS|
|3||New York Yankees||366||326||.529|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers||366||327||.528|
|7||Toronto Blue Jays||397||360||.524|
|10||Tampa Bay Rays||391||368||.515|
|11||New York Mets||355||343||.509|
|13||San Francisco Giants||352||344||.506|
|16||Boston Red Sox||351||346||.504|
|17||Chicago White Sox||353||348||.504|
|18||St. Louis Cardinals||386||384||.501|
|22||Kansas City Royals||374||386||.492|
|28||San Diego Padres||317||379||.455|
|30||Los Angeles Angels||312||383||.449|