2014 Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects

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Another year, another disastrous record for the Astros.

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
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
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
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
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
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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?