Houston Astros: Top 10 Prospects

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects 

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1. J.R. Towles, c
2. Felipe Paulino, rhp
3. Troy Patton, lhp
4. Juan Gutierrez, rhp
5. Michael Bourn, of
6. Mike Costanzo, 3b
7. Bud Norris, rhp
8. Brad James, rhp
9. Chad Reineke, rhp
10. Eli Iorg, of


Best Hitter for Average Jonny Ash
Best Power Hitter Mike Costanzo
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jonny Ash
Fastest Baserunner Michael Bourn
Best Athlete Devon Torrence
Best Fastball Felipe Paulino
Best Curveball Bud Norris
Best Slider Char Reineke
Best Changeup Samuel Gervacio
Best Control Troy Patton
Best Defensive Catcher J.R. Towles
Best Defensive Infielder Tommy Manzella
Best Infield Arm Mike Constanzo
Best Defensive Outfielder Michael Bourn
Best Outfield Arm Jordan Parraz


Catcher J.R. Towles
First Base Lance Berkman
Second Base Chris Burke
Third Base Mike Constanzo
Shortstop Adam Everett
Left Field Carlos Lee
Center Field Michael Bourn
Right Field Hunter Pence
No. 1 Starter Roy Oswalt
No. 2 Starter Matt Albers
No. 3 Starter Felipe Paulino
No. 4 Starter Troy Patton
No. 5 Starter Wandy Rodriguez
Closer Chad Qualls


Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Richard Hidalgo, of Out of baseball
1999 Lance Berkman, of Astros
2000 Wilfredo Rodriguez, lhp Out of baseball
2001 Roy Oswalt, rhp Astros
2002 Carlos Hernandez, lhp Out of baseball
2003 John Buck, c Royals
2004 Taylor Buchholz, rhp Rockies
2005 Chris Burke, 2b Astros
2006 Jason Hirsh, rhp Rockies
2007 Hunter Pence, of Astros


Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Brad Lidge, rhp Astros
1999 Mike Rosamond, of Out of baseball
2000 Robert Stiehl Astros
2001 Chris Burke, ss Astros
2002 Derick Grigsby, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Jason Hirsh, rhp (2nd) Rockies
2004 Hunter Pence, of (2nd) Astros
2005 Brian Bougusevic,lhp Astros
2006 Max Sapp, c Astros
2007 *Derek Dietrich, 3b (3rd) Did not sign
*Did not sign


Chris Burke, 2001 $2,125,000
Max Sapp, 2006 $1,400,000
Brian Bougusevic, 2005 $1,375,000
Robert Stiehl, 2000 $1,250,000
Derick Grigsby, 2002 $1,125,000


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Houston Astros

In two years, the Astros went from World Series participant to a total rebuilding job. Their 73-89 finish marked just their second losing season since 1992, but it wasn’t an anomaly. Though owner Drayton McLane expects his team to contend again in 2008, Houston’s rise won’t be as swift as its fall.

The Astros built a consistent winner through their farm system. Few teams worked the now-defunct draft-and-follow system or the Venezuelan market as well, and they also had a knack for finding quality, low-cost college seniors. But the talent has dried up this decade, and Houston has had to invest heavily on free agents to keep winning. That approach has proved costly, not only in terms of big league salaries but also in its affect on the club’s drafts.

In three of the last five drafts, the Astros have forfeited their first-round pick as free-agent compensation. McLane has become more reluctant to offer arbitration to his own free agents, so only once during that period has Houston received bonus choices of its own. He also has been increasing unwilling to buck MLB’s slot recommendations. All three of these factors resulted in a disastrous draft in 2007.

By signing Carlos Lee and Woody Williams as Type A free agents, the Astros surrendered their first two draft choices. Offering arbitration to three of their own Type A free agents—Aubrey Huff, Andy Pettitte and Russ Springer—was a low-risk proposition that could have yielded three first-round picks and three supplemental first-rounders, but Houston declined to do so. The Astros couldn’t try to compensate by drafting players with high price tags because McLane refused to exceed MLB’s guidelines.

Houston thought it had signing parameters in place with its first two choices, third baseman Derek Dietrich (third round) and righthander Brett Eibner (fourth), as well as righty Chad Bettis (eighth). But they all asked for more than slot money and wound up opting for college over pro ball. The Astros spent just $1.584 million on the draft, $3.6 million below the average of the other 29 teams.

They also haven’t been aggressive internationally, especially since former director of Venezuelan scouting and development Andres Reiner left the organization in February 2006. Reiner, a pioneer in establishing a Venezuelan pipeline, helped sign players such as Bobby Abreu, Carlos Guillen and Johan Santana, as well as the club’s current top pitching prospect, Felipe Paulino. The Astros haven’t brought in any comparable foreign talents in recent years.

Disappointed with his club’s performance on the field and in the front office, McLane has cleaned house. He fired general manager Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner in August. Former Phillies GM Ed Wade assumed control of the front office in September and appointed interim manager Cecil Cooper on a permanent basis. Wade also restructured the scouting department, reassigning senior director of player personnel Paul Ricciarini and coordinator of amateur scouting Tad Slowik.

Wade’s new scouting director is Bobby Heck, formerly the Eastern crosschecker for the Brewers. Heck contributed to a run of productive drafts in Milwaukee, but it’s doubtful the Astros farm system or major league club will rebound without a shift in philosophy.

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects 

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