The 2022 Astros Are Uniquely Homegrown In The World Series
PHILADELPHIA — Teams often dream of building a homegrown roster that carries them to a World Series championship.
In reality, that rarely happens.
Only three of the 22 champions since 2000 have featured World Series rosters where more than half of the players were homegrown. Five of the last six champions featured World Series rosters where not even one-third of the players were homegrown.
The fickle nature of prospects is such that no matter how well a team drafts or develops, and even if a strong homegrown core is in place, the majority of players on a championship roster still largely come from the outside.
The 2022 Astros are trying to break that mold.
The Astros feature 14 homegrown players on their 26-man World Series roster, including three-quarters of their starting rotation and five of the top six hitters in their lineup. That doesn’t include slugger Yordan Alvarez, who originally signed with the Dodgers but came up exclusively in the Astros system.
Even the 2016 Cubs, lauded for their homegrown talent, featured just seven homegrown players on their World Series roster. The 2015 Royals, who emphasized homegrown player development as the foundation of their success, had 12 homegrown players.
“One, we have really good players,” said outfielder Kyle Tucker, a first-round pick of the Astros in 2015. “And then our coaching staff in the minor leagues has really helped guys just kind of work on their craft to get ready and be prepared for when they do come up to the big leagues. So I think that's a huge part of our success.”
The Astros homegrown success has come from all avenues. Tucker, third baseman Alex Bregman and righthander Lance McCullers Jr. were all high draft picks the organization hit on. Shortstop Jeremy Peña, righthander Hunter Brown, outfielder Chas McCormick and infielder David Hensley were all mid-major college picks selected after the draft’s first day. First baseman Yuli Gurriel was a celebrated Cuban émigré who received an eight-figure contract when he signed. Second baseman Jose Altuve and pitchers Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Bryan Abreu were all under-the-radar international finds who received signing bonuses of $100,000 or less.
As impressive as the Astros ability to find players from a variety of sources has been their continuity in doing so for more than a decade.
Altuve entered the organization in 2007. Hensley, the last of the 14 to join, entered the organization as a 26th-round pick in 2018.
Within that span, many of the players rose through the minors together and formed the type of lasting bond that can only come from sharing long bus rides, cramped hotel rooms and low-quality fast food in pursuit of a dream. Valdez and Javier were teammates on the same Dominican Summer League pitching staff in 2015. Alvarez and Tucker were in the same lineup together at High-A Buies Creek in 2017. Abreu and Garcia were the two aces of the staff at Low-A Quad Cities in 2018. Hensley and Peña manned the infield together at Quad Cities in 2019.
Even if they missed each other at the lower levels, they eventually coalesced in the upper levels. Alvarez, Tucker, McCormick, Javier, Urquidy and Valdez all played at Triple-A Round Rock in 2019.
“These guys know each other professionally, personally,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “They probably knew each other's girlfriends when they were coming up and then they know their wives and their kids and you feel more like a family atmosphere. You know the do’s and don'ts and the pluses and negatives of almost everybody that you're dealing with.
“It is similar to when I got to the Dodgers in 1976. Most of 'em were homegrown. So I think that means a lot to molding the personality of your ball club.”
Baker mentioned a common word the Astros use to describe their team: family. While it’s a well-worn cliché, it holds a degree of truth for the Astros.
Even previous editions of the team don’t compare. The Astros’ 2017 championship team had only eight homegrown players on their 25-man World Series roster. Their 2019 and 2021 AL pennant-winning rosters featured nine and 12 homegrown players, respectively.
The 2022 Astros are singularly, and uniquely, homegrown.
“I think it helps out a lot,” Tucker said. “Our clubhouse is a huge family. Everyone is there to help out each other because we all have the same goal of winning the World Series. To get to this point, you’ve got to help out each other to get better and learn from little things, little mistakes, to try and prevent that from happening again later.”
“It feels like we're a family,” Peña added. “It gives you a comfort level to know you could go up to any player and ask them for advice and you know they are looking out for you.”
Now, the Astros hope that familiarity will help them turn the series around. If it can, they will be the most homegrown champions since at least 2000.
“The guys in our clubhouse have been around the game for a really long time up here and everyone's willing to help each other out to be better ballplayers overall to help out the team,” Tucker said. “So I think with the coaching staff and the players that we have in our locker room just helping each other out, just as an overall team to get better, I think it's a huge part of our success.”
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Homegrown players on World Series championship rosters
2000 Yankees: 6 of 25 (18%)
2001 Diamondbacks: 3 of 25 (9%)
2002 Angels: 13 of 25 (52%)
2003 Marlins: 6 of 25 (24%)
2004 Red Sox: 2 of 25 (8%)
2005 White Sox: 4 of 25 (16%)
2006 Cardinals: 9 of 25 (36%)
2007 Red Sox: 8 of 25 (32%)
2008 Phillies: 9 of 25 (32%)
2009 Yankees: 12 of 25 (48%)
2010 Giants: 10 of 25 (40%)
2011 Cardinals: 10 of 25 (40%)
2012 Giants: 10 of 25 (40%)
2013 Red Sox: 10 of 25 (40%)
2014 Giants: 13 of 25 (52%)
2015 Royals: 12 of 25 (48%)
2016 Cubs: 7 of 25 (28%)
2017 Astros: 8 of 25 (32%)
2018 Red Sox: 8 of 25 (32%)
2019 Nationals 7 of 25 (28%)
2020 Dodgers: 14 of 28 (50%)
2021 Braves: 8 of 26 (31%)
Note: Homegrown defined as players who were originally drafted or signed by the club.