Once upon a time, the Houston Astros were a very good team at both the major league and minor league levels. They scouted well and signed draft picks, international free agents and MLB free agents. That all came to a slow, painful halt after the club’s first and only World Series appearance in 2005, during which they were swept by the Chicago White Sox. The owner at the time, Drayton McLane, did very little to keep his club competitive. He and his front office neglected the draft and international free agency, and the minor leagues suffered because of it. Instead, they handed out free agent contracts to the likes of Kaz Matsui, Woody Williams, Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz to name a few. These players were once very nice players, but by the time they were Astros, they were past their prime.
Beginning in the summer of 2010, Ed Wade, the club’s GM at the time, finally persuaded McLane that change was needed. Franchise cornerstones Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt were traded for prospects. The following year, Wade traded team leaders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn for more prospects. These trades, along with a reinvesting in the draft starting in 2008 when Wade took over as GM and completely revamped the scouting department, was the beginning of the Astros’ rebuilding effort. Later that year, McLane sold the Astros to Houston area businessman Jim Crane. Crane brought on former Houston Rockets CEO George Postolos to serve as CEO. They completely cleaned house and among the casualties was Wade, the club’s GM. He was later replaced by Jeff Luhnow, who had been the head of scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Luhnow hit the ground running. He continued trading veterans. Over the next year and a half, he would trade Mark Melancon, Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Johnson, Brett Myers and Jed Lowrie. He also selected Carlos Correa first overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. He also selected first-round talents Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz, who fell in the draft due to strong college commitments and signability concerns. The club’s MLB-worst record in 2012 led to them selecting first in the 2013 MLB Draft. They used the top selection on Stanford SP Mark Appel further adding to an already impressive farm system that has consistently been ranked in the top 10 in all of baseball.
Take a look at the Astros on field performance this year and you wont see much difference in the record from last season. What you will see is the emergence of players such as Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles and Matt Dominguez. All pf these players figure to have a prominant, if not permanent, place on this team for the foreseeable future. Add in the fact that top prospects such as Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Mark Appel and George Springer should be arriving in Houston very soon, and the Astros have themselves a very nice core of young, highly-thought-of players who will grow and play together and help lead this team back to respectability and eventually, to numerous postseason berths. There are very exciting times just around the corner in Houston. Get ready, Astros fans!