Just as he did in Philadelphia, Ed Wade, the former general manager of the Houston Astros, left the team with a very good crop of young talent to help jump-start the rebuilding process taken over by current general manager Jeff Luhnow.
Many Astros fans are still trying to wash the bad taste out of their mouths since Wade’s tenure ended in 2011. The storm that was the last three abysmal seasons is coming to an end with clear skies filled with young talent on the horizon. As much as Astros fans hate the idea of thanking Wade for anything, they should give him some credit for the current crop of Astros playing today. As he was cleaning out his desk, Wade gave the Astros a solid group of young players to help them transition into, what the Astros hope will be, a sustained winning era of baseball.
The current Astros roster has a number of players with ties to Wade. All-Star catcher Jason Castro, who was Wade’s first pick as the Astros general manager, is the veteran anchor for the young team. Drafted in 2008, Castro has developed into a solid defensive catcher with the ability to help his young pitchers stay grounded as they transition to the major league. Offensively, Castro has proven he can provide solid numbers at the major league level when he is healthy. Last year, Castro hit 17 home runs and drove in 56 runs while hitting .276 at the plate.
Wade’s other first-round draft pick, and his last, set to pay huge dividends for the Astros came in 2011 when he drafted the recently called up right fielder George Springer. Since making the adjustment to major league pitching after a slow start to his career, Springer currently leads the team with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs. He has also shown a strong arm in right field along with the ability to make some amazing plays in the field. He is the first five-tool player the Astros have had roaming the outfield since Carlos Beltran. Still very raw, Springer will continue to improve his game while giving the Astros a cornerstone player they have desperately needed.
Other notable players drafted by Wade include RHP Mike Foltynewicz, OF Delino DeShields Jr. and RHP Vincent Velasquez, all of whom are in the top 20 prospects in the deepest farm system in baseball.
Ed Wade didn’t just leave the Astros with solid talent from the draft. He acquired very solid young talent via trades with his former club. Before the 2011 season, Wade traded RHP Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for RHP J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose and current shortstop Jonathan Villar, who is the perfect shortstop for the Astros to have while they wait for Carlos Correa. Villar is stellar defensively and adds the needed speed to the bottom of the lineup for the Astros.
The biggest gain in Wade’s tenure came from dealing Hunter Pence to the Phillies for RHP Jarred Cosart, IF Jon Singleton and a player to be named later, who ended up being OF Domingo Santana. Cosart is showing improvement every game while he learns how to pitch at the major league level. Singleton, formerly the top-rated first base prospect in the minors, has shown the power in his bat that got him the call-up to the majors. Santana is currently hitting .294 to go along with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs at the triple A affiliate of the Astros in Oklahoma City.
No matter how tiresome it was watching the Astros finish just below mediocrity year in and year out during his reign as general manager while Drayton McLane tried to sell the team, Wade left the Astros with a solid foundation to rebuild on. Remember that the next time Luhnow is given all of the credit for the strides in the youth movement for the Astros.