For most of Jeff Luhnow’s tenure, the Astros have had one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. While the major league club has yet to significantly experience the fruits of his labor, the pipeline is replete with top line recruits working their way to Houston.
MLB’s latest rankings list the Astros with the eighth best pipeline in the majors, even after recent trades and promotions. While more promotions may be imminent (read: 2015 or 2016), it’s also clear there may not be enough eventual room on the Astros’ roster for everyone. Some, of course, will not pan out. Still others will be traded in an effort to replenish the system or add a key part to the major league club.
Don’t think for a minute that Luhnow won’t trade some of these prospects as evidenced by the moves of the past year of players like Jarred Cosart, Michael Foltynewicz, Nick Tropeano and others. Already, 11 of the 30 on the current list were acquired through trade.
With players like George Springer and possibly even Jon Singleton solidifying roles on the roster, Luhnow will soon have a good problem (of sorts) in that players begin to get blocked. In fact, that’s already occurring at second base and at least one outfield spot.
For the first time in a long while, Houston has some real battles taking place, between players who are worthy of starting positions, either in the lineup or the field, or both. But as soon as next year, the discussion may not be about Jake Marisnick and Robbie Grossman. The names could represent an upgrade: Domingo Santana and Teoscar Hernandez. Or even Preston Tucker. Would that be an upgrade?
With Mark Appel nearing readiness and Vincent Velasquez, Josh Hader and Michael Feliz also in the wings, something will need to give in the rotation. Dallas Keuchel isn’t going anywhere. Collin McHugh neither. Scott Feldman? The last year of his deal is next year. At least three players are vying respectfully for the #5 spot now, and that doesn’t include Brad Peacock who’ll be in the mix by this time next month. How much room in that rotation inn?
Most of the players on the Astros’ roster aren’t signed beyond this season, so Luhnow has allowed himself great flexibility. With that in mind, here are some questions to start your week with.
- There is a bottleneckat2B. If Singleton continues to develop, there will be oneat1B. Count Springer as a roadblock, either in RF or CF. Where is the next block and who will do the blocking?
- Bonus question: In which season do the Astros reach the tipping point with more positions blocked than not?
- Looking ahead to 2016, who on the prospect list is likely to join Appel in the rotation? And, who among the current rotation will get pushed out of the mix?
- Looking at MLB’s Top 30, which is the biggest surprise at their current ranking?
- Taking a look into your crystal ball, how many of the Top 30 stand an even chance of playing in Houston by at least next season?
- Go ahead, drool as you throw out a suggestion for next season’s opening day lineup. Where does Correa hit? Moran? Which of the young OF guns joins Springer?
- Keuchel, McHugh, Appel and …