It’s no secret that the Astros have compiled one of the best minor league farm systems in baseball recently after their “fire sale” at the major league level, compiling the best prospects from around the league and bringing them into the Astros organization. Many predict that the Astros are years away from contention while the prospects are in the farm, developing and getting ready for the Major League, they are currently tearing through the Minor League. The brightest spot in the Astros farm system is Double-A Corpus Christi, boasting a roster consisting Astros first round picks, George Springer, Jiovanni Mier, and other up-and-coming prospects such as, Nick Tropeano, Asher Wojciechowski, Enrique Hernandez, Domingo Santana, and Jonathan Meyer.
Corpus Christi is coming from an amazing 2012, and they have raised expectations, after coming off a season where they went from worst to first, capturing the Texas League regular season title for the second half of the season. Going to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Hooks were abruptly swept out of the playoffs by first half champions Frisco RoughRiders. Hungry for another chance at the postseason, the Hooks are back at it in 2013, and it seems that they have picked up exactly where they have left off. 2013 has gotten off to an amazing start for the Corpus Christi based club, starting off the season 5-1, capping off a six game home-stand, pummeling the Tulsa Drillers 6-0 behind a dominating performance by Bobby Doran and Nick Tropeano combined. The hot Hooks have won both of their opening series, taking two of three from 2012 Texas League champions Springfield Cardinals, and then swept Tulsa in a three game series. While the Astros are struggling, aside from the blow out of Seattle Tuesday night, the Hooks are finding early success right off the bat. Armed to the teeth with stellar pitching, the Hooks are going to a piggyback starter system, when the first starter reaches his pitch limit, the next one is brought in, keeping the opposing bats at bay, and getting the abundance of starting pitchers on the Hooks roster their share of innings and pitches. While the Hooks in 2013 have a lot of new faces from High-A Lancaster, and a majority of the 2012 players have either gone to Triple-A Oklahoma City, or to other organizations, this year has a lot more potential than the year before.
The 2013 Hooks are essentially the 2012 California League champions Lancaster JetHawks, minus the highly touted prospect Delino DeShields Jr. and their championship level of play is on display very early in Corpus Christi. Despite the fact that league championships don’t matter when it comes to overall player development, the Hooks have an amazing shot at the Texas League title this year with the plethora of talent at the High-A level and below ready to fill in later in the year when the better players are called up to Triple-A Oklahoma City, or even to the Show in Houston.
If you find yourself becoming disgruntled about the Astros woes piling up, I suggest a trip down to the farm and enjoying a glimpse into the Astros future and feel reassured that we are heading into the Astros’ very near future.
– Richard Perez