Coincidentally, last Thursday, the exact same day that Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Houston Astros franchise, Baseball America released its Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects list. Of course, we know now that one of the conditions of the purchase by a group headed by Houston businessman Jim Crane is that the organization will be moving from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season.
From a fantasy perspective, there are plenty of topics to consider. But since this is Prospect Chatter, we’re going to cover, well, the prospect aspect. Over two separate posts — one today, one later in the week — we’ll hit on all you need to know.
1) The Astros’ “Top” Prospects
First, to establish some context, here’s the rundown of the aforementioned BA Top 10 for Houston:
1) Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF
2) Jarred Cosart, RHP
3) George Springer, OF
4) Jonathan Villar, SS
5) Paul Clemens, RHP
6) Domingo Santana, OF
7) Brett Oberholtzer, LHP
8) Delino DeShields Jr., 2B/OF
9) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
10) Telvin Nash, 1B/OF
Without getting into the specific skills and relative talents of these individuals just yet, the quick takeaway here is that this list isn’t all that impressive. As indicated in the title of this post, the two most well-known names are Singleton and Cosart. Those two and Springer, a 2011 first-rounder, are likely to be the only prospects you’ll find on any Top 100 lists at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, etc.
2) As If You Needed Another Reason…
Next, there’s the obvious, common sense issue in single-league keeper/dynasty formats. Owners in AL-only arrangements of this nature will be gaining Houston’s top farmhands as potential contributors to their future rosters, so it’s time to get better acquainted with them (later in the week). Alas, owners in keeper/dynasty NL-only leagues will be losing Astros prospects after next season.
Luckily for the second group, this isn’t really that big of an issue at this point because the system just isn’t all that strong or deep to begin with, so prospect keeper/dynasty candidates are at a minimum. That said, it’s still going to hurt a bit if last year you happened to draft Singleton or Cosart — both consensus Top 100 prospects heading into 2011 — because their future services will no longer be eligible to your team after 2012.
While we’re on the topic of next season, it’s worth pointing out that practically none of the ‘Stros ‘spects, especially the better ones, are ready to debut in 2012 (again, will hit on this next time). This actually makes things a lot easier for everyone involved in AL- or NL-only keeper/dynasty leagues. On one hand, AL-only owners will have a new batch of prospects who are a year closer to being ready when it comes time to draft in March 2013. On the other, NL-only folks won’t feel quite as much pain because it’s not exactly as if they’ll be missing out on big-time prospects who are set to be capable producers as 2012 rookies — and who then would have been worthwhile keepers for 2013.
Bottom line: If you’re in an NL-only keeper or dynasty format, I’d strongly suggest you avoid drafting any Astros prospects in 2012. The overall talent pool is lacking, and by the time the best of the lot are ready to help you, they’ll have up and gone to the other league.
Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11