The future of the Houston Astros is starting to take shape. Finally. After so much clamoring from the fan base to start seeing some of the young guy called up, general manager Jeff Luhnow has responded. After Sunday’s blowout loss to the Seattle Mariners to complete the three game sweep, designated hitter Carlos Pana and shortstop Ronny Cedeno were sent packing. The Astros are prone to either sign cheap free agents who nobody else wants (Jason Michaels, Carlos Pena, Ronny Cedeno, Hector Ambriz, Chris Snyder, Pedro Feliz, Matt Kata, Kevin Cash, Justin Maxwell, and the list goes on and on and on) or call up some washed up minor leaguer who is well past his prime. Not in the recent past as Luhnow finally has recalled two key parts of a soon contending whole. Those two keys are Jarred Cosart and Johnathan Villar.
We’ve discussed Jarred Cosart multiple times on this blog, so I wont bore you with him again. Although there is nothing boring about him, mind you. Lets meet Johnathan Villar. Villar came over in the 2010 Roy Oswalt trade with the Phillies and has widely been considered the Astros shortstop of the future. Villar hit .278 in Triple A OKC with eight homeruns and a .342 on base percentage. Villar projects as a top of the lineup hitter with plus speed, as evident last night when he made his Major League debut. Last night, Villar went 1-4 with a bunt single, stolen base, and a run scored. His speed and plus defense ability was on full display, and has Astros fans excited.
Tonight at Minute Maid Park, you can go see Jarred Cosart make his home debut and Johnathan Villar play some slick shortstop behind him against the Oakland Athletics. Come on, what else do you have to do that’s better?
The Astros have had two straight years of futility losing 106 games in 2011 and 107 in 2012. Will they lose 100 games for the third straight year? Well, they currently are on pace to do so, having the second worst record in Major League Baseball (30-52) only one game better than the lowly Miami Marlins. For Astros fans across Texas who are glass half full people, this could be a not so bad thing. For glass half empty fans, well, this is a train wreck. The good news here is that general manager Jeff Luhnow is constantly improving the minor league system, which in now 4th best in baseball. They have had the number one overall pick the last two years and if things go according to plan, they will have the number one pick for the third straight year. Having this not so great record of three straight number one overall picks ensures that the future is bright for this young club. And who is to say this team will for sure lose 100 and have the worst over all record? I am not ready to dub this team with that honor just yet. Three of their top ten prospects will make their way to Houston this year, barring injury.
Lets start with George Springer. This guy is incredible. He currently leads all minor leagues in homeruns (21) and is in the top 5 in RBIs. He just got promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He could be the next Torii Hunter if he is what they say he can be. After this brief stay in OKC, he should be roaming centerfield in Houston for the ladder part of the 2013 season. The next man we will discuss is Jonathan Singleton. At the beginning of the season, Singleton was dubbed as the number one first base prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately for him, he could not stay off the pipe and was suspended for the first 50 games of the season for testing positive for marijuana. He is back now in Triple-A OKC and doing what Jonathan Singleton likes to do, which is hit massive homeruns. Could this be the second coming of Jeff Bagwell? Time will tell. As of right now, all signs point to yes, if not better than the great Baggy. The last prospect on the list to make debuts in Houston is starting pitcher Jarred Cosart. The Houston born hometown kid is living out a dream. Born in Houston, grew up going to Astros games the Astrodome and is now on the cusp of pitching in an Astros uniform. This kid nails 100 miles per hour on the radar gun and is dominating Triple-A hitting. He is making it look easy, posting a 7-4 win loss record along with a 3.05 earned run average. Expect big numbers from the young 22 year old when he hits Houston this summer.
With the emergence of these young guns, I cannot necessarily say that this team will be last place with 100 losses on the season. Time will tell. For those loyal Astro fans following every pitch, like myself, my advice is to enjoy the ride. In a few years, this team will be going places. Take that to the bank.