In the past two years, the Astros have brought Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. -- all of whom could have MVP or Cy Young awards in their future -- to the big leagues. They've also promoted potential starters Joe Musgrove and A.J. Reed, as well as a slew of complementary players such as Chris Devenski, Michael Feliz, Preston Tucker and Tyler White. That infusion of talent helped Houston go from finishing with baseball's worst record for three years running from 2011-13 to capturing an American League Wild Card berth in 2015 and coming within five games of doing so again last year.
The Astros are hoping to return to the playoffs and make a deeper run than they did two years ago, and once again their farm system should be able to help. Right-handers Francis Martes and David Paulino could inject some power into a rotation that, outside of McCullers, is mostly about finesse. Derek Fisher or Teoscar Hernandez could wind up shoring up left field, the weakest spot in the lineup, and Jandel Gustave and James Hoyt are ready to contribute in the bullpen.
• Astros' Top 30 Prospects list
||BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR
||ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WSH
||CLE, CWS, DET, KC, MIN
||CHC, CIN, MIL, PIT, STL
||HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX
||ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF
Houston assembled its present collection of prospects in a variety of ways. Martes and Paulino were in Rookie ball when the Astros shrewdly grabbed them in trades, as were intriguing young infielders Yordan Alvarez and Jonathan Arauz. They've also drafted well, both with premium picks (outfielders Kyle Tucker, Fisher) and in much later rounds (outfielder Ramon Laureano, catcher Garrett Stubbs).
The current gem of Houston's international program is Venezuelan right-hander Franklin Perez. The Astros spent a franchise-record $8.9 million last year on a crop that included shortstops Freudis Nova and Anibal Sierra and left-hander Cionel Perez, all from Cuba.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2016 preseason list to the 2017 preseason list.
Jump: Ramon Laureano, OF (2016: NR | 2017: 8)
Fall: Colin Moran, 3B (2016: 6 | 2017: 25)
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Hit: Kyle Tucker (60)
Power: Derek Fisher (55)
Run: Stephen Wrenn (65)
Arm: Jake Rogers (65)
Defense: Jake Rogers (65)
Fastball: Jandel Gustave (80)
Curveball: Francis Martes (65)
Slider: Riley Ferrell (60)
Changeup: Franklin Perez (55)
Control: Brady Rodgers (60)
How they were built
Breakdown by ETA
Breakdown by position
Here's a look at the Astros' preseason Top 10 prospects from each of the past seven years (click here to see a larger image):
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.