PITTSBURGH -- With the Astros calling up many of their top prospects to the Major Leagues and infusing their farm system with talent in the trades of Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, the team's Minor League system made strides in 2011, even if the records of the affiliates didn't exactly show it.
Houston's eight Minor League affiliates went a combined 337-488, with no team finishing with a winning record. Of the four full-season clubs, Triple-A Oklahoma City finished with the best record at 68-75 in the Pacific Coast League. Double-A Corpus Christi went 50-90, Class A Lancaster was 55-85 overall and Class A Lexington was 59-79.
"I would say we're disappointed from a team standpoint, but I spent some time over the weekend looking at some things, and our clubs have been very young," Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. "And so it makes it difficult at times to compete. That's no excuse, but certainly our clubs have been young and we're also just one of seven other clubs that field seven teams here in the United States, so you spread your players a little bit thinner. The individual performances have been very rewarding."
The system sent several players to the Major Leagues, including third baseman Jimmy Paredes, second baseman Jose Altuve and left fielder J.D. Martinez, each of whom made the jump from Double-A to start in the big leagues. Twenty-year-old pitcher Jordan Lyles made 15 starts for the Astros.
"We moved a lot of players this year, some of it by need," Nelson said. "Also, just the domino effect. When you take guys to the big leagues it creates holes and opportunities, and we really pushed a lot of kids and most have held their own and done quite well and positioned themselves to be pretty good players for us."