The long, winding road to respectability is going to take a couple more years, but the Houston Astros are starting to become one of the most interesting franchises in Major League Baseball.
General manager Jeff Luhnow has been building toward the future since the day he took over in 2011. He's basically turned over the entire MLB roster through trades, acquiring young talent and stop-gap players in the process.
It should come as no surprise that Luhnow has put all his focus on the farm system, even at the great expense of the MLB club, because this was a team that ignored the minor leagues for years under the previous regime.
Luhnow built his resume in St. Louis, overseeing drafts and international signings that have helped lead the Cardinals to two championships in the last 10 years.
He's brought that expertise to Houston, focusing more on the draft in the last two years than former GM Ed Wade did in five seasons.
Those efforts are going to start yielding results in 2014, as top prospects like George Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Mike Foltynewicz graduate to the big leagues. Gradually over the next two seasons, the entire MLB roster is going to be awash in top-flight prospects.
This is an exciting, deep system of talent that gives Astros fans something to look forward to. It's going to be a few years before contending is possible, but they're certainly headed in the right direction.
Here are the Astros' top 10 prospects heading into the 2014 season.
Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. Scouting reports and rankings are based on personal evaluations/opinions.