It’s been six long years for loyal Houston Astros fans since their 2008 campaign; that was the last season the team managed to finish with a winning record.
The 2005 season, in which the Astros made their most recent playoff appearance and won the National League pennant, is an even more distant memory.
The win-now approach of building the team with elite established veterans that the Astros utilized in the mid-2000s brought Houston some great teams to watch, but the short-term glory came at the expense of depleting the organization’s minor league system.
So, when it eventually came time to rebuild the team, the Astros were left starting from scratch — a situation that has spiraled down to record levels of ineptitude for the franchise.
But after a lengthy, excruciating process that has included consecutive seasons with 106 losses, 107 losses and 111 losses, it appears now that fans have something to get excited about.
Last week, Astros rookie outfielder George Springer single-handedly put Houston back on the national baseball radar with a hot-hitting streak that saw him hit eight home runs in the span of eight games. This span included seven wins in a row for the Astros, who, for the first time in a long while, don’t look like the worst team in the Major League.
The even better news for Astros fans — Springer, who was the No. 11 pick in the 2011 draft, could be just the beginning of an Astros renaissance. And, as the impatient type, I’m ready for the future to get here as soon as possible.
Left-handed power-hitting first baseman Jon Singleton could be the next Astros prospect to make the jump to the show, and hopefully his call-up comes soon this season.
Singleton was picked up by the Astros when they traded one of the final pieces to the mid-2000s glory day, outfielder Hunter Pence, to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Another piece of the Pence trade, outfielder Domingo Santana, could also be called up sometime this season to add some more power to the Astros lineup.
The start of the 2015 season (if not later this season) could see the Major League debut for 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, who is hoped to be Houston’s ace pitcher of the future.
The same can be said of right-handed flamethrower Mike Foltynewicz, the No. 19 overall pick in the 2010 draft who is projected as either a solid starting pitcher or a potential lights-out closer.
Speedy center fielder prospect Delino DeShields Jr., the son of a former big leaguer picked eighth overall in the 2010 draft, has the potential to be a top base-stealer and leadoff hitter of the future in Houston.
Last, but certainly not least, is the biggest jewel in the Astros’ treasure trove of prized prospects: shortstop Carlos Correa.
The 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick widely seen as the organization’s top prospect and one of the best in all of baseball, 19-year-old Correa still has a lot of ground to cover in the Astros’ minor league system.
But here’s hoping/wishful thinking Correa can become the next Major League phenom in mold of a Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, who each made their major league debuts at 19-years-old.
It’s definitely difficult to have appreciation for a lengthy rebuilding project, especially while the team loses well more than 100 games a season.
That’s why it’s nice to see a small sprout named Springer blooming from the seeds planted in the once barren landscape that was the Astros franchise.