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Astros want to build a farm system like the Royals'

By Ryan Aber, Staff Writer, raber@opubco.com Published: July 9, 2011
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The Kansas City Royals haven't had much on-field success in the last decade — or two.

But the Royals appear ready to make a step forward with a large group of top-level prospects beginning to break through to the major league level.

Kansas City had five players on MLB.com's list of the game's top 50 prospects earlier this year. The Houston Astros, the RedHawks' parent club, had just one — No. 31 Jordan Lyles.

Two of the Royals on the MLB list, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, have reached the majors this year. A prospect who wasn't on the list, Aaron Crow, made this week's All-Star Game after making his debut this season.

Houston hasn't been down for as long as Kansas City has been. But the Royals' approach of building from the lowest levels of the minor leagues up through drafting and player development is one Houston would like to emulate.

“If you look at the concept, I think that's exactly where we're headed,” Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said.

But Nelson cautioned that the influx of talent might not be as dramatic as it has been in Kansas City, at least among players drafted in the first round.

From 1992-2008, the Astros finished below .500 just twice. The Royals haven't finished better than .500 since 2003 and just once since 1995.

“When they were drafting first, we were drafting in the middle of the pack and further back,” Nelson said. “That being said, that concept is exactly what we're looking for.

“Our major league club over the years has gotten a little old and expensive.

“We're just in the process of rebuilding it back up.”

The problems go deeper than where the Astros have selected, though.

Houston didn't have a true first-round pick three times in the last decade, losing the picks as compensation for free-agent signings.

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