The Major League team might be in the American League West cellar, but the future looks bright for Astros fans willing to stick around for a couple of seasons.
After watching a pair of the team's top prospects put on a hitting clinic for Double-A Corpus Christi Monday, that's certainly the way Hooks manager Keith Bodie sees it.
"It's an exciting thing to look in the crystal ball for the Houston Astros right now and see the guys on the horizon," he said after the team's 14-4 win over Arkansas.
Center fielder George Springer hit a pair of home runs and drove in five runs and right fielder Domingo Santana homered and scratched out four hits in the win.
Springer, the No. 3 prospect in Houston's system, overtook Reno's Kila Ka'aihue for the Minor League lead with his 15th home run in the contest. The University of Connecticut product has boasted some of the Minor Leagues best tools' since Houston selected him in the first round (11th overall) in the 2011 Draft, and this season, he's answered questions about how his power and speed would actualize as he advanced in the Minor Leagues.
The 23-year-old is hitting .301 through 47 games with a 1.037 OPS and 15 stolen bases. He's driven in 40 runs, tied for the Texas League lead with Springfield's Xavier Scruggs, and ranks fifth in the league with 14 doubles.
"I'm very happy with the way he's trying to make some adjustment at the plate," Bodie said. "As well as he's doing, he still needs to make some adjustments from time to time."
It's apparent that Springer has made more than a few after struggling in a 22-game stint at Corpus Christi last season. He hit .219 with a .630 OPS in those games, and Bodie's very impressed by the way he regrouped and has emerged this season as perhaps the Minor League's most dominant player.
"He does a lot of good things," Bodie said. "He came up here last year at the end of the season in August, and he was not able to do those things.
"There are certain locations where people will throw to him and he has trouble getting to those points, but he's made adjustments to hit some pitches he's been getting after they got him out a certain way. He can come back and make those adjustments. You mature as you go through it, and it's a slow process at times, but he's doing a good job of doing it."
Springer's talents put him in a special category. Like everybody at Double-A, he still has strides to make, but at least athletically, he's in a rare class -- Bodie even mentioned Mike Trout as a player he saw at Double-A with a similarly diverse set of talents.
"When you're watching somebody who possesses those attributes and skills, namely the speed and the power, the sky is the limit for players like that," Bodie said. "Plus he plays a premium position.
"He's an exciting player, and he has a chance to be a perennial All-Star."
Of course, one big difference between Springer and Trout is that the latter passed through the Texas League at age 19, which is something Santana can relate to. The Astros' No. 13 prospect is getting his first Texas League taste at 20 and is flourishing of late.
For the season, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound right fielder is hitting .268 with eight homers and an .895 OPS. He's batting .325 over his past 10 games, bringing his May batting average up to .286 and his OPS for the month up to .938.
"He's 20 and in Double-A, but his talent is appropriate for this level right now," Bodie said. "I don't think he's too young for the level. His skills play at this level. He's also learning to make adjustments, and with his age, it's more about getting him his experience."
Santana was acquired from Philadelphia along with Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton and Josh Zeid as the player to be named later in the Hunter Pence deal in 2011, and he's done nothing but rake since. In 17 games in 2011, he hit .382 with a 1.109 OPS for Class A Advanced Lexington. Last year, in the California League, he hit .302 with a .921 OPS, and this year, he's begun to replicate that success in the Texas League.
"There are some young players in the Major Leagues right now that people think are young, but their skills and talent can play," Bodie said. "He's typical of that type of player.
"He makes things look easy in the outfield. He has a great throwing arm. He has plus speed. … He has tremendous bat potential. He has power and he makes hard, solid contact."
That duo wasn't alone Monday as left fielder Michael Burgess continued to break out of an early season slump. He hit two home runs and now sports four in his past seven games.
"He's had a lot of swings and misses, but he's running into the ball now," Bodie said. "Michael can hit. I watched him all year in [batting practice], and it hasn't translated into the games, but now that he has more confidence and more of an idea of getting the bat to the ball, well, the ball stays hit when he hits it."
Los Angeles' No. 3 prospect C.J. Cron hit his fifth homer and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. The Angels' No. 7 prospect, center fielder Randal Grichuk, left the game in the bottom of the third with tightness in his lower back.