When I saw early this morning that the Astros had hired Jeff Luhnow to be their new GM, I was excited. His player development experience with the Cardinals is his main calling card. I have seen the rise in the Johnson City Cardinals over the last few years.
Maybe we can get a glimpse of what to expect by looking at the progress of the Cardinal short season teams. The Cardinals and Astros both have three short season teams in the United States. Both have a GCL team, as well as a team in the Appy & NYPL.
Luhnow took over his role in player development in the fall of 2003. So lets go back to 2004 and see how each team has fared and what kind of MLB level production has been created. (Players listed don't include rehab stints)
GCL Cards - 2007 to present
2007 - finished in 3rd place with a 24-30 record. Players with MLB time on roster - 3 (Eduardo Sanchez, Tony Cruz, Pete Kozma).
2008 - finished 17-38 and in last place.
2009 - finished in 3rd with a 25-31 record.
2010 - finished 28-28 and in 3rd place again.
2011 - finished in 2nd with a 31-24 record.
Johnson City Cardinals - Appy League
2004 - posted a 33-35 record and finished 3rd in the Appy West. Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (Mark Worrell)
2005 - posted a 28 -39 record and finished 5th in the west. Players with MLB time on roster - 3 (Colby Rasmus, Bryan Anderson, & Daniel Barone.
2006 - posted a 34-34 record and finished 5th again. Players with MLB time on roster 3 (Brandon Dickson, Luke Gregorson, Kyle McClellan).
2007 - posted a 28-40 record and finished 3rd in the west. Players with MLB time on roster - 5 (Adron Chambers, Tony Cruz, Pete Kozma, Brian Brodrick, and Eduardo Sanchez).
2008 - posted a 36-30 record and finished 2nd. Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (David Carpenter - yes the one on the Astros).
2009 - posted a 37-30 record and again finished 2nd.
2010 - eked out a one game lead over the E-Twins for the West pennant with a 42-24 record.
2011 - claimed back to back Appy titles with a 45-23 record.
New Jersey Cardinals/ State College Spikes/ Batvia Muckdogs Cardinals - NYPL
2004 - finished 2nd in their division with a 41-34 record. Players with MLB time on roster - 5 - (Joe Mather, Jarett Hoffpauir, Dennis Dove, Cory Doyne, & Mike Parisi)
2005 - finished 4th in their division with a 37-39 record. Players with MLB time on roster - 3 (Tyler Greene, Mitchell Boggs, Blake Hawksworth).
2006 - finished 4th in their division with a 39-36 record. Players with MLB time on roster - 7 (David Carpenter, Allen Craig, Mark Hamilton, Brendan Ryan, Luke Gregerson, Jason Motte, Adam Ottavino & P. J. Walters)
2007 - finished 31-47 and in 5th place. Players with MLB time - 9 (Andrew Brown, David Carpenter, Tony Cruz, Daniel Descalso, Steven Hill, Pete Kozma, Brian Broderick, Clayton Mortenson, & Jess Todd)
2008 - finished in first in their division with a 46-28 record. Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (Lance Lynn)
2009 - finished 4th in their division with a 37-39 record. Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (Matt Carpenter).
2010 - won their division with a 45-29 record.
2011 - finished 4th in their division with a 37-38 record.
Since 2004, the Cardinals short season teams have produced 34 players who have seen time on MLB rosters. Fourteen of those players are on the 40 man roster for the Cards.
During that same time frame, the Astros have produced 21 players who have donned a MLB uniform. Nine of those players currently grace the Astros 40 man roster.
This gives some hope that he can build a farm system. Since the Astros have just leveled their system a few years ago and have laid what appears to be a good foundation, I expect we will see results at a faster pace than his time with the Cardinals showed. Time will tell.