Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 3/30/12
1. Paul Clemens and Jarred Cosart The Astros knew that Cosart had huge upside, but during spring training the organization was even more encouraged but what it saw from the 21-year-old pitcher. Clemens, 24, pitched just five innings this spring and allowed only two hits but he has the look of a front of the rotation pitcher. In fact, it's not hard to conceive Cosart and Clemens as the bona fide front two for the Astros for years. 2. Jonathan Singleton Even before he steps into the batter's box Singleton has the frame of a big-time prospect. He is nimble in his footwork around first base and his size suggests he will be a very productive offensive player. Singleton got 10 at-bats in the spring and produced four hits. In 1,099 minor league plate appearances, Singleton has a .393 on-base percentage. He is only 20 years old. 3. Jason Castro The Astros hope they can finally watch Castro for a full Major League season. Injuries wrecked 2011 but Castro has been perhaps the most encouraging sign of the 2012 spring, batting .306 and playing well defensively. While he may not be ready to catch a full nine innings consistently, the fact that Castro is healthy is a relief. As a former first-round pick, if Castro can become simply a good, solid every day catcher, it was a worthwhile selection. 4. Sabermetrics Like it or not, it's now an emphasis for several teams. Call it sabermetrics, data analysis or analytics, numbers crunching is the latest tool for predicting future player production. It's not the be-all, end-all but the Astros are utilizing a method now accepted as a valuable tool. New GM Jeff Luhnow had a good track record in analyzing players with the Cardinals and here's hope that trend continues. 5. The first overall pick of 2012 The reward for a 106-loss season is the top selection in the draft. Sure, top picks fail, but Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Joe Mauer were also taken at the top of the draft. The Astros absolutely have to get this one right and perhaps they can land a franchise-caliber player. 6. George Springer It's hard to judge a player off of 33 plate appearances as a professional. But, by all accounts, this kid has the ability to become a very good starting centerfielder and that means a lot at Minute Maid Park. 7. Renewed emphasis on customer service This is not to dismiss former owner Drayton McLane and his on-going effort to please the fans (signing Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and keeping Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell around for life). But new owner Jim Crane is undertaking a more grass-roots effort with initiatives such as allowing fans to bring food to the park. Crane gets the fact that attendance has been decreasing in recent years and he and his partners didn't spend over 600 million to allow that to continue. 8. J.D. Martinez No one predicts Martinez to become a perennial All-Star. But teams need for some players that weren't expected to have an impact at the big-league level surprise and Martinez is one of those guys. A former 20th-round pick, Martinez could very well become another solid every day run producer. There's value in that. 9. Visits by the Yankees and Red Sox Of course the majority of hardcore Astros fans are not happy with the coming switch to the American League. But watching the premier franchises in baseball at Minute Maid routinely is one benefit. 10. Jimmy Paredes Someone has to be able to turn all that skill and athleticism into a big leaguer. Paredes is one of those athletes whose talents scream big leaguer. But what's his position and can he put it all together to become a baseball player as opposed to a guy that just looks the part.
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