The Astros set their 40-man roster Friday, and Brian McTaggart had a nice post summarizing the club's process leading up to the roster deadline.
Ed Wade indicates in his interview with McTaggart that losing players in the Rule 5 draft is a sign that your farm system is where it needs to be. After reading McTaggart's article and having correpsondence with a person more knowledgeable of the Rule 5 Draft than myself, I don't think the Astros are in danger of losing the players they left unprotected. However, the fact that there is not room for a player like Kody Hinze is a good sign that the system is getting stronger.
The Astros' general manager, whoever that may be in November 2012, will have an even tougher job setting the 40-man roster next fall. The list of players who will be eligible for next December's Rule 5 draft includes: Jay Austin, Jacob Goebbert, Dallas Keuchel, Brett Oberholtzer, Ross Seaton, Jonathan Villar, Brandon Wikoff, and Josh Zeid. This list could grow larger if the Astros get more prospects in trades. It is encouraging to see indications that the system is heading in a direction where it is too full to hold all of its talent.