HOUSTON -- There's at least one member of the Astros' organization with a soft spot for the Cardinals.
Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow spent more than eight years in the Cardinals' scouting department -- six as St. Louis' vice president scouting and player development -- and said he takes pride in the young core helping his former team to success.
"They're the best team in baseball," Luhnow said. "I have a lot of mixed emotions because I know so many of the players over there and known them throughout their baseball careers. I root for them as individuals and the organization is first class. Once first pitch comes, though, it's competition and one team comes out on top."
Before Wednesday's game, Luhnow chatted with several of his former prospects, including Joe Kelly, Seth Maness and Michael Blazek.
Overall, Luhnow had a hand in drafting or internationally signing 28 of the 43 players that are either on St. Louis' 40-man roster or on the disabled list.
Luhnow keeps tabs on many of them daily and said he "probably pays more attention to [the Cardinals]" than any other team besides the Astros. Even though he's no longer with the organization, he feels a person investment in the players' careers.
"No question I'm happy to see them do well," he said. "Any time you're involved in drafting a player and they make it to the big leagues, it's something you're proud about. That's what we all try and do as scouts and coaches, is help players get better and succeed. I'm hoping we follow that same path [in Houston] that I was involved in with the Cardinals."
Though Matt Carpenter wasn't a late-round pick, Luhnow identified the second baseman's progression from the 2009 First-Year Player Draft to his current status as the most impressive St. Louis prospect he had a hand in selecting.
"Matt Carpenter is having a tremendous year," Luhnow said. " A 13th round pick out of TCU, a senior sign; not the typical profile of a guy who goes through the Minors as quickly as he has and had the impact he's had, especially with the positional change. He's one I'm particularly proud of."
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.