J.B. Shuck was a standout at Ohio State University as both a hitter and a pitcher. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2006 and was drafted by Ed Wade and the Astros in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. The left-handed swinging outfielder moved quickly through the Astros system, hitting right around .300 at every level. He was invited to Spring Training last season after playing only 36 games at the AAA level in 2010.
Shuck had a nice spring and probably should have made the Opening Day roster, but the Astros chose to send him to AAA so he could play every day. After earning PCL All-Star honors Shuck finally got the call and made his big league debut on August 5. Shuck hit .272/.359/.321 in 37 games with the big club.
I think Shuck projects as a fourth outfielder and pinch-hitter at best. He has the potential to hit for a high average but doesn’t walk much and is not a power threat. Shuck can play all three outfield positions and has a decent throwing arm. He has good speed and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. But speed alone does not a base stealer make. Shuck has only been successful on 62% of his attempted steals in the minors, including 20 of 31 last season at Oklahoma City.
The Astros outfield situation is a crowded one. Shuck could once again find himself on the outside looking in. With minor league options remaining, I would expect J.B. to be shuttled up and down between Houston and Oklahoma City at least a couple of times in 2012. Shuck will need to show continued improvement if he intends to stick with the big club.