The writing was on the wall after watching the way George Springer looked after he ran into the wall as fast as he did in Tuesday’s game. I wrote last night that Springer was going to be looked at after possibly suffering a concussion. Unfortunately, the Astros put Springer on the seven-day DL during the ninth inning of a blowout loss. Astros nation should be in mourning to be without their superstar, but Twitter is abuzz as to who will be replacing him.
The person replacing George Springer for at least the seven games is Preston Tucker. Drafted in 2012, Tucker has risen quickly through the Astros farm system. He has always been underrated in his career, and he has proven doubters wrong at each level of the minor leagues. Some call him “Bam-Bam” because he is a guy who swings a big stick. Let’s look at what Tucker has done prior to the 2015 season in the minors.
Tucker was selected by the Astros in the 2012 draft in the seventh round and signed quickly to get into professional game action. Preston’s younger brother Kyle is supposed to be a first-round talent in the 2015 draft. Kyle is committed to playing at the University of Florida like his older brother before him. If the Astros did draft Kyle Tucker, they could be like the Upton brothers.
Let’s look at what Tucker has done prior to the 2015 season in the minors.
In 2013, he hit .297/ 25 home runs/ 103 RBI. This was his second year in the minors between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. In 2014, which was his third year in the minors, Tucker hit .282/ 24 home runs/ 94 RBI’s between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City. Even though it’s not drastic, Tucker has struggled a little adjusting to the new level. So Tucker may struggle for at first, or he may continue hitting like he has all season.
After his cup of tea in Triple-A last season, Tucker has been on fire with the Fresno Grizzles to start off the season. Below are his stats from the 2015 season as a Grizzly:
2015 (AAA) – .320/ 19 runs/ 10 homers/ 32 RBI/ 1.028 OPS.
What Does He Offer the Astros?
The biggest thing that he offers the Astros off the bat is as a replacement for Springer. He will not play the same way as Springer because he doesn’t have near the same speed on the bases or in the field. What he can offer is a higher batting average, lower strikeout rate, and a consistent RBI guy in the middle of the Astros order. Will he be that guy right away? That’s on the shoulders of Tucker to determine. The Astros need a consistent hitter in between the all-or-nothing sluggers in the middle of the order.
Tucker also hits from the left side so that he could be used as the Luis Valbuena type of lefty between the Astros right-handed power hitters. Here is my suggestion for the Astros lineup with Tucker:
2B – Jose Altuve
3b – Luis Valbuena
DH – Evan Gattis
Rf – Preston Tucker
1b – Chris Carter
Lf – Colby Rasmus
Cf – Jake Marisnick
C – Jason Castro
ss – Marwin Gonzalez
I have no clue what batting order the Astros will use due to A.J. Hinch‘s knack for having a different batting order so often. This lineup splits up some of the right-handed hitters and moves Gattis up to the three hole while Springer is out. This also moves Chris Carter down in the batting order a little. Swapping Carter and Rasmus in the lineup is something I can see happening as well.
My Projection for the rest of the season for Tucker: .280/ 13 homers/ 62 RBI’s. Of course, this is if he gets to stay longer than the seven days he is assured with Springer out. If he performs well, perhaps Robbie Grossman could be on the move.
What Will Astros do When Springer Returns?
Springer will eventually return from the DL, and the Astros will then have a decision to make. As long as Tucker is not struggling constantly, he will be on Houston’s roster and in the lineup when Springer returns. The most obvious decision would be to send Jonathan Villar back to AAA, or at least that’s what the fans would want. The problem with that is they would only have one backup infielder unless one of the outfielders can play first base. The Astros have not mentioned this, but Tucker did play some first base in college.
The Astros will have to make some tough calls in the near future. Until then, let’s enjoy another one of our potential future All-Star players in Preston Tucker in his MLB debut. If Tucker can show that he can handle first base, the Astros might keep him over Villar on the roster. Another option for the Astros is to return to carrying only 12 pitchers, but with the recent pitching woes, this looks doubtful.
Even though the decision to not put Springer on the DL didn’t affect the outcome of last night’s game, the Astros made an error in decision-making not getting the extra hitter on the roster. Hinch probably wanted to wait to see what was going on with Springer, in case he would be alright to start tonight.
Welcome to the big leagues Preston, we hope your stay is long and productive.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer