Houston Astros: Fresno Player Spotlight- Tony Kemp

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Mar 4, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Tony Kemp (78) tags St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz (73) as he slides into second base for the out during the inning at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Tony Kemp (78) tags St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz (73) as he slides into second base for the out during the inning at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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Houston Astros Have a Guy Ready to Step Up if Needed in Tony Kemp

The Fresno Grizzlies are off to try and defend their 2015 National Championship posting a 3-3 record in the first six games in the season. The top of their lineup is helping set the table for the rest of the offense. A key part of starting the trend of offensive production is second baseman Tony Kemp.

Drafted in the fifth round out of Vanderbilt in 2013, Kemp has shown what his role is as soon as he came into the Astros organization.

Kemp has a high contact bat with a speed specialty that stayed at the top of the lineup throughout his minor league career. In his career, Kemp has a .306 average with 97 stolen bases.

This season is no different for Kemp. After six games, Kemp has an average of .474 with a .583 on-base percentage, and four runs scored.

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Although it is a small sample size to start the season, there are some things to watch for as 2016 progresses for Kemp. First of all, all 9 of his hits this season are singles. His slap hit ability is nice at the top of the lineup, but look for Kemp to step up his extra base hit ability as the season progresses. This will give Fresno even better offensive opportunities near the heart of their order.

Also, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) his tremendous to start 2016. At a sky-high .643, Kemp is getting balls in play and then using his speed to take first. However, based on his first five games, his strikeout and walk percentages are both higher than normal at 20.8% and 16.7% respectively. That will affect his BABIP later on.

Another part of his game that hasn’t started to take shape yet this season is his stolen base game. Usually a pretty good runner on the base paths with a 71.8% stolen base percentage, Kemp has recorded no stolen bases on two attempts so far this season.

Even though his stats in years past have been impressive, with a .308 batting average, .773 OPS, and 35 stolen bases in 2015, Kemp looks to be in a bit of a logjam at second base. With Jose Altuve taking the major league spot with what seems to be for good, Kemp has taken some reps in the outfield in years past. However, with a major league outfield spot hard to get these days, Kemp could be an interesting piece that the Astros could prove to be expendable. He may turn into the guy that beat writers start to talk about when the trade deadline and winter meetings come along.

I could see him on the major league club to replace a guy like Jake Marisnick to be a fifth outfielder, but with Colby Rasmus in left, Carlos Gomez, for the time being, in center, and George Springer in right, Kemp doesn’t have a starting spot on this team.

Next: Houston Astros: Evan Gattis is Transitioning to Catcher

Until he forces the Astros hand, Kemp will continue to be the table setter for the big bats in the Grizzlies such as A.J. Reed and Colin Moran.

***Stats by milb.com and fangraphs.com***

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