Could Bregman be an Astro as soon as Friday?
All signs are pointing for Alex Bregman, the Astros’ top prospect, to be called up on Friday before the Astros host the Los Angeles Angels. From Bregman saying on a Houston area radio show about a potential call-up, “I think he’s wearing red and gray,” to Kevin Chapman tweeting out today congratulating Bregman (on winning a card game apparently) causing a Twitter frenzy.
With offensive numbers that seem to be ready for The Show and holes around the diamond for the Astros to fill, the time is now for Bregman to make his first impression at the major league level. However, like another top Astros prospect in A.J. Reed, the expectations for Bregman to perform immediately are sky-high.
The Astros are smack dab in the middle of the playoff hunt, 4.5 games back of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers and 2.5 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays who hold the second Wild Card spot. Bregman is expected, not only by fans but by the Astros organization as well, to be the trade deadline “acquisition” to put the Astros over the top.
Bregman has the numbers that warrant a big league call-up. In 14 games with Triple-A Fresno, Bregman is hitting .371 with 1.158 OPS, six home runs, and 15 RBIs. However, as Astros fans have seen with Reed, the major leagues are a whole different ballgame than Triple-A and especially the Pacific Coast League.
Bregman’s very first MLB at bat will most likely come from between two of the most solid offensive performers the Astros has to offer in right-fielder George Springer and All-Star second baseman and MVP candidate Jose Altuve. It’s a position that utility man Marwin Gonzalez has taken in stride. In his 28 games batting second, he is hitting .284 with a .768 OPS.
Even though he has the name to take Gonzalez’s spot in the starting lineup, Bregman will have to show that he has staying power in a major league uniform. That is why Gonzalez is still getting at-bats at first base while Reed is on the bench. There are things that Bregman is going to need to do in these potential two games against Round Rock to be ready for the call-up.
First, he is going to have to prove himself at third base and in left field. Bregman is starting tonight in left field for the Grizzlies. This will be the first time that he has played left field in a game in his short career in the Astros organization. In his 12 games this year playing third base, Bregman has one error in 96.1 innings. He also impressed nationally from that position, playing the majority of the Futures Game at third base. If the Astros just want his bat in the lineup, they will find a place to play him.
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Second, and more importantly, Bregman is going to have to show some patience at the plate. If you look at the stats of Reed, his walk percentage has remained stagnant while his strikeout percentage has skyrocketed from Triple-A to the majors. As I have said before in regards to Reed, major league pitchers, including the ones with mediocre numbers, love to use hitters’ weaknesses against them. That is why Bregman will not put up similar numbers as a member of the Astros than with the Grizzlies.
Going into tonight’s game, Bregman has a walk percentage at 4.6% and a strikeout percentage at 16.9%, which is seven points higher than any other level he has played at. As Geoff Blum, the Astros color commentator for Root Sports, briefly mentioned in today’s game in regards to Reed, the difference between Triple-A pitchers and major league pitchers is the quality of pitches within the strike zone. If Bregman wants to be successful at the major league level, he will eventually have to develop patience at the plate.
I’m not saying that Bregman should not be called up. His numbers are incredible. I’m just saying that expectations should be limited to him going into what should be a very entertaining playoff hunt. Bregman will be a good player for this Astros team. Astros fans should not put the “savior” tag on him for their 2016 playoff run
***Stats provided by MLB.com, MiLB.com, Baseball Reference, and FanGraphs***