Astros Plan For Yulieski Gurriel, What’s His ETA?
By Eric Huysman
When Will Yulieski Gurriel Make His Astros’ Debut?
The Houston Astros are coming off a week where they went 2-5 versus the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers. As I mentioned on Talking Stros last night, the Astros were not dominated as much as the record might show. Most of the games were close, but the Astros offense could not put up much of a fight versus the Jays and Rangers staff who have struggled recently. The lack of offensive punch at the moment could cause the Astros to miss the playoffs in 2016.
Remember the time that the Astros signed Yulieski Gurriel, everything revolving around the Astros was on the upswing. Jeff Luhnow signed Gurriel to be that proven bat in the middle of the batting order to stabilize the lineup. Even though he has been a seasoned professional baseball player for more than a decade in Cuba (2001), he has not played since February.
The Astros had a choice when considering signing Gurriel. Do they trade for a veteran hitter at the trade deadline or do they take a gamble on one of the best players in international baseball? While there were rumors that the Astros were after Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy, the Astros were not convinced that they were not worth the price. My co-host Brandon said that other teams were seeking Joseph Musgrove and Alex Bregman.
Instead of making a deal for 2016, the Astros acquire a player that could help them win for the rest of the season, but mostly for the next four seasons. Luhnow recently said that they would not rush Gurriel because the offense has struggled. Gurriel started with the Gulf Coast League Astros for two games where he batted .286 with a double. He served as the designated hitter for those two games.
He then reported to Lancaster and played four games there, concluding last night with a great evening. The 32-year-old Gurriel will report to Corpus Christi to play with the Hooks per Brian McTaggart. Last night, Gurriel was the DH in a 12-10 loss to Modesto. He had two extra-base hits, a double and a grand slam, driving in five runs. This is a preview of what he could offer the Astros soon. He finished his stint with Lancaster 6-14, .428 batting average, with two doubles and a homer while driving in nine.
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He will join the Hooks Tuesday, he could play three to four games there before either making his debut at Toronto this weekend or at home versus the Cardinals starting next Tuesday. I don’t see the Astros sending him to Fresno, they are just getting him exposed to upper minor league pitching in Double-A.
Unlike Alex Bregman, the Astros are counting on Gurriel producing as soon as he arrives. He is a veteran professional hitter. We talked about last night on Talking Stros that the Astros are possibly getting a work visa for Gurriel for Canada should he join the team this weekend. However, it’s more likely that he spends the week in Corpus before joining the Astros in Houston versus the Cardinals.
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Where will he play? Most likely at DH or third base, he is set to play third base while with the Hooks. Gurriel could help the Astros, but they need to hit better until he comes up. Having a hitter like this for the next few years will be amazing.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MiLB.com***