The Houston Astros notable mid-season acquisition has already begun to leave his mark.
When you think of the inaction the Astros took at the trade deadline, please remember that the team did take a risk. And that risk’s name is Yulieski Gurriel.
And so far that $47.5 million dollar investment has looked like a competent major leaguer for the Astros. Of course, we are talking about a small sample size of, you know, 18 at-bats.
Gurriel, the 32-year old Cuban slugger, has only played in just a handful of games even though he has been in the majors for over a week. You can blame that on a troublesome hamstring injury he experienced in his first game as an Astro. But that was also the same that the collected his first major league hit.
Since his return from that hamstring injury, Gurriel has shown what the Astros seen in him when they committed that large contract: his potential with the bat. Even though he has just a mere seven games of experience, Gurriel has posted a slash of .389/.450/.500. There have been much worse major league debuts.
And like I said, he has shown his potential in this short amount of time. For example, he had two hits in last night’s 6-0 win over the Oakland Athletics. Before that he also had a stretch of hitting three doubles in a row.
That type of production is exactly what the Astros offense needs, especially with Luis Valbuena out of the rest of the season with his own hamstring injury. And Gurriel should only improve as he continues to grow more comfortable in a major league batters box. With his bat and experience in Cuba, he could have a leg up on the competition.
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Of course that is assuming if pitchers don’t start adjusting to him in the meantime.
Adjustments will be the key to Gurriel’s staying power in the majors. He will begin to see more pitchers adjusting to his strengths and make him work for every hit. Unless he surprises everyone, an adjustment process is more than likely on the horizon. Don’t forget that Gurriel did go 4-for-18 and 2-for-17 with the Fresno Grizzlies and Corpus Christi Hooks respectively before his Astros debut.
His defense will also play a part in his story. The Astros will play him quite a bit at designated hitter and third base more than likely. Heck, even some left field may be in order. How he handles the field along with his bat could dictate how valuable he could possibly be for the Astros.
Overall, his first seven games have been promising. While his hamstring injury derailed Gurriel for a few days, he has shown enough when healthy to justify the Astros belief in him for the time being. That could all change though as opposing teams adjust their strategy to the Cuban slugger. But the Astros may have someone on the roster who can help this team for the foreseeable future.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference and MLB.com**