By Collin Gay.
Next: A.J. Reed
Backup: Tyler White
Depth: Colin Moran (#23, MLB Pipeline)
Future: Yordan Alvarez (#14, MLB Pipeline)
At this time last season, the Astros seemed to have a lot of promise at the first base position. On Opening Day of the 2016 season, the Astros had a top prospect in A.J. Reed that seemed to be the future of the first base position. Now, after a disappointing major league stint last season and underwhelming numbers since his demotion back to Triple-A Fresno, the first base question still may have to be on the table.
That is not to say that Reed’s upside has decreased. He still has the opportunity to be a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Astros for years to come. So far this season, he has 23 extra base hits, including eight home runs, and has driven in 33 RBIs. However, after never hitting below .270 before his major league call-up, Reed is only hitting .254 with only a .437 slugging percentage. Part of that has to do with his strikeout numbers, with 70 strikeouts in 213 at-bats.
Despite the extremely high expectation attached to Reed, his success, or lack thereof, does not determine the future success of the position. First of all, Tyler White, another Fresno first baseman with some major league playing time, could provide serviceable playing time until a long-term answer is found. More of a contact-first hitter, White has turned into more of a utility man in his time with the Grizzlies, finding playing time all around the infield.
However, if Reed is not the answer, a 19-year-old in Single-A Quad Cities may be it. Acquired in the deal that sent RHP Josh Fields to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Yordan Alvarez has been tearing it up for the River Bandits this season. Named to the Midwest League All-Star team, Alvarez is hitting .413 with five home runs and 20 RBIs with a 1.193 OPS. If Reed is not working out, it would not be surprising to see the young Cuban on the fast track to the majors here soon.
The Astros and the first baseman position is a love/hate relationship. Even with seemingly youthful and exciting talent, there seems to be a lack of production. First base is always a position that the Astros could look for more depth in.
Need: Moderate, level 3