Astros Kyle Tucker: Promising Prospect or Trade Asset?
Kyle Tucker is a trade asset or the future for the Astros.
A name that will come up in connection with the Astros often over the next few months is Kyle Tucker. Currently, the fifteenth ranked prospect according to Baseball America. Tucker represents the future for the Astros in a number of ways.
Tucker is untouchable. He is the next big thing to come up from the farm system, following in the footsteps of George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.
Tucker is the trade chip that will land the next star player in the race for the 2018 World Series. Already rumored to have been a piece in the potential trade for the Marlins JT Realmuto, it is only a matter of time before the Astros find the perfect return for their top hitting prospect.
Drafted fifth overall in the 2015 draft, Tucker represented the next big wave of Astros talent alongside Bregman and Daz Cameron. Bregman made short work of the minor leagues and contributed to the 2017 World Series winning team. Cameron was a piece of the deal that brought Verlander to the club. Tucker has made his way up the ranks slowly and efficiently. He spent the final 72 games of the 2017 season in Double-A Corpus Christi.
So what is it about Tucker that makes him so special?
To see Tucker in person is to see a swing that is not pretty. It has a certain “Hunter Pence” feel to it, which Astros fans might remember well. But, putting that aside, “there is great bat speed, a very good understanding of the strike zone, plus raw power and above average foot speed” according to Rich Wilson at prospect361.com.
Tucker has averaged a .272/.341/.457 slash line in his three seasons since being drafted. He accumulated 37 home runs and 71 stolen bases in that span. This, according to Wilson, “feels like a left-handed version of Wil Myers.” This combination was on full display at the 2017 Futures Game in Miami, where Tucker started and went 1-3 with a double.
With home runs being all the rage last year, it is not hard to see why the Astros and every other club in the MLB would be excited about a prospect with that rare combination of speed and power.
What Comes Next?
Astros General Manager Jeff Lunhow has wisely held on to Tucker through a number of trade conversations. He was notably able to acquire both Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole without parting with the prized prospect. What remains to be seen is if Tucker takes his place among the Astros big leaguers, or headlines the next big deal Lunhow swings.
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It was a shock to see Tucker’s name rumored to be going to Miami for Realmuto. With McCann, Gattis, and Stassi on the roster, for the time being, it seems like Realmuto would have been too much of a surplus. At least the way the team is structured now. And giving up Tucker for a position that is not a desperate need for the time being feels like a bad idea.
There are no guarantees when projecting prospects. Just look at the long list of players who have been top-ranked prospects that never panned out. But it is hard to deny that Tucker has that special something that the core Astros players embody.
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Here’s hoping that unless a name like Chris Archer is involved, Tucker remains a Houston Astro. And he helps continue building upon the foundation that has been set for years to come.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***