Astros top prospect Kyle Tucker is making noise early in Spring Training. What should fans expect from him in 2018?
Tucker’s name has been well-known among Astros fans for a while now. The team’s top position player prospect hit .265/.325/.512 in 72 games after his promotion to Double-A in 2017. His combined 25 homers and 90 RBIs last year at age 20 give a tantalizing glimpse at the future. But when does the future arrive?
Likely starting in Corpus
After starting 2017 in High-A and earning a promotion to Double-A, it seems likely Tucker will begin the season in Corpus Christi. While his strong play this spring may leave fans wondering if he’ll make the big league roster, that won’t happen barring a major injury.
Still, he should get plenty of at-bats this spring to show off what he can do. His stock could continue to rise even further, and he could be in line for an earlier call-up should the big league team need him.
If injuries are not a factor, Tucker will likely spend at least a few weeks with the Hooks. If he continues his strong play, he should see a promotion to Triple-A Fresno by the summer. Then it’s a matter of finding a spot for him in Houston.
How he gets to Houston
Tucker’s chances of joining the Astros before September call-ups depend on if there’s room for him. There are a few ways that could happen.
Obviously, Tucker could find himself in Houston in the event of a long-term injury to a starting outfielder. If it’s a short-term injury, the team may turn to Jon Kemmer or another player from Triple-A to plug the gap. But if there’s a chance for Tucker to get regular at-bats for an extended period, he may get a ticket to H-Town.
Another way is if Derek Fisher struggles as he did in 2017. His .212/.307/.356 line won’t keep him in a starting role if it continues this season. If Fisher’s numbers look like that in June, and Tucker impresses in the minors, the Astros could have a new left fielder.
A trade could also open the door for Tucker. If both he and Fisher hit well this season, and the Astros are in need of a significant upgrade prior to the trade deadline, the team could use Fisher as trade bait. Jeff Luhnow could fill a need and open a spot for Tucker in one fell swoop.
Regardless, it’s going to be a season to watch for Tucker. How things progress in 2018 could greatly affect his future and the teams. With any luck, he could solidify himself as a key piece of some great Astros teams going forward.
***Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference***