Time to shine a light on Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies infielder Tyler White.
Tyler White is no stranger to Astros fans, who’ve seen him in big league action in 2016 and 2017. What might surprise fans, however, is how successful and versatile White has been with Fresno this season. He’s positioning himself nicely for a role with the big club in the near future.
White was the Astros’ 33rd-round draft pick in 2013 out of Western Carolina. He started off with a .322/.406/.456 line in 2013 across Rookie League and Short Season Class-A. In 2014, he hit .290/.410/.501 combined between Quad Cities and Lancaster.
He split 2015 almost evenly between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing .325/.442/.496 total. While he provided decent power numbers, the real story was with his strikeout-to-walk ratios. Across his first three professional seasons, White drew 174 walks and struck out just 164 times.
White opened the 2016 season as the Astros’ starting first baseman, but struggled to a .217/.286/.378 line with 65 strikeouts against just 23 walks. His struggles continued back in Fresno, as he hit just .241/.305/.500.
2017 saw an improvement in his output, as he hit .300/.371/.528 with 25 homers in 111 Triple-A games. He also logged a .279/.328/.525 line in 22 big league appearances. But he struck out 117 times and drew just 51 walks total.
That ratio has been dramatically corrected so far in 2018. White has drawn 32 walks and struck out just 21 times in his first 44 games, hitting .360/.477/.596. He leads the team in on-base percentage and is tied for the team lead in home runs. He has reached base safely in every game so far this season.
White split time exclusively between first base and third base in his first three professional seasons. Since then, however, he’s become a true utility player. He’s started at least four games at all four infield positions this season and also has limited experience in left field.
White is in the midst of a fantastic season for Fresno. He’s displaying an incredible ability to reach base, which would definitely be valuable to the Astros. Unfortunately for him, Tony Kemp and J.D. Davis are also having great seasons, and they’re currently in the majors.
At age 27, White’s ceiling isn’t going to be much higher than where he is now. But if he can get his current production to carry over, he may earn a permanent spot in the big leagues. At the very least, he can provide versatility and a solid on-base percentage. This gives the Astros excellent infield depth should the need arise.
***Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com***