Time to shine a spotlight on Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies outfielder Myles Straw.
For all the hoopla surrounding the red-hot Kyle Tucker, there might be another Astros‘ outfield prospect who makes noise this season. Resident speed demon Myles Straw, recently promoted to Triple-A, could find himself a frequent pinch runner in September.
The 23-year-old was ranked as the organization’s 20th-best prospect, but his stock could be rising. Overall, he’s hitting .330/.414/.401 with 43 steals in 76 games this season. While only 14 of his 98 hits have gone for extra bases, his speed and strong contact ability make him an interesting player to watch.
Straw was the Astros’ 12th-round draft pick in 2015 out of St. Johns River State College. His debut in Rookie League was unspectacular, with a .268/.355/.344 line and 22 steals in 31 attempts.
He started 2016 in Class-A and impressed, hitting .374/.432/.470 in 68 games. He stole 17 bases in 27 attempts. In 19 games in Class-A advanced, he hit .303/.393/.395 and was 4-for-6 in stolen base attempts.
Straw opened 2017 in Class-A advanced and slashed .295/.412/.373 in 114 games, swiping 36 bags in 45 tries. He struggled following a promotion to Double-A, hitting just .239/.340/.239 in 13 games.
The struggles have disappeared in 2018, however. Straw hit .327/.414/.390 in 65 games with Corpus Christi and .348/.412/.457 in his first 11 Triple-A games. Between the two levels, he’s stolen 43 bags in 50 tries.
The main knock on Straw at this point is he’s primarily a slap hitter, a trait the Astros are trying to correct. He’s hit just three home runs in his professional career to this point, which many evaluators see as an issue.
However, he’s also carrying a .313 batting average and .404 on-base percentage across his minor league career with 124 stolen bases. For a guy who puts up those numbers, hitting homers is more of a luxury than a necessity. He puts the ball in play and uses his elite speed to test defenders and turn singles into doubles.
Barring injury, Straw seems destined to be a September call-up at least. With Tony Kemp hitting .319 for the Astros, there isn’t much playing time for Straw or Tucker at this point. But he could affect a few games in September and position himself to battle for a roster spot next spring.