Kyle Tucker, Josh James named Astros’ MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Year
Let’s just say that the Astros’ minor league system has gobs of talent.
While the major league regular season still rages on like a Def Leppard concert in 1987, the minor league regular season, and postseason, have drawn to a close. It is usually around this time of the year that organizations announce their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
For an organization like the present-day Astros, sometimes it is a bit difficult to choose which prospects will wind up with the honor. Now, I could throw out speculative names, but the title of this post already defeated that purpose. Oh, well.
To nobody’s surprise, Kyle Tucker was named the team’s Minor League Player of the Year. Houston’s top position prospect in 2018, Tucker slashed .332/.400/.590 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI at the club’s Triple-A affiliate in 2018, the Fresno Grizzlies. His performance for Fresno also included 20 stolen bases and 30 extra-base hits, not counting home runs. It is easy to see why Tucker was tabbed as the Minor League Player of the Year for Houston, despite a .148/.246/.204 slash line across 61 major league plate appearances. Hint: don’t hold such a small sample against the club’s top position prospect.
On the pitching side, the field was a bit uncertain. Forrest Whitley, the club’s top pitching prospect entering 2018, missed extensive time with a suspension and injuries. There are plenty of capable pitchers in the Astros’ minor league system. At the end of the day, the Pitcher of the Year honor deservingly went to Josh James, who is currently on the Astros’ active roster like Tucker. The 25-year old right-hander posted a 3.23 ERA across 114 1/3 innings between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. But it was James’ ability to generate plenty of whiffs and strikeouts that caught everyone’s attention. When he was with the Corpus Christi Hooks, Houston’s Double-A affiliate, James struck out 38 batters compared to just 10 walks. In Fresno, he struck out 133 batters with only 39 walks. Despite only 16 major league innings for his professional career, James has a made a strong first impression with a 2.81 ERA and 24 strikeouts for the Astros.
There is no doubt that the Astros currently possess a deep farm system. While it may not be regarded as the top system in the game, the talent pool extends far and wide. Both Tucker and James are highly deserving of the honor, and only generates more excitement for their respective futures.