The original release in 2018, Kyle Tucker Makes Astros Debut, didn’t do well. Some considered it a flop and wondered if Part II was worth a shot. It was.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow refused to include Kyle Tucker in any offseason trades, time and time again. Labeled as one of his “untouchable” prospects, he never gave up on him, even when some fans were starting to lose faith. It’s starting to look like Luhnow’s patience is paying off.
Rewinding to July 7, 2018, Kyle Tucker gets called up and makes his much-anticipated Major League debut. The 21-year-old was expected to become the Astros next left fielder. They had gone through four or five outfielders in search of a solid productive player to take up the position. Houston options Jake Marisnick down and it’s finally Tucker’s chance to shine.
Unfortunately, for the Astros and for Kyle Tucker, things didn’t go according to plan. He appeared in 28 games last season and ended up with a slash line of .141/.236/.203 and a 23 OPS+, with not one home run credited to his name. Fans were getting impatient, as fans sometimes do, and some were going as far as calling him a bust.
But still having faith in him, the Astros had Tucker report to this year’s Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. He would be able to get in some more experience with the big boys and maybe prove he’s worthy of that #1 prospect ranking. He wasn’t able to make the most of it having a mediocre showing, as he batted .276 and was still lacking any power with zero homers.
As the Astros offseason progressed, the chorus of fans calling for him to be traded was getting louder. Get something for him while you can, include him in a package deal for a big named catcher or an elite starting pitcher. Luhnow would have nothing to do with it.
It was looking even worse for Tucker as the beginning of his 2019 Minor League season was looking grim. In the first 30 games, he was slashing .204/.265/.472. But as the season wore on, he was starting to look like that highly coveted prospect again. He rose his batting average to .266 and saw the power in his bat return, amassing 34 home runs and knocking in 97 runs by the end of August.
It was now time for the September call-ups, and Tucker would get a second chance at the Majors. He has appeared in 12 games since his promotion and he seems to be taking advantage of the opportunity. His numbers are impressive at .353/.389/.529 and an OPS+ of 138, and he finally got that first Major League homer back on Sept. 5th.
Last night’s performance is a culmination of Tucker’s perseverance. He reached base all five plate appearances with four singles and a walk, adding two stolen bases on the night. It’s only been two weeks, but it appears the Astros are reaping the benefits of the patience of the front office and the doggedness of Kyle Tucker. Who knows, he may even earn a spot on the postseason roster.