Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker could be facing a make or break season in determining his future as a permanent fixture here in Houston.
Tucker is at an important turning point in his career with the Astros. He is the supposed heir apparent to take over in left field or at least share that position this season with Josh Reddick in a platoon situation. But his slow start so far in spring training brings back memories of disappointing stints in his career that have hindered his progress in Houston’s system.
Tucker has been one of the Astros top prospects for a number of years now. In fact, he has been ranked in the top five of Houston’s prospects ever since he was drafted in 2015. Tucker had great success at the AAA level in 2018 and that resulted in him being called up midseason. Maybe it was too soon or just nerves, but that Major League debut was a bust slashing .141/.236/.203.
Due to those very disappointing numbers, he was relegated to starting out the 2019 season back down in the Minors. He struggled mightily the first month of the season, bounced back and had nice numbers in May and June, but then endured a miserable July. Point being, Tucker seems to be on a rollercoaster of a career lacking any consistent level of play.
Even though he had an up and down 2019 in AAA, the Astros decided to give him another shot with the big boys and brought him back up with the September callups. Tucker had some moments with the Astros last season that were encouraging and showed promise. Maybe this was his time to step in as regular in the lineup.
The trouble is if you dissect his time with the Astros last season, he was once again very inconsistent. His overall 2019 MLB performance looks decent on paper when you see that he slashed .269/.316/.537 with an OPS of .857. But if you subtract just one game where he went 4-for-4 out of the equation and he had a batting average of .222. Then, if you take out the three other games where he had two or more hits he batted .166 in 18 of his 22 games.
Does that sound like a player that deserves playing on a full-time basis? Does that performance warrant inserting him into the lineup over Josh Reddick? I’d like to see him have great success with the Astros as much as anyone, but I sure would like to see more consistency. His future here in Houston is going to ride heavily on his level of play this season, and starting out this spring going 0-for-12 certainly doesn’t help his case.