The Houston Astros need to get rookie Taylor Jones as many at-bats as possible.
Brace yourselves, Houston fans — the Astros offense could be pretty ugly for the next several days, at least if Tuesday’s game is any indication. Not only are they missing Michael Brantley, but they’ve also placed Yordan Alvarez on the Injured List and called up rookie Taylor Jones. George Springer is still dealing with a wrist issue as well.
Alvarez and Brantley were getting nearly all of the DH at-bats, so the spot is currently wide open. Manager Dusty Baker could continue giving those at-bats to Abraham Toro, but he might be better off putting himself in the lineup. Letting Zack Greinke DH might actually be the most effective option right now.
Toro is hitting .118, Jack Mayfield is hitting .143 and Myles Straw is at .167. Plenty of regulars are struggling too — Jose Altuve is down to .168, Kyle Tucker is at .193 and Springer is at an even .200. This lineup is struggling to score runs, and that looks likely to continue for a bit. So why not get a good look at Jones?
See the Future
Jones only has two at-bats at the major league level, but he’s shown he’s ready for a shot. A 19th round pick in 2016, he has ascended to a No. 25 ranking on the team’s top prospects list after showing continuous improvement in the minors. The 6’7″ righthander is already viewed as a quality defender at first base and is capable of playing the corner outfield and third base.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
He spent all of 2019 at Triple-A and hit .291/.388/.501 with 28 doubles, 22 homers and 84 RBIs. At 26 years old, there’s no point in keeping him down any longer. He’s done all he can do in the minors, so it’s time to see if he’ll sink or swim in the majors. With Alvarez and Brantley both out, now is as good a time as any.
It’s especially important for the front office to know what it has in Jones because it could affect the offseason plans. As I wrote recently, the team might not want to outbid other suitors for Yuli Gurriel because it’ll have greater needs in the outfield and on the pitching staff. If Jones is ready for an everyday job, it means there’s a ready-made replacement already on hand.
We won’t know that for certain until we see him face major league pitching, however, and two at-bats just won’t cut it. He can’t be any worse than some of the other players in the lineup have been, so there’s really nothing to lose here. Get him in the lineup every day and see what he can do.