The Houston Astros tore into the Oakland A’s late in Wednesday’s game, after a dominant start by Zack Greinke. The right-hander tossed a quality start of one earned run across four hits over eight innings of work.
In rout to an 8-1 victory, the Astros got to the point of pinch hitting and making defensive replacements, as five hitters had two or more hits on Wednesday. Yuli Gurriel stood out the most, as the right-hander went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and a run.
The Astros have a good predicament on their hands, as Yuli Gurriel and Taylor Jones are slashing past potential.
While there hasn’t been All-Star talent at first base for the Astros since the days of Jeff Bagwell or Lance Berkman, Yuli Gurriel is finding his inner Albert Pujols and hitting to MVP numbers. The right-hander is currently slashing .338/.408/.576 with, a league-leading, 15 doubles.
Gurriel is currently on the final year of his deal with the Astros and wasn’t looking like an issue of being let go during next offseason, but at this point, the right-hander should be returning on a short-term deal. There is a team option in his contract for 2022, but after a dominant start, there must be some evaluations about how he will keep his numbers moving northward.
At 36-years-old, Gurriel is nearing the last chapter of his MLB career, and with that in mind, the Astros do have something brewing with Taylor Jones in Triple A. The right-hander has had his stints at the major league level in 2020 and 2021, but nothing too flashy came from Taylor.
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While with the Sugar Land Skeeters, who are finally making their way to the renovated Constellation Field, Jones is hitting at a .368/.489/.632 clip with two home runs in 38 at bats. The 27-year-old is on a ticking clock for the future of his minor league career, and with Gurriel continuing to stay hot, Jones will have to do the same.
Currently, there is no space for Jones on the roster, but in his 2021 spring training, the right-hander did test the waters at third base and a little outfield, while most prospects have added versatility. The right-hander could take a utility role next season or in 2021; depending on the state of Robel Garcia.
There are a few routes the Astros could take with the optionable first baseman, and unfortunately, one could be a trade. Although being one of the older minor league players, Jones has major league experience and is slashing well to start the Triple A season. While they shouldn’t dish him away in my opinion, he could help bring in outfield or pitching depth in late July.
This seems like a good predicament to have, but hopefully Jones can shadow Gurriel next season, if they both hit to potential all of 2021. The Astros are back on the field on Thursday at 2:37 p.m., while looking to win the series with Luis Garcia on the bump.