Houston Astros: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (Vol 4)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Carlos Correa, Luis Garcia, Houston Astros
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Who’s Hot

Carlos Correa

The last trend piece talked about Carlos Correa’s recent slump, but it was noted that he seemed primed to break out of it. Well, here we are, and now, Correa is raking again.

Correa has been batting .318 over his last 15 games with an 1.133 OPS to go along with four home runs, 10 RBI and a 13-to-8 walk to strikeout ratio. This hot streak is highlighted by some big bombs against the Dodgers, some huge 105 MPH exit velocity hits versus the Red Sox, and a two-homer night this last Friday up in Buffalo. He’s seeing the ball perfectly at the moment and crushing them at every bat.

Last year was rough for Correa, as he saw drop offs an average in power at the plate. A lot of this was predicated on his inability to hit any breaking balls or off-speed pitches, but he seemed to find his swing during last year’s playoffs and (after a somewhat slow start this year) has continued to rake and is on a steady upward trajectory with production. Correa is now hitting .303 on breaking pitches opposed to .250 last season – he’s also now hitting .226 on off-speed pitches, which is much improved from his abysmal numbers against those pitches last season ( .093 BA).

With Correa now tucked in between Altuve and Bregman in the batting order, Houston seems to have, once again, have the best top-of-the order-batting lineup in all baseball.

Oh, and message to James Click:  Sign Correa long term

Luis Garcia

The 24-year-old right-hander from Venezuela was an unknown commodity in the Astros’ farm system this time last year. Garcia had only spent most of his time in Single-A and Double-A ball , so it took everyone by surprise when Garcia got his first major league call up last year. But Garcia proved early to be a very solid option in the regular season, and later was terrific when he given innings to pitch during the postseason.

And the way he’s been patient so far this year, Garcia might be (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) in line for an All-Star appearance. Yeah – he’s been that good.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

In his last three appearances Luis Garcia is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA , a 0.79 WHIP , a .164 opponent batting average and a 21-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio. And this isn’t just some hot streak. For the season Luis Garcia is 5-3 with a 2.75 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 68 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched. He is currently 5th in the AL in ERA, behind Kyle Gibson, Garrett Cole, John Means, and Tyler Glasnow (ahead of guys like Rich Hill, Cy Young winner Shane Bieber, #1 draft pick Casey Mize and Zach Greinke). He is also 3rd in opponent batting average (.189) – ahead of everyone except for Tyler Glasnow and John Means. The kid is an elite company.

Garcia’s pitch profile is centered around deception. His primary pitch is his four-seam fastball, which he throws nearly 49% of the time. This pitch hangs in the low 90s, with excellent placement and generates about 2300 revolutions per minute (RPMs). But what makes Garcia really special is his ability to get ahead of the count with that fastball, and then get hitters out with his cutter and slider. Garcia’s cutter (19% usage) generates an astonishing 49% whiff percentage, whereas his slider (15% usage) generates a 42% whiff rate. What’s impressive is both those pitches hang around the same RPM levels as his four-seam fastball which, along with his pitch delivery and elite placement, makes it very hard for hitters to anticipate what pitch is coming.

Between Garcia and Framber Valdez, the Astros have done a terrific job above identifying young international prospects with the potential to be elite aces. I hope Garcia gets a chance to pitch in the All-Star game and continue his growth trajectory as an elite pitcher.