I attended the first two games of the three-game series between the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners here in Seattle. The games certainly didn’t lack in the excitement department with lots of home runs and shenanigans.
However, the big news came before game two. Just mere hours before the game started, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, announced a trade between the Astros and Mariners. Teams trading players mid-series is one thing I’ve never personally experienced as a fan attending games. The trade fills the Astros’ desperate need for a high-leverage bullpen arm in adding Kendall Graveman.
However, we are here to talk about Abraham Toro, who was acquired by Seattle from Houston in the trade.
While it is not particularly uncommon for players to be traded mid-series, it was certainly uncommon that in the first game a player hits a home run. Then, subsequently, hits a home run the next night for the other team he was traded to. In fact, so uncommon that it had never been done in MLB history.
I believe this made it a harder pill to swallow for Astros fans. Obviously, the stars like Altuve, Correa, Verlander, etc get their love and adoration. However, it’s the scrappy bench guys with humble backgrounds that tend to win the hearts of fans.
That is especially the case with Abraham Toro, based on the numerous tweets and messages indicating as such. While the Astros are significantly better with the acquisition of Graveman. It just wouldn’t be right to not do a little send off for Abraham Toro.
Hailing from Canada and playing his junior college ball in Oklahoma, Abraham Toro was drafted by the Astros in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft. Shortly thereafter, Toro signed with the Astros and was assigned to the Greeneville Astros, a former Appalachian League affiliate of the Astros.
After a fairly mediocre career in the minor leagues, Toro broke out in 2019, hitting .324 with 31 doubles and 17 home runs in 114 games between AA and AAA ball, according to Baseball Reference.
Obvious to most, Toro had the skills and tools to play at the major league level. Offensively, Toro was definitely viewed as an asset. The switch-hitting Toro had a great eye for hard contact with tons of patience at the plate. While Toro was athletic and knowledgeable enough to play all the infield positions, he was stuck behind a wall of superstar infielders that included Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.
That didn’t stop Abraham Toro from getting his eventual call-up to the big league team in Houston. On August 22, 2019, the Astros promoted Toro to the major leagues. His debut against the Detroit Tigers didn’t go as planned, playing third base and going hitless in the contest. However, it was the eighth start of his career that will live in the hearts of Astros fans forever.
Playing in his home country of Canada, Abraham Toro batted sixth and played third-base against the Toronto Blue Jays that September afternoon in 2019. That same afternoon, Justin Verlander navigated through the game, allowing no hits through the eighth inning.
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Enter Abraham Toro, who in the top of the ninth inning, hit a two-out, two-run home run off Jays’ closer Ken Giles to break the 0–0 tie. In the bottom of the ninth, Toro sealed the deal by cleanly fielding the final out of the game, thus completing Justin Verlander’s third no-hitter.
Since then, Toro has had his struggles like many players at his experience level does. However, it has been his most recent visit to the major league Astros in 2021 where he’s been able to really showcase the aforementioned skills. He’s proving to be a valuable bat off the bench with the absence of Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz due to injury and the unreliability of Robel García. Over 122 at bats with the Astros, Toro batted .211 with six home runs and 20 runs-batted-in.
The Seattle Mariners are quite possibly fielding the worst offense in baseball right now with six players hitting at or below and .219 batting average. I don’t follow the Mariners down to every minute detail. However, in my opinion, Toro provides an instant upgrade at first and second base, allowing Ty France slide into the DH role. This is simply based on the eye test of watching this team several times this season, a few of the games in person.
It was certainly a bittersweet moment for Astros fans as Abraham Toro that two-run shot off Ryan Pressly last night. I think I can speak for Houston fans in saying thank you for all the hustle and work you put in for the Astros. Good luck on the Mariners, Abraham; just not against your old team.
Toro capped off his first series on the opposing team with a one-for-four day with a home run. The Astros took the series with an 11-4 victory; they are back in action on Friday at 8:45 p.m. in San Francisco with Framber Valdez countering right-hander Kevin Guasman.