Outfielder Kyle Tucker heard from older, pro-playing brother Preston after hitting just nine home runs last season at low Class A Quad Cities and high Class A Lancaster.
The touted 20-year-old Kyle, who bats lefthanded, shouldn’t be subject to any more brotherly ribbing in the future, at least as it pertains to his power numbers.
After an offseason in which the Tampa prep product added about 15-20 pounds to his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, Tucker began tapping into the power potential the Astros believed was present when they drafted him fifth overall in 2015.
In one early May weekend in Myrtle Beach he launched four homers in two games.
Tucker should shatter the career high in home runs he set last season by the all-star break, regardless if he’s still at high Class A Buies Creek or has by then reached Double-A Corpus Christi.
In addition to getting stronger, Tucker worked to stop top-spinning the ball. His swing now stays long through the hitting zone, and this season he had been able to back-spin more balls. He hit .317/.405/.626 with eight homers through 38 games.
Tucker hit three of his nine homers last season in just 16 games at Lancaster to end the season. Apparently, that was the beginning of the power surge that continued this season.
“At the end of the year last year in Lancaster, he started really hitting the ball hard,” farm director Pete Putila said, “and you could see from his exit speeds that he was really putting a charge to the ball.”
“I think most of that was just lost in the fact that he was playing in Lancaster. Whenever anyone sees power numbers from (hitter-friendly) Lancaster, they just assume it’s altitude and wind.
“But he actually really started hitting the ball hard there at the end of 2016, so he’s just kind of continuing that from last year.”
— Jake Kaplan covers the Astros for the Houston Chronicle