Kyle Tucker: Astros 2019 Minor League Player Of The Year
General manager Jeff Luhnow told teams as the trade deadline loomed that he would not part with 22-year-old Kyle Tucker, the tantalizing outfield prospect who now signifies the team’s immediate answer to a looming free agency crunch in the outfield.
Tucker’s development is now more important than ever. Luhnow traded away four prospects for Zack Greinke, while shipping the perpetually blocked Derek Fisher to the Blue Jays for three players.
Tucker survived the deadline and now sits as the top remaining prospect in Houston’s gutted farm system.
Though Tucker’s 2019 season has not approached the one he authored in 2018, he still is in a prime position to contend for a postseason roster spot once he’s summoned in September. He had mixed in work at first base, tried to hone his pregame preparation and performed like a top prospect is expected to perform.
"I’m impressed by how he just continues to go out there and compete and play well. He hasn’t had his agent call me, hasn’t been asking, ‘When am I getting called up?' " Luhnow said.
Soon, that won’t be an issue. Tucker is all but assured a callup in September and, with Josh Reddick’s continued offensive decline, could contend for a postseason roster spot if he performs.
Putting one good month together has been easy for Tucker. Describing his season with Triple-A Round Rock as "streaky" is an understatement. Through 120 games, the lanky corner outfielder slugged .555, totaled 32 home runs and 26 doubles, which were somewhat remarkable totals considering how horrid his April was.
He also stole 30 bases to become the fifth 30-30 player in Pacific Coast League history.
Tucker amassed just a .589 OPS in his first 23 games, and watched as Yordan Alvarez passed him on the way to Houston. If not for such an abysmal April, Tucker could already be in the major leagues.
Tucker hit 19 of his 32 home runs in May and June, eschewing what some thought was a pull-happy approach early in his season.
"His time will come,” Luhnow said. "Whether or not he puts himself in a position to be considered for the playoff roster, that’s kind of up to him.”
— The Astros released righthander Brady Rodgers, cutting ties with their 2016 minor league pitcher of the year. Rodgers threw just 13.1 innings in the major leagues and had Tommy John surgery in 2017.
— The Astros made two promotions that were noteworthy given their barren farm system. Righthander Cristian Javier and outfielder Ronnie Dawson both moved to Triple-A Round Rock in August. Javier struck out 114 in 74 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi and is among the organization's most promising pitching prospects, especially now with Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas gone. Dawson was the Astros’ second-round pick in 2016.