As I watched Preston Tucker‘s third hit of the night clear the left field wall Sunday afternoon, I marveled at how good he is. For a guy who has only played in 57 games, he’s got a .754 OPS, 23 RBIs, 6 long balls and has managed to strike out just 42 times in 189 ABs.
Yep, Tucker looks like the real deal. Most seasons, we’d be calling him our Rookie of the Year candidate, clamoring for him to play daily (though many of us do this anyway), and we’d be wishing the farm system had another one just like him.
Yeah, I’m so over Preston “Weak Tea” Tucker.
Just kidding. But seriously, most year’s we’d have been thrilled to get a quality rookie like Tucker. Now, he’s just another young, fresh face in the crowd.
“Have You Met Carlos?”
If you thought Tucker was impressive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Sunday afternoon, uber rookie Carlos Correa doubled, singled, walked twice and scored three runs. The Pride of Puerto Rico raised his OPS to .862 in a season where he’s whiffed a mere 30 times (or as Chris Carter calls that, “last week”) in 145 ABs. His WAR at 1.6 thus far dwarfs Tucker’s lousy (tongue firmly in cheek) 0.3 WAR.
Best of all, Correa is doing this while playing an often dazzling shortstop and being the kind of leader we kept hearing about when he was in the minors. He’s obviously our best rookie, right? Right?
I Like Lance … A Lot
All this rookie love (my nickname in high school) isn’t just limited to the sluggers. Lance McCullers Jr. has been nothing but ace material on the mound. For the record, this will probably be the second year Houston has a legit Rookie of the Year candidate in the rotation.
McCullers is 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA — more than sustainable considering his 2.56 FIP, 1.104 WHIP and amazing 9.9 K/9. The only limit for McCullers (this year) will be how many innings Luhnow and the Brain Trust think he can handle. Oh, and he’s already earned a 1.6 WAR this season, tying Correa for the team rookie lead.
So, other than their rookie status, what do these three have in common? Well, there’s the fact all three came from that monumental 2012 draft. All three have played together on teams that eventually won championships in the minor leagues. And the trio ranges from solid MLB contributors (Tucker) to potential All-Stars (McCullers) or better (Correa).
And that’s just part of this year’s rookie crop. Domingo Santana was not quite ripe last year, so they plucked him this season and, in limited action, he is sporting a .771 OPS. Vincent Velasquez is 0-1, but has a 0.3 WAR, a 3.94 ERA and, in his six starts, has been the starting pitcher for three team wins and two hard-luck losses.
Things That Make You Go, Hmm
First, when Luhnow has a good draft, he really wins big. Which reminds me, wasn’t this year supposedly a good draft?
Second, when was the last time someone misspelled Luhnow’s name as Luhn-hole?
Third, with so many great rookies, has Tucker’s performance been lost in the shuffle?
Fourth, with so many quality promotions, is the cupboard bare? Remember, most of us at the start of the season thought the only call-up that might — MIGHT — pay big dividends would be Santana or Appel. Santana would rebound, the thinking went, and Appel had just finished strong at AA then put it all together in the Arizona Fall League. Correa was coming off a major injury, and had only played half a season at misleading Lancaster. Most of our better talent was still a year away. No one was clamoring for McCullers. Tucker wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Correa was a pipe dream in need of some more seasoning. (Ah, to be that young and naive again …)
Fifth, has anyone seen our old friend Bopert recently? I mean I haven’t seen anyone calling Jim Crane a war profiteer in months.
Sixth, so back to that thought on “Fourth,” what player in the minors right now do you think will be that surprise contributor in 2016 … or late 2015? Conrad Gregor? Colin Moran? Brett Phillips? Chris Devenski? Michael Feliz (who already made one brief appearance in Houston)?
Seventh, is this what a sustainable dynasty looks like?
Eighth, who is your Rookie of the Year? Not just in Houston, but in the American League?