One of the most unusual things on display around this blog has been the very split judgments on the future of young prospect Kyle Tucker. Some folks are high on him and some folks do not hold high expectations for him at all. This is not taking a shot at anyone questioning whether he will become a solid major leaguer or a flop. It is just an observation that shows folks are more divided on him than most of the youngsters that have come to town lately.
Why is that?
There are two obvious reasons why there may be some negative thoughts here. First, there is the knowledge that the club has been adamant about not trading Tucker or another top prospect Forrest Whitley. It is easy to picture that the Astros might have been able to reel in some top-notch talent (can you say Christian Yelich?) if Tucker could have been packaged with another prospect or two.
Second, after so much hype about the young man, the first view most fans had of him was a disastrous call-up in 2018, where his slash line was a miserable .141 BA/ .236 OBP/ .439 OPS with no HRs and 4 RBIs in 64 ABs. He looked lost at the plate and not like the top 10 (in the majors) prospect that he was considered.
Beyond that his numbers in the minors were not that amazing as he compiled a solid, but not eye-opening slash of .283 BA/ .356OBP/ .863 OPS. His long looping swing looked like it might have too many holes in it. And perhaps for some, the failure of his brother Preston to be a solid major leaguer with the Astros lingered in the backs of their minds.
But are there reasons to be optimistic? Sure…
- Kyle joined the minor league system as an 18-year-old. The numbers he put up in the minors were as a player who was between 2 and 5 years younger than the average players at each level at which he played.
- His second shot at the majors in 2019 was so much better than his first exposure to the Bigs. His slash this time around was .269 BA/ .319 OBP/ .857 OPS. In only 67 ABs he scored 15 runs, hit 4 HRs, knocked in 11 runs, stole 5 bases and put up 0.8 WAR. On a small sample, this could be projected out to a 30/30 season.
- Additionally, he was only 22 years old when he put up these numbers in 2019. At a similar age, George Springer was still at AA (though perhaps he should not have been). Alex Bregman at 22 y.o. in his rookie season put up a similar slash of .264/.313/.791. And Jose Altuve at 22 y.o. in his second season had a slash of .290/.340/.740.
- Even in his first call-up a couple numbers in his favor standout. He struck out only 18% of the time, which is a decent number. Also, he had a .176 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) which means he was not very lucky in his first time in the majors. Interestingly, he struck out at a 27% rate in his second time around, but showed a lot more power and hit a lot more line drives.
Bottom line – this COVID mess has prevented us all from seeing more of this young man whose performance will be critical to a team with 3 outfielders possibly leaving after 2020.
Your turn – what do you expect from young Kyle Tucker, if and when he gets another shot with your favorite team?