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Houston Astros promote top prospect Kyle Tucker

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2015 first-rounder arrives in majors

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

This morning the Houston Astros promoted outfield prospect Kyle Tucker to the major league roster. Here’s a quick review of who he is and what to watch for.

The Astros drafted Tucker in the first round in 2015 out of high school in Tampa, Florida. Drafted fifth overall, he is the younger brother of outfielder and former Astro Preston Tucker, currently playing in Triple-A for the Atlanta Braves system.

Kyle has risen rapidly up the ranks, hitting .285/.360/.438 between Low-A and High-A in 2016 then .274/.346/.528 between High-A and Double-A in 2017. He ranked second on the pre-season Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects list for 2018 published back in January with this comment:

2) Kyle Tucker, OF, Grade A-/A: Age 20, first round pick in 2015; hit combined .274/.346/.528 with 25 homers, 33 doubles, 21 steals, 46 walks, 109 strikeouts in 464 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; I doubt he’ll be a true stolen base threat at physical maturity but he could show even more power than he currently does; swing is a tad unconventional to the naked eye but it works; may go with a straight Grade A when all the lists are done and the rankings are complete, right now I like Forrest Whitley just a hair better because it is harder to find ace pitchers. ETA late 2018 or 2019

I moved Tucker ahead of Whitley and at 14th overall on the most recent Top 30 Prospects update back in May. I have been working on a revised list for the All-Star Break and Tucker will rank in the top ten now with a Grade A rating.

Kyle has been excellent in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League this year, hitting .306/.371/.520 with 24 doubles, 14 homers, 14 steals in 17 attempts, along with 36 walks and 70 strikeouts in 327 at-bats. He’s hit at home (.322/.386/.544) and on the road (.292/.360/.500); has hit both lefties (.306/.368/.597) and righties (.306/.372/.502) and has shown he can handle both fastballs and breaking stuff, showing steadily increasing power without loss of strike zone discipline.

Although not a pure burner Tucker runs reasonably well and has developed into a good percentage stealer, though game speed may decline a bit more as he matures. His arm is strong enough for right field. He played center field for much of 2017 but has split 2018 between left and right. He shows sufficient athleticism and instincts to be an above-average defender at either corner and is playable in center if you really need him there, though long-term the corners are his best option.

Ultimately the bat is the important thing and there isn’t much left for Tucker to learn in the PCL. He needs to play against major league pitching for the next challenge. Given his age, tools, and track record there’s every reason for optimism.

All-field power in this clip: