by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After struggling in the Majors (.156 with 0 HR and 1 SB over 45 AB) it would’ve been easy for the Astros’ Kyle Tucker to slump upon being demoted to Triple-A. He understandably could’ve been disappointed, having hoped that he’d never be returning back in the minor leagues. However he’s done just the opposite, posting three multi-hit games in his first five (7-22 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R and 2 SB) since his demotion. It gives a sense of hope that he can recover and return with a vengeance, though that’s not to say that the production hasn’t come without it’s questions.
He’s already struck out 7 times, compared to just 2 walks. That has always been a risk, as he owns a 12.4% SwStr% at Triple-A this season though just a 19.4% strikeout rate. It’s something to watch, because entering the season that was the biggest concern hanging over him after posting a 13.2% SwStr% between High-A and Double-A a year ago.
Tucker did show an ability to stay inside the strike zone during his time in the Majors with a 26.2% O-Swing%, and he also hit the ball hard (37.1% Hard%) and didn’t take a fly ball heavy approach (34.3%). Those are both promising and tells you that his .200 BABIP was the problem, and one that you’d expect to improve if given the chance.
The biggest “problem” was coming against breaking balls (Whiff%):
- Hard – 9.84%
- Offspeed – 12.00%
- Breaking – 24.49%
All it takes is a little improvement, and something that may just need a little more experience to fix. Of course even without any further improvement there’s a lot to like. There was never a question about his power and speed, and as we said prior to the season even at this pace he should be a highly productive option:
Splitting time between High-A and Double-A Tucker hit .274 with 25 HR and 21 SB. He backed up the power with 33 doubles and 5 triples, showing that there’s potentially more upside (he could pop a 30 HR season at any time) and there’s little reason to think that the speed will completely disappear. Maybe he doesn’t steal 20+ bases annually, but he has 10+ SB potential.
There is a bit of swing and miss to his game, with a 13.2% SwStr% overall last season. He improved the mark upon reaching Double-A though, at 12.6%, which is extremely promising and led to a 20.1% strikeout rate. That shows the potential to improve, and even if he simply keeps it in the 25-26% range when coupled with his power and speed there’s no reason to think he won’t post a solid average (in other words, there isn’t the risk of a sub-.250 hitter).
In other words he should get another opportunity and when it comes there should be success in his future. Don’t downgrade him off of the poor run, because there are better days ahead.
Current Grade – A
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Midseason Rankings: