If Astros fans know anything about the current team, they know that size is not all that important in some cases. In a vacuum it's great. But overlooking a player because of size means you ignore a player's talent. The Astros second baseman, Jose Altuve, encompasses that more than anyone in recent history. Yet, the farm has another in the same mold who is attempting to add weight in the fight against....size-ism?
Tony Kemp was drafted just last season in the fifth round out of Vanderbilt and is listed at 5'6", 165 pounds. Yep, very similar to Altuve. That said, I don't want to compare Kemp with Altuve. While they have their similarities, they also have their differences which make them quite different at the plate.
Kemp a spark plug at the top of the Hooks lineup this season. With a batting line of .292/.381/.425 he provided a consistent base runner for the middle of the order.
What he provides is a true on-base percentage skill. He has a very high contact rate at 88.6% this season (Altuve had 88.0% in Corpus). He boasted a 10.2% BB%. He knows the strike zone. He makes contact. All good recipes to be a successful hitter and a menace to pitchers. The difference between him and Altuve is Kemp is much better with drawing walks (at the same level) but doesn't spray as many line drives which was 17.8% this season. Also keep in mind that Kemp is 22 and Altuve was 21 when he was in AA.
Speed kills. And Kemp has some. He stole 40 bases this year but only 13 came in AA and with a slightly lower success rate (68.4%). So, he wasn't quite the threat he was in the lower levels, but there are some skills there. That speed along with being a scrappy all out all the time player makes him a pretty good defensive player. He was even trotted out to LF this season which might make for an interesting experiment down the road with Altuve being a long-term block at second base.
I wrote upon being drafted that Kemp had some similarities to Altuve and was a fan favorite for Vanderbilt. He has a lot of the intangibles that fans love and make him a larger asset (pun intended) than numbers project. I hate to label him a utility guy because of size. But, he doesn't project to be a great base stealer or power guy. He also doesn't have the range for short-stop. So his future is likely limited to second base or maybe left field. And with all these shifts, maybe he could fill in at other infield spots in a pinch.