Houston's lengthy rebuilding plan has taken a huge step in the right direction as the team currently holds a five-game lead in the AL West at 20-12. The extended plan hit another big milestone Thursday when Preston Tucker was called up to the big leagues following a concussion sustained by George Springer. The milestone: Tucker is the first draft pick under general manager Jeff Luhnow's regime to reach the majors.
Tucker's MLB debut was a memorable one as he laced a base hit through the right side to tie up Thursday's game at 2-2 in ninth inning -- a game Houston went on to win 3-2. Tucker was raking to say the least at AAA Fresno with a 1.028 OPS with 10 homers and a professional baseball-high 32 RBI at the time of his promotion. Luckily for Houston, Tucker is one of many talented players currently developing. Like any other organization, there are a handful of players in the minors that have major league experience -- Jon Singleton, Domingo Santana, Max Stassi just to name a few.
But today, we look at those who haven't played under the bright lights just yet. Today's question:
Which Astros farmhand will be next to make his MLB debut?
Since we are talking about MLB debut, that rules out Domingo Santana, Jon Singleton, and LJ Hoes. On the AAA roster, that leaves Andrew Aplin and Nolan Fontana as the two guys most likely to make their debuts this year. However, these 2 are not on the 40-man roster and are a bit crunched by the number of other call up candidates at the same position. So, I do not see them as likely to get the call anytime soon. Neither are destroying AAA like Tucker. On the pitching side of things, I see a similar situation. Oberholtzer and Peacock are guys that are in line to get a shot at the 5th spot in the rotation soon. Thatcher has struggled out of the pen against LHBs, but he's due some positive regression. Tommy Shirley could be another left handed arm to put in the bullpen if the front office decides to part ways with Joe Thatcher, but I do not see that happening anytime soon.
That leaves me with the obvious choice, Carlos Correa. The 40 man roster crunch that this front office is dealing with is a good thing. The only guy that plays a position of need and has the talent to force the front office to call him up is this guy. If he can continue to show "mastery" at AAA when he is promoted in the next week, that would have him getting the call sometime in June. This would give him an opportunity to show he's the man at short stop before Jed Lowrie returns from the DL.
Okay, here's a shot for you; how about James Hoyt? The bullpen has been good so far, but how long until someone isn't doing well? Until there's an injury? It's a long season yet to go.
I know what you're saying; "Brian, Hoyt has a 9.82 ERA, are you nuts?" Yes, yes I am, but not about this. It's SSS noise. He has a .463 BAbip working against him; his FIP is 3.02, in fact. He's still striking people out. He hasn't allowed a homer yet. Don't worry about Hoyt, he's fine. I'm also tempted to say Luis Cruz, who has been very solid (April 18 blowup notwithstanding), is on the 40-man and they probably want to take a look at him to see if they want to keep protecting him with one of those coveted spots. But ultimately he's probably a September call-up, and I bet that, for whatever reason or combination of reasons, we need a reliever before then at some point.
Now it could be a while. A month? Two? Yeah, it could be a while. Which also says I no longer believe Correa will be up prior to September, if then, as much as that pains me. Lowrie should be back around mid-July, which is only about two months away. Unless they get desperate (this front office? don't hold your breath), I can't see him coming up prior to the end of the season for Fresno.
Not to just take Seth's answer and run with it, but it's obviously Correa.
You don't think the Astros would do that? You say their prospect developmental timeline doesn't fit that?
Well, that timeline certainly didn't have them promoting Correa to Triple-A two weeks into May, but that seems to be on its way, based on what Jeff Luhnow has told the media this week.
How long does Correa need in Triple-A? He will have around 150 plate appearances in Double-A. Maybe that much.
Give him until mid-June. That gets him past the Super 2 deadline and lets Houston know more about Jed Lowrie's injury. If he's not progressing and Correa is still hitting, he'll be in the majors.
Will there be another prospect called up before then? The only way I see another guy making it first is in the event of an injury. Even then, the pickings are slim. If a catcher gets hurt, Stassi goes up. If Carter/Gattis get hurt, Singleton goes up. If a corner outfielder goes down, Santana goes up. If Marisnick/Rasmus get hurt in center, Presley goes up.
Correa is the most likely choice. He'll be up before you know it.