Every year, there is one Astros hitting prospect whose call-up and major league debut is highly anticipated. In 2014, it was George Springer. In 2015, it was Carlos Correa. The following year, Alex Bregman made his way to Houston. Derek Fisher was the touted call-up of 2017. Last year, July 7 was “Ted day”, marking the debut of Kyle Tucker.
Yordan Alvarez is doing everything he can in Round Rock to ensure that 2019 belongs to him.
In 17 games, Alvarez is batting .339, with an astounding slugging percentage of .915, and an OPS of 1.366. He has 10 home runs and 26 RBI’s. He has as many walks (11) as strikeouts. He is Will Ferrell in Elf, dominating in the North Pole basketball elves league.
With each seemingly daily home run, calls for Yordan to bring his bat up to Minute Maid Park grow louder. Jeff Luhnow stands at his office window peering down at the demonstrating masses, listening to their call and response chant:
“WHO DO WE WANT?”
“WHEN DO WE WANT HIM?”
Is now the time for Alvarez to join the big team? The decision is not as easy as just calling up a player and sending another down. Who leaves the 25-man roster to make room for Yordan? It would not be a pitcher. The Astros are already have 13 position players, and are working with a 7-man bullpen .
There are two position players who have options remaining. Utility player Almedys Diaz has one, but he was brought on as a utility player to play multiple infield positions as well as some outfield, a role altogether different than the one Alvarez would play. Fourth outfielder Jake Marisnick also has one left (at least for a couple more weeks), but he has added production at the plate to his already great defense, so it is safe to say Jake’s spot is not in jeopardy.
If Alvarez is brought up, it would likely be at the expense of DH/LF Tony Kemp or DH/1B Tyler White. Both are out of options, so they would need to be designated for assignment. Both players would have a high likelihood of being scooped up by another team.
Yordan Alvarez, right now, would cost the Astros one of these two players. Not an easy decision. But with every home run Yordan hits in the PCL, the decision to pull the trigger seems less difficult.
The Case for Designating Kemp for Alvarez - As a one for one replacement, Yordan seems like a more natural replacement for Kemp. They are both left-handed hitters. They both play left field. Kemp also has made some starts at centerfield, but is not the most effective option in center. Kemp is slashing a paltry .156/.270/.250 with an OPS+ of 43. Although he hits the occasional home run that just clears the fence, he is not a power threat. A below average defender, his best asset is his ability to get on base, and he has not been doing that.
The Case for Designating White for Alvarez – Although Alvarez plays left field, his outfield defense is not stellar, leading some to believe he projects as a first baseman/designated hitter. That is White’s role on the team, exactly. Although Kemp is a below average defender, he is still used in the field more than White. White has only garnered two starts at first base, the same number as Almedys Diaz, who prior to this season, had zero major league first base experience. With Josh Reddick being trained at first base as well (and even logging an inning this year), White’s experience playing first base is not as vital as it was before the season started. White is slashing .212/.333/.242 with an OPS+ of 61, and remains the only position player on the roster without a home run this year. (Update: A 2 for 3 game with a walk last night against the Twins dramatically pushed up his line to .257/.395/.314 with an OPS+ of 98. A testament to reserving judgment on small sample sizes.)
The Case for Waiting – The Astros are 13-9, and are still projected to win the division comfortably. With the top and middle of the order hitting well, offensive production is still there, even with Kemp and White underperforming at the bottom of the order. Yordan Alvarez’ time will come, but the Astros don’t need it to be now and risk losing Kemp or White. Both were productive players last year, and it is too early to say they may not still be productive this year. Both players have less than 50 plate appearances so far this season. The season is long and injuries will happen, where a player will need to be called up from Round Rock. There is no rush, so why not let it happen when it happens?
When to call up Alvarez has become a hot topic within the TCB community (“the TCB”? Is that right? That seems like saying “PIN number”). Share your opinion in the poll below and within the comments.
Is it time to call up Yordan Alvarez?
This poll is closed
Yes. DFA Tony Kemp and call him up.
Yes. DFA Tyler White and call him up.