Kyle Tucker’s promotion says a lot about Tony Kemp
Updated: July 7, 2018 4:09pm
Kyle Tucker’s promotion on Saturday momentarily ended the frustration Astros fans felt with Jake Marisnick and his miserable offensive season.
But, in reality, it illustrated more about Tony Kemp’s impact since arriving to the major league club.
The assumption among most onlookers was that Marisnick blocked Tucker’s path to the major leagues. Reading Saturday’s transaction for face value lends credence to the thought — one that, even with Marisnick’s demotion, is still untrue.
“When a transaction happens, we talk a lot about the guy we sent down,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “But there are some guys that we kept that earned the right to be here.”
Kemp was recalled on May 16 — after Marisnick was optioned to Class AAA for the first time — as the Astros’ first performance-based roster move of the season.
Hinch has spoken often of Kemp’s difficult professional career, one filled with brief major league stints and often no discernible role on an established roster.
He’s started 31 of the 40 games since he was recalled. From the nine-hole, he has the team’s second-highest on-base percentage.
His .342 batting average and .385 OBP leads all major league nine-hole hitters, numbers that in no way warrant a demotion back to the minor leagues.
“It didn’t affect when we were going to call up Kyle Tucker, but it did affect the move we were going to make to clear space for him,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said of Kemp’s performance. “Tony has come up and played well.”
After Tucker arrived on Saturday morning, Hinch met with Kemp to discuss his role moving forward. Kemp’s time will be more “spread out,” Hinch acknowledged, and he will play more in center field.
“There’s a role for him on this team,” Hinch said. “And (I told him) not to get overwhelmed by the Kyle Tucker getting called up and the assumption that he’s not going to play.”
For Marisnick, the demotion arrives as his offensive anemia was improving. When he was sent down on May 16, he had 41 strikeouts in 85 at-bats.
In his last 41 plate appearances, Marisnick had a 1.043 OPS and 11 strikeouts. His defense is still elite and value to the team still very apparent. He stole an extra-base hit in Friday night’s game against the White Sox with a tremendous diving catch.
One hour later, he was optioned.
“The first go around (to Class AAA) he was really needing to go correct some things,” Hinch said. “The second go around, he was doing a lot better and things were out of his control a little bit as far as him going down to Triple-A. There’s still some offensive adjustments we want him to make, but it’s very fitting that he makes an incredibly good diving catch on the day we know we’re going to send him down.”