HOUSTON — Former Plant High standout Kyle Tucker was called up by the Astros from Triple-A Fresno.
The No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 draft started in leftfield and batted seventh Saturday in a 12-6 win against the White Sox. Tucker went 1-for-4, scored and had an RBI walk. His first hit, a single in the seventh inning, came after three strikeouts against veteran right-hander and former Ray James Shields, who fed him a steady diet of offspeed pitches.
At 21 years and 171 days, Tucker’s the youngest active player in the American League.
Kyle Tucker’s (@KTuck30) parents, Lisa and Mike, at Minute Maid Park for Kyle’s Major League debut. Mike: “We’re very proud of him. It’s elation.” Lisa: “Very special.” pic.twitter.com/fMITm1rmgE
“We’re very proud of him. It’s elation,” Mike Tucker, in attendance with his wife, Lisa, said of their son.
“We were rushing all night long to get here because we were out of state. We were outside with his first at-bat,” said Lisa; they got inside Minute Maid Park in the third inning.
“At least they missed my (first) strikeout,” Tucker said.
Tucker was told of his callup during the fourth inning of Friday night’s game in Fresno. He phoned his parents in Tampa and his brother Preston, the Houston Chronicle reported. The Astros optioned outfielder Jake Marisnick to Fresno in a corresponding move.
“It was awesome,” Tucker said after his debut. “I had a lot of fun tonight and came up with a win so that makes it even better. Just being in the big leagues was awesome and being around, especially this team, they have so much fun.”
Kyle Tucker (@KTuck30) on getting his first Big League hit: “That was awesome..It was kind of a relief to put a ball forward.” Amazed by #Astros fans at Minute Maid Park: “The noise in the stadium was erupting.” pic.twitter.com/vILOaYmgnv
“Our team got better by adding him,” said manager A.J. Hinch, noting the plan is for Tucker to play on a daily basis in left or right.
Tucker said he was glad to put the three strikeouts behind him with the two-out, line-drive single to right off White Sox reliever Bruce Rondon.
“I mean it was kind of a relief to put a ball forward, especially after those first three strikeouts,” he said. “But you’re going to strike out at times, you’re going to have some bad ABs, bad games and you just have to grind through that and move on to the next AB.”
Hinch noted that the 39,568 in attendance were all behind Tucker, even after he fouled one off.
“That’s about as loud a cheer for even a foul ball that I’ve heard,” Hinch said.
“He handled the day well. He’ll sleep well tonight.”
Houston Astros Kyle Tucker preps for batting practice at Minute Maid Park before the Astros take on Chicago White Soxon Saturday, July 7, 2018 in Houston. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle) The prospect was called up from AAA Fresno. less
Houston Astros Kyle Tucker preps for batting practice at Minute Maid Park before the Astros take on Chicago White Soxon Saturday, July 7, 2018 in Houston. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle) The prospect was … more
Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle
Houston Astros second baseman Tony Kemp (18) steals second base in the bottom of the ninth inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 in Houston. Astros won the game 7-6 with a two-run walk off home run. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle)
Houston Astros second baseman Tony Kemp (18) steals second base in the bottom of the ninth inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 in Houston. Astros won the game 7-6
Houston Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick slides across the plate as he scores on an RBI single by Alex Bregman during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in a major league baseball game at Minute Maid Park on Monday, June 25, 2018, in Houston. less
Houston Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick slides across the plate as he scores on an RBI single by Alex Bregman during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in a major league baseball game at … more
Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle
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.”
The Hooks become the Raspas as part of a busy Independence Day week of festivities at Whataburger Field. Wochit
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros have called up top prospect Kyle Tucker from Triple-A Fresno, and Astros fans could not be happier.
Tucker, who spent the 2017 season with the Hooks, was slated to play left field in Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox and batting seventh.
Houston manager AJ Hinch says “our team got better by adding him to the mix” and he plans to play Tucker every day, in left field or right field. Hinch says as the season gets into its latter stages the team needs to see what Tucker can do after his strong showing in both spring ball and the minor leagues.
Tucker is ranked the No. 8 prospect in baseball by MLB.com. He’s batting .306 with 24 doubles, 14 home runs and 66 RBIs for Fresno and was named to the Pacific Coast League All Star team.
Tucker was a non-roster invitee to spring training this year and was 18-for-44 batting with five home runs and 21 RBIs.
The Astros optioned outfielder Jake Marisnick to Fresno in a corresponding move.
Meanwhile, beginning Saturday morning, Astros fans across social media reacted to news they have been wanting to hear for weeks.