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Patrick Creighton: Kyle Tucker will be an Astro soon

Patrick Creighton: Kyle Tucker will be an Astro soon
Kyle Tucker should be back in an Astros uniform soon. Rich Schultz

A big groan just came over the crowd the Minute Maid Park.  Kyle Tucker had just slashed a two-seamer down the left field line that just missed staying fair. On the first pitch he saw, he came a foot from giving the Astros the lead.

Back to the box, the Astros top hitting prospect tried again.  Down 0-1, he got a curve, and he annihilated it.

The second pitch Kyle Tucker saw, he deposited 335 feet into the right field seats for a grand slam that send the announced crowd of 20,276 into exaltation.

It was the only at bat Tucker would get on Monday night, and it wasn’t the biggest bright spot of his spring training, just the cherry on top of a torrid spring where he is currently hitting a ridiculous .439 with 5 HR and 21 RBI in merely 41 AB.  The 21 RBI lead all of baseball this spring. He’s scored 13 runs, and posted a video game style 1.345 OPS. His bat has spoken loud and clear to Jeff Luhnow and the Astros:

“I’ll be back.”

(Did you read that in your Arnold voice?  Did you just re-read it in your Arnold voice?  Of course you did).

Tucker has served notice to the big league team that he is ready to go.  He has also served notice directly to Derek Fisher that if Fisher doesn’t hit, he’s going to sit, because Kyle is coming for that job.

The Astros have a history of being patient with their call ups.  Under the current administration, Houston has been very wary of Super 2 deadlines, and waiting to call a player up until after they feel it’s safe that the player will not achieve Super 2 status.  That is likely the only reason we will have to wait until mid-June or later to see Tucker in an Astros uniform, barring major injury. While a September call-up may have been the plan before spring started, his performance has clearly accelerated that timetable.

What Tucker is done is exactly why I wrote back on Feb. 12 that there was no chance Tucker was being traded (certainly not for J.T. Realmuto!).  Jeff Luhnow knew exactly what he has in Tucker, which is a franchise caliber corner outfielder. Luhnow exercised the same strategy in how he approached teams asking for Tucker as he did last season when teams asked for Alex Bregman in trade – by telling GMs they had no chance.

Last season Luhnow made it a point that no matter what, Bregman would be an Astro.  Tucker will also be an Astro, and after this spring, much sooner than later.

The Astros are an embarrassment of riches offensively, and Tucker is a pile of gold being kept in the safe until needed.

Kyle Tucker knew March 18 he wasn’t making the Opening Day roster.  If he continues to rake at Triple-A even close to the way he has in Spring Training, he could very well be in the starting lineup by the All Star Break.

The “Fresno Watch”’ will be underway very quickly this season.

See you soon, Kyle.

Patrick Creighton hosts “Nate & Creight” Mon-Fri 1-3p on SportsMap 94.1FM, and “Sports & Shenanigans” Sundays 12-5p CT on SB Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

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Yordan Alvarez is hitting fifth for the American League. Composite Getty Image.

Baltimore's Corbin Burnes will start for the American League in Tuesday night's All-Star Game against Pittsburgh rookie Paul Skenes.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Burnes is 9-4 with a 2.93 ERA in his first season with the Orioles, who acquired him from Milwaukee just before spring training. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner, Burnes is an All-Star for the fourth straight season. He will become the fifth Orioles pitcher to start an All-Star Game, the first since Steve Stone in 1980.

Skenes, who made his major league debut on May 11, is 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 89 and walking 13 in 66 1/3 innings. The 11 starts for the 21-year-old right-hander will be the fewest for an All-Star and he will become the fifth rookie starter after Dave Stenhouse (1962), Mark Fidrych (1976), Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Hideo Nomo (1995).

NL manager Torey Lovullo announced last week he was starting Skenes.

AL manager Bruce Bochy of World Series champion Texas said Monday he has Steven Kwan of Cleveland hitting leadoff and playing left field, followed by Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson, New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto and center fielder Aaron Judge, Houston designed hitter Yordan Alvarez, Guardians shortstop José Ramírez, Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien.

Ketel Marte bats first and plays second base for the NL, followed by Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, Philadelphia shortstop Trea Turner, Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper, Milwaukee catcher William Contreras, Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich, Phillies third baseman Alex Bohm, Dodgers center fielder Teoscar Hernández and San Diego left fielder Jurickson Profar.

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