The Runner Sports

Break Up The Astros! Kyle Tucker Leads New A+ Buies Creek To Top Of Carolina Lg.

Talk about relocation! When the Houston Astros moved their A-Advanced farm club, The Lancaster JetHawks, from their California League holdings in the desert north of Los Angeles, they chose a location that’s a steady eastbound 37-hour car drive away (I-40 virtually the whole way)!

Destination: Campbell University (home of the Camels) in tiny Buies Creek, North Carolina (Harnett County), halfway between Raleigh and Fayetteville.

For the next couple years, they’ll be known as the Buies Creek Astros, looking for all the world like their big league counterparts, sartorially-speaking anyway.

In 2019, they’ll have a new name (for which a fan-engaged contest is underway), a new stadium all their own in Fayetteville, and a new uniform.

The move east will, if nothing else, help Houston’s scouting department avoid the confusion of players’ bloated batting stats aided by wind-blown drives at Lancaster’s Hangar stadium. More realistic and reliable stats, now, ought to emanate from Houston’s A-Advanced roster going forward.

Through games of April 15, the BC Astros were 8-2, sitting atop the Southern Division of the Carolina League, two games up on the due-east Down East Wood Ducks, the Kinston-based High-A affiliate of (wait for it, Houston fans….the Texas Rangers). The in-state rivalry reaches down into the low minors!

Buies Creek harbors many of the Houston organization’s most prized prospects, including blue-chipper Kyle Tucker, 20, coveted by many of the teams who have contacted Houston lately regarding trades.

He’s Houston’s #2 overall prospect, top-ranked position player, and while MLB ranks him #32 overall, Baseball America is more impressed, with their #19 overall placement of Tucker.

Related: Brotherly Glove: Kyle Tucker Astros Class A All-Star

The lefty-hitting, 6’4″, 190-pound Tucker is off to a quick start, hitting .343 in 35 ABs, with 5 doubles, a triple, 2 homers, 11 RBIs, and a 1.109 OPS, through Saturday. A remarkable two-thirds of his 12 hits have been of the extra-base variety.

Fittingly, he sits atop the Carolina League leaderboard with 25 TBs, tied with Boston farmhand, Josh Tobias (Salem Red Sox). Tucker is second in the league with 11 RBIs. His .714 slugging percentage is a league second, as well, while his OPS ranks 3rd.

In fact, Tucker’s game (playing RF) against Winston-Salem, Saturday, April 15, was one for the ages, in the Astros’ 13-6 pounding of the Dash (White Sox A+ affiliate).

Going 4-for-5, Tucker slammed a homer and two doubles, racking up 9 total bases and 7 RBIs (and a stolen base), in a bravura performance that ought to strengthen the resolve of other teams to procure him, while (hopefully), solidifying Houston GM Jeff Luhnow’s resolve to keep him.

Video: Watch K-Tuck’s 3-run homer from Saturday, hit so hard (yet with his customary fluid swing), he finishes his swing on one knee

Kyle was the 5th overall pick by Houston (out of Plant High School in Tampa, FL) in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft. He spent the final month of 2016 in Lancaster, hitting .339 in 59 ABs. Again, his 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 homers could easily be argued to be wind-aided.

What can’t be argued, though, is the 4/5 of the season spent at Houston’s full-season Quad Cities, whom he represented in the Midwest League All-Star Game with his .276, 19 doubles, 5 triples, and 6 homers. He also stole 31 of 40 bases.

To say Preston Tucker‘s little brother is a dynamic player is an understatement to be sure, and certainly explains why teams engaging Houston in trade talks routinely have Kyle at the top of their return list.

More Buies Creek Astros To Follow (all stats thru 4/15/17):

OF Myles Straw (22, 5’10”, 180): Season line: .286/.382/.357

Related: Myles Straw Proves Combustible At Lower Levels

OF Jason Martin (21, 5’11”, 190): .314/.390/.400

Related: OF Destiny For Jason Martin: Bass or Bourn?

2B Ryne Birk (22, 5’10”, 185): .344/.353/.625

RHP Akeem Bostick (21, 6’6″, 215): 11 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, .111 BAA, 0.64 WHIP

RHP Franklin Perez (19, 6’3″, 197): 9.1 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, .034 BAA, 0.43 WHIP

LHP Framber Valdez (23, 5’11”, 170): 4 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, .063 BAA, 1.25 WHIP

Brad Kyle

Brad Kyle

Here I am, meeting with Nolan Ryan at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, TX. One of us is trying to convince the other to take his 90 mph fastball, and get back into the game.

Needless to say, I've decided to spend my golden years, instead, crooning Sinatra at nursing homes, while reflecting on a life well-lived in the classroom, spinning rock'n'roll in '70s radio stations, and peddling wax in the record biz.

I'm a Houston native, having attended 'Stro games in Colt Stadium, the beloved Astrodome, and Minute Maid.

Join me at TRS for full Astros coverage, minor league peeks, player profiles, interviews, MLB historical perspective, and surprises!
Brad Kyle