On the Farm: Smith, Tropeano, Tucker

By Corpus Christi Hooks | March 26, 2014 9:57 AM ET

Leading up to the 2014 season, cchooks.com spotlights select farmhands in the Astros system. Today, we feature RHPs Kyle Smith and Nick Tropeano and OF Preston Tucker.

Kyle Smith
BORN September 10, 1992 in Boynton Beach, FL
BATS Right
ACQUIRED In a trade with Kansas City for Justin Maxwell on July 31, 2013

Career Highlights: 2014 - Entered the season rated the Astros' 13th best prospect by MLB.com.

2013 - Combined to go 6-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 24 starts between Wilmington and Lancaster. Won four out of five starts May 7-30, going 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA (5 ER in 28.2 IP). Dropped three straight starts June 9-25, with an 0-3 record and a 6.91 ERA (11 ER in 14.1 IP). Allowed more than four runs in a start just once - June 9 at Winston-Salem. In five July starts, was 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA. Traded to the Astros on July 31. Made first start with the JetHawks August 3 and lasted just two-thirds of an inning after he allowed four earned runs on four hits and three walks. The next time out, on August 10, he tossed a complete-game two-hit shutout with a season-high nine strikeouts at High Desert. In four home starts for Lancaster, he was 0-1 with an 11.93 ERA. Took a no-decision in his lone playoff start, allowing one earned run on seven hits in five innings.

2012 - Made pro debut June 19 and earned win, by allowing an earned run on three hits in five innings pitched. Joined Kane County before his next start. Over his first two starts with the Cougars, tossed 10 shutout innings with two walks and 11 strikeouts. Won four of five starts July 21-August 18 with a 1.93 ERA (6 ER in 28 IP) in that stretch. In five August starts, went 3-2 with a 2.22 ERA, six walks and 38 strikeouts in 28.1 innings pitched. Road ERA was more than a run lower than home earned run average (2.23 against 3.60).

Career stat note: Averages 9.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings and has a 3.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

2012 Idaho Falls (R) 1-0 1.80 1 1 0 0 0 5.0 3 1 1 1 11
  Kane County (A) 4-3 2.94 13 13 0 0 0 67.1 62 26 22 20 87
2013 Wilmington (A) 5-4 2.85 19 19 0 0 0 104.1 93 38 33 29 96
  Lancaster (A) 1-1 7.33 5 5 1 1 0 23.1 26 19 19 9 21
  Career Totals 11-8 3.38 38 38 1 1 0 200.0 184 84 75 59 215

Nick Tropeano
BORN August 27, 1990 in West Islip, NY
BATS Right
RESIDES West Islip, NY
ACQUIRED Selected in the fifth round of the June 2011 draft

Career Highlights: 2014: Entered the season tabbed Houston's 14th-best prospect by MLB.com.

2013 - Rated by MLB.com as Houston's No. 9 prospect entering the 2013 season. Led the Texas League with 130 strikeouts. Led the Hooks innings (133.2), hits allowed (140) and strikeouts. Was part of three combined shutouts, two coming out of the tandem rotation in which he was paired with RHP Bobby Doran. Struggled as a starter early in the season, dropping his first three decisions; did not pick up a victory until May 27 against Arkansas. Was lights out in relief as part of the tandem rotation. As a reliever went 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and five saves in eight games. Did not allow more than three runs in a game in his first 10 appearances. Fanned a season-best 10 on August 1 against Midland, including a one-pitch strikeout of Vinny Catricala. Catricala, took strike one, argued the call, and when he refused to get back in the batter's box, home plate umpire Ron Teague called strikes two and three. Won three straight decisions July 20-August 1. Went eight innings and allowed just one run on six hits in a loss August 14 at Northwest Arkansas. Was the losing pitcher in Corpus Christi's Game Two TLDS loss to San Antonio.

2012 - Divided last year between Lexington and Lancaster, going a combined 12-7 with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts and 27 appearances. Struck out 166 and walked 47 in 158.0 innings pitched, notching a WHIP of 1.24. Led the organization in Ks and was first among full-season farmhands in ERA, while his victory total slotted fourth. His strikeouts ranked second in Class A and sixth in the minors. Fanned a career-high 10 batters over five innings of relief in debut with the Legends on April 9 at Hagerstown. Earned South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week honors twice. The first for his winning effort on April 19 when he tossed eight shutout innings at Kannapolis, striking out nine while walking two. On May 5, blanked Asheville and held the Tourists to a pair of hits thru seven innings, racking up another victory and the second P-o-W award. In June, went 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in five starts, striking out 30 against 15 walks over 28.1 IP. A Mid-Season SAL All-Star, ranked, at the time of his promotion, among the league's leaders in innings pitched (1st), strikeouts (2nd) and ERA (T-5th). Garnered California League Pitcher of the Week honors following his initial start with Lancaster on July 1. Yielded one unearned run over eight innings, notching nine strikeouts against two walks, to deliver the victory at Modesto. Was 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA over six August starts. Struck out 35 and walked eight in 37.2 innings en route to being named team and Topps CAL League Pitcher of the Month. During tenure with the JetHawks, tied for first in the circuit in strikeouts, ranked fourth in innings pitched, sixth in ERA and tied for sixth in wins. Made two starts during the playoffs but did not factor in a decision, allowing four earned runs and three walks while striking out 12 in 12.0 innings. Lancaster went on to capture the California League crown. Made 10 relief appearances and one start for Mesa of the Arizona Fall League. Posted a 3.00 ERA with the Solar Sox, striking out 18 while walking five in 15.0 innings.

2011 - Yielded one hit over five scoreless innings in pro debut at Connecticut on June 21. Won his last three decisions and permitted just two earned runs (0.64 ERA) over final six starts. Fanned 42 and issued nine free passes over 28.0 innings during that stretch, earning Tri-City Player of the Month honors for August.

Career stat notes:  Averaging 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings, while owing a K/BB ratio of 3.37.

School Notes: SUNY Stony Brook. Went 12-1 with a 1.84 ERA during junior season, leading the 2011 Seawolves to their first America East regular-season title and a school-record 42 wins. Tabbed a Second Team All-American by the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Became the first player to earn the conference's Pitcher of the Year award twice. Established America East single-season records in victories and strikeouts (119). Ranked second in the country in wins and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.52). In three-year tenure at Stony Brook, posted a 25-6 record and 2.83 ERA. Completed 15 of his 36 starts, striking out 275 against 69 walks in 251 innings.

2011 Tri-City (R) 3-2 2.36 12 12 0 0 0 53.1 42 18 14 21 63
2012 Lexington (A) 6-4 2.78 15 14 0 0 0 87.1 77 29 27 26 97
  Lancaster (A) 6-3 3.31 12 12 0 0 0 70.2 72 37 26 21 69
2013 Corpus Christi (AA) 7-10 4.11 28 20 1 0 5 133.2 140 65 61 39 130
  Career Totals 22-19 3.34 67 58 1 0 5 345.0 331 149 128 107 359

Preston Tucker
BORN July 6, 1990 in Tampa, FL
SCHOOL University of Florida
ACQUIRED Selected in the 16th round of the June 2012 draft

Career Highlights: 2014 - Entered the season rated Houston's 15th-best prospect by MLB.com.

2013 - Hit a combined .297 with 25 home runs and 103 RBIs in 135 games between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. His RBI total in 2013 ranked seventh in MiLB. Earned JetHawks Player of the Month for May after he hit .342 with five home runs and 30 runs batted in. Named California League Player of the Week May 27-June 3 for hitting .379 (11-for-29) with three home runs and 19 RBIs. Posted his second career six-RBI game May 28 at Rancho Cucamonga. Was a Cal League Mid-Season All-Star for a first half in which he hit .325 with 17 doubles, 12 homers and 62 RBIs. Third career six-RBI game came at home against Rancho Cucamonga June 23. Promoted to Corpus Christi June 26. Hit .290 July 19-August 21 to raise batting average from .194 to .260. During that stretch reached base in 19 straight home games with an on-base percentage of .417. In the postseason, hit .118 (2-for-17) with one RBI.

2012 - Made pro debut July 18. Hit in 16 of his first 18 games at a .364 clip. Twice named New York-Penn League Player of the Week: August 6-13 and August 20-27. The first week, went 10-for-25 (.400) with four home runs and 10 RBIs, including his first career six-RBI game. Two weeks later, he posted a .382 average (13-for-34) with two long balls and 11 runs batted in. Crushed left-handed pitching at a .371 batting average.

Career stat note: Has walked in 9.4 percent of plate appearances. Averages a home run every 21.2 at-bats.

College notes: Left the University of Florida as the school's all-time leader in at-bats (1,035), hits (341), RBIs (258) and doubles (70). Named first team All-American in 2012 and a second teamer in 2011, but earned first team All-SEC honors following both campaigns. As a senior in '12 hit .321 with 16 long balls and 50 runs batted in. As a junior the previous season, posted a .308 batting average and a team-best 74 RBIs. Selected by Colorado in the 16th round of the 2011 draft, but returned to Florida for his senior season. A second team All-SEC selection and conference All-Defensive team member at first base in 2010. In 2009, became the first Florida player to earn NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year honors. Collected the Gators' "Triple Crown" his freshman season, hitting .364 with 15 round-trippers and a school-record 85 RBIs. Also named co-SEC Freshman of the Year and a first team Freshman All-American. Only Gator to be named to a Regional All-Tournament four times. In 30 career NCAA Tournament games, hit .368 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs.

2012 Tri-City .321 42 187 32 53 7 0 8 38 18 16 1
2013 Lancaster (A) .326 75 298 61 97 18 1 15 74 29 45 3
  Corpus Christi (AA) .262 60 237 36 62 14 1 10 29 27 46 0
  Career Totals .303 177 700 129 212 39 2 33 141 74 107 4

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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