Before this season started, Kyle Tucker jotted down a few notes outlining goals for himself, something he does at the beginning of every season. One of the most important was being out of Class A Advanced Buies Creek by the Carolina League All-Star Game in late June.
Tucker, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, did just that -- with nearly a month to spare. Houston's No. 2 prospect was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi on May 30.
"So, I can check that off now," Tucker said with a wide grin.
He's had plenty to smile about this season, his third since he chose the Astros over playing at the University of Florida. In 48 games at Buies Creek, he hit .288 and slugged .554 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs.
The 20-year-old then hit safely in his first 11 games for Corpus Christi, and through 33 Texas League contests, he's hitting .294 and slugging .551 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs.
The 27th-ranked prospect in baseball, Tucker originally set out to be in Houston within "two or three years" when he was drafted two years ago. That would make him the latest in a line of fast-rising prospects to join the Astros.
Alex Bregman, George Springer and Carlos Correa each breezed through the Minors to make their MLB debuts within three years of getting selected in the first round. Now those three are fixtures in one of baseball's best lineups.
"Our organization, they push guys," Tucker said. "But you have to be successful at each level -- you can't hit .200 and just hope for a callup. You've got to do your own part."
But Tucker doesn't feel any pressure to get to Houston just yet. The Astros have used the American League's best offense to grab the best record in baseball, so Tucker likely won't be needed this year.
"It'd be nice," he said. "But realistically, I think next year would be more reasonable."
Video: Tucker's solo shot for Hooks
With a promotion already under his belt this year, Tucker feels comfortable working on his weaknesses without feeling much pressure. He notes pitch selection as his biggest improvement since entering pro baseball, but also an area in which he still needs work.
"I can definitely get better with that," he said.
If so, he might end up doing something for the first time -- appearing in a lineup with his older brother, Preston. The Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies outfielder, a seventh-round pick of the Astros in 2012, is seven years older than Kyle, so the two have never played on the same team.
"I'm working my way toward that," Kyle said. "Hopefully, one day that will happen."
Best get better: The San Antonio Missions cruised to a first-half South Division title, and now the team with the best overall record in the Texas League is adding to its talent. In the last two weeks, right-hander Cal Quantrill, outfielder Josh Naylor and left-hander Joey Lucchesi have each joined the Missions from Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Quantrill is the Padres' No. 2 prospect, while Naylor and Lucchesi rank 12thand 19th, respectively. Naylor was hitting .297 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs before going 0-for-4 in his June 11 debut. Lucchesi is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in two starts.
Moving on: Edwin Rios has been one of the league's best hitters since the beginning of the season. Now he's a problem for those in the Pacific Coast League -- he was promoted to Oklahoma City on July 7. Rios hit .317 with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs as Tulsa's third baseman. In four games with the Triple-A Dodgers, the orginization's No. 21 prospect is hitting .231 with one home run.
Back for more: Josh Staumont was sent to Northwest Arkansas from Triple-A Omaha on July 5. Kansas City's No. 2 prospect was 2-1 with 3.04 ERA in 11 starts for the Naturals last year but was 3-8 with a 6.28 ERA in 15 starts at Omaha this year.