Tucker, Alvarez steer Express past Omaha

Top Astros prospects combine for six hits, drive in five runs

Kyle Tucker is hitting .351/.429/.811 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 10 games in May. (Andy Nietupski/Round Rock Express)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | May 11, 2019 12:42 AM

Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez demonstrated again Friday night that reinforcements are ready should they be needed in Houston.

The Astros' second- and third-ranked prospects, respectively, collected three hits apiece and combined to drive in five runs as Triple-A Round Rock held on for an 8-7 victory over Omaha at Werner Park. 

Tucker fell a triple short of the cycle and homered for the second game in a row, smacking a solo shot in the fifth inning off reliever Zach Lovvorn that gave the Express a 6-5 lead. It was his 10th big fly of the season and his fifth in May, a month in which he's batting .351 after putting up a .173/.221/.407 slash line in April.

Video: Round Rock's Tucker goes yard

The first of Tucker's knocks came early. With two on and two out in the first, he sent a grounder up the middle off starter Kyle Zimmer that scored Astros No. 15 prospect Myles Straw and extended Round Rock's lead to 2-0. Two innings later, he lined a leadoff double to left, his sixth two-bagger of 2019. 

MLB.com's No. 7 outfield prospect finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs, a run scored and a strikeout. He's bumped his average to .229, up nearly 60 points since April 30.

"I've just tried to go opposite field, left of the batter's eye," he told MiLB.com a week ago. "That's the main focus of where I want to hit the ball. My swing hasn't really changed, minus the approach, and it's worked out well so far."

Gameday box score

When the Astros took Tucker straight out of high school with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, they knew they were getting one of, if not the purest hitters in his class. With 60 grades in hitting and power from MLB Pipeline, the No. 2 overall prospect reached the Pacific Coast League three seasons after turning pro and debuted with Houston last August.  

Much like Tucker, Alvarez's three-hit night started with an RBI single in the first. He opened the scoring with a base hit to center field that plated Derek Fisher, who drew a one-out walk and stole second, In the second, MLB.com's No. 39 overall prospect tagged Lovvorn for a two-out two-run double that snapped a 3-3 tie.

Alvarez chipped in a soft liner in the fourth for his second single, giving him seven multi-hit efforts in his last 10 games. He also walked and leads the Pacific Coast League with a .398 batting average, 14 homers, 44 RBIs, a .489 on-base percentage, .856 slugging percentage, 1.345 OPS, 26 extra-base hits and 101 total bases. 

The 21-year-old Cuban came to Houston less than a month after signing with the Dodgers in 2016 as part of the Josh Fields trade. 

2019 MiLB include

Top Astros prospect Forrest Whitley lasted 3 2/3 innings in his sixth appearance and fourth start for Round Rock. He surrendered five runs on five hits, including three homers, and three walks with five strikeouts The 21-year-old right-hander has completed five innings once this season and has a 10.80 ERA.

For Omaha, Jorge Bonifacio crushed a pair of dingers, hitting a solo shot of Whitley in the third and a two-run blast off Cy Sneed in the ninth. Cheslor Cuthbert and Nick Dini also homered for the Storm Chasers, while Royals No. 8 prospect Nicky Lopez doubled twice and scored twice.

Sneed (1-4) got the win in relief of Whitley, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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