In what proved to be another year filled with gaudy offensive numbers, Kyle Tucker earned himself one more personal accolade.
MLB.com's No. 8 overall prospect scorched his way through the Pacific Coast League this season to garner the Astros' Minor League Player of the Year for the second straight season. sixth-ranked Astros prospect Josh James took the billing as the organization's top pitcher in the Minors.
In his first trip to Triple-A this year, Tucker did not disappoint with the stick as he recorded a .332/.400/.590 slash line in 100 games with Fresno. He went deep 24 times and swiped 20 bases -- his second consecutive 20-20 season. His .989 OPS was good for the best mark in Triple-A and 14th overall in the Minors this season. The 21-year-old was recognized for his efforts at the plate, earning Player of the Week nods twice.
Video: Tucker blasts game-tying homer for Fresno
Tucker made his first jump to the big leagues in his fourth professional season, debuting with the Astros in July. He earned another cup of coffee in August, but was sent back to the PCL to get more regular at-bats. The move paid off for the club's second-ranked prospect, who hit .471 with 10 homers, 27 RBIs and 1.485 OPS in 17 games to earn the circuit's Player of the Month. Fresno fell in the PCL Finals to Memphis, but Tucker earned his third promotion to The Show on Sept. 16 as part of the club's latest slew of callups.
After an Aug. 23 game in which Tucker blasted two homers -- including a grand slam -- to lead a Grizzlies comeback, then-Fresno manager Rodney Linares spoke highly of the outfielder and his future potential at the Major League level.
"His bat-to-ball skills are second to none. He's really impressive to watch," Linares said. "You can see him hit in a game and it looks like he had never hit in his life -- he can get fooled by three breaking balls in a row. But if comes back up again, that breaking ball better be in the dirt. Because if not, he's going to hit it out of the park."
Offseason MiLB include
Meanwhile, James blossomed on the mound in a breakout campaign between Double-A Corpus Christi and Fresno. The right-hander sported a 6-4 record with a 3.23 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 171 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings across the two levels. On Sept. 1, James was added to the Major League roster for the first time and has flourished in Houston with a 1-0 record, a 2.81 ERA and 24 strikeouts in four outings (two starts).
Wielding a 70-grade grade fastball that regularly touches the upper-90s, James has acclimated well to pitching in the Majors during the stretch drive.
"If he's gotten into trouble, he has not conceded the inning. There's no panic in him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch told MLB.com on Wednesday. "That pays dividends moving forward when we're starting to make decisions. Of course he's factoring in."