Among young stars, Tucker makes impression

Rookie outfielder shows he can produce in big leagues

Among young stars, Tucker makes impression

OAKLAND -- Led by incredible Carlos Correa, the Astros' rookie class has been one of the best in club history. Correa is one of the favorites for American League Rookie of the Year, right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. has been terrific, with the exception of one start, and outfielder Preston Tucker is starting for a team in the playoff hunt.

Tucker's rookie numbers have been overshadowed by Correa's greatness, but the 25-year-old has been a key part of Houston's success this year. Called up in May, Tucker entered Friday hitting .265 with 10 homers and 28 RBIs, ranking second among all AL rookies in extra-base hits (27) and doubles (17) and third in homers (10).

"In Spring Training, I didn't know what to expect," said Tucker, a seventh-round draft pick in 2012 out of Florida. "I wanted to make it to the big leagues at some point in the year and help contribute, but I didn't know what role or how long I could be up here for. I'm playing a majority of the time and it's awesome seeing the kind of lineup we have and knowing that I can mix in there and potentially help us out is big."

Tucker set collegiate records at Florida for hits, doubles and RBIs, but he's got some power as well. He has 57 homers in 294 career Minor League games and this year he is one of eight Astros players to hit double-digit homers. So what separates Tucker and his success from other players who put up huge Minor League numbers but can't replicate those at the Major League level?

"A lot of it is just consistency and swing mechanics," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When you get up here, you're going to face some of the most quality pitching day in and day out that you've ever faced. Every night the other team is throwing somebody out there that's pretty difficult.

"I think a player with a simplified approach, a guy like Tucker that isn't overly complicated in his approach or how hitting mechanics are, can adjust to the league maybe a little faster than someone who has some timing mechanisms or some more unique traits about their swing. You never know how a guy is going to adjust to the third deck and the names on the backs of the jerseys can be intimidating for young hitters."

Tucker said some players at Triple-A feast on pitchers who haven't yet figured out their command or don't have good secondary stuff, but can't hit good pitching. Tucker says when he's swing is right, he feels he can hit anyone.

"And if I'm not playing well, I can't really hit anybody," he said. "So I feel like it's just kind of an approach thing. I feel like if I stick to my approach and stay confident, I'll be able to hang with the best of them."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.