Bregman brings 'exceptional' D to MLB debut

'It's the most fun I've ever had,' Astros' top prospect says

Bregman brings 'exceptional' D to MLB debut

HOUSTON -- It may have felt like forever for some, but Astros No. 1 prospect Alex Bregman is officially a Major League ballplayer.

Bregman made his debut Monday night against the Yankees, and while it wasn't a perfect outing -- he went 0-for-4 at the plate and the Astros lost, 2-1 -- the third baseman showed flashes, especially on defense, of what made his debut so highly anticipated.

"I thought he was exceptional on defense at a position he hadn't played too many innings at," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "The moment wasn't too big for him. The game wasn't too fast. His ability to be athletic and make plays was tested early in the first couple of innings."

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"It felt better than I thought it would feel," Bregman said. "It felt amazing. It's the most fun I've ever had."

Bregman's standing ovation

And while Bregman didn't notch his first hit, just missing a grand slam on a sixth-inning fly out to the right field warning track, he said he feels like he "can definitely hit at this level," Bregman said.

"Just missed a few pitches today," he said. "Back at it again tomorrow."

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In a fitting twist of fate or pure coincidence, Bregman made his debut in front of more than 50 friends and family members against his mother's favorite team -- the Yankees.

Her favorite team before Houston drafted him, that is.

"Everyone else in the house didn't really root for the Yankees, but it's definitely really cool to play against them in your debut," Bregman said Monday afternoon. "Probably the most storied franchise ever."

Bregman on his MLB debut

While Bregman didn't have a favorite team of his own growing up, he did idolize Yankees legend Derek Jeter, so much so that Bregman took on Jeter's famed No. 2 with Houston.

"I always rooted for him, just because he was the captain," Bregman said. "He loved to win, and he was clutch."

That number is also a nod to Bregman's Draft position: Houston selected him with the second overall pick in the 2015 Draft.

Bregman became somewhat of a social media sensation this season among Astros fans, who clamored and begged for the 22-year-old to get called up seemingly every day.

"I'm thankful that they want me to be here, but I'm really just trying to keep my head down and play baseball," Bregman said. "Just worried about playing the game and what happens in between the white lines, and that's it."

Bregman's parents proud of son

The fans' hype wasn't without merit, though. Bregman hit .333 with six home runs and six doubles over 18 games with Triple-A Fresno before coming to Houston.

"The way our team will open our arms to him and invite him into the circle is pretty impressive," Hinch said before the game.

After being called up, Bregman flew from Fresno to Houston, where he was greeted with a night of fun, food, video games and pool at shortstop Carlos Correa's house.

"Alex landed and [Correa] texted Alex, told him to come over," pitcher Lance McCullers said. "[Bregman] ate some food and then played Carlos in [a UFC video game] twice and lost twice."

For the Astros' sake, hopefully the often-confident Bregman is a little more successful at playing baseball than video games.

"Very quality athlete," Dallas Keuchel said of Bregman's debut. "I didn't expect anything less. There was all the hoopla for him, but he's gonna be a quality major leaguer for years to come and whether it's at third base or left field, I think he's going to contribute on a daily basis."

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
After posting a .297/.415/.559 slash line in Double-A across his initial 62 games this season, Bregman needed just 18 games at the Triple-A level (.333/.373/.641 slash line) to convince Astros management that he is ready to help with the club's postseason push. Arguably the most talented hitter in the Minors, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft will likely be in Houston's lineup on most days. Capable of combining a high batting average with a substantial home run total and the occasional stolen base, Bregman should go straight into the active lineup in all fantasy leagues.

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.