by Marc Hefferan
*MLBDepthCharts.com considers any player not on a team's 40-man roster, in AAA, or ranked as a top 10 prospect by Baseball America or top 11 prospect by Baseball Prospectus before the 2012 season as an 'under the radar' player.
Under the Radar Minor League NL Hitting Performance of the Week
OF Preston Tucker - Short-Season Tri-City (HOU)
season stats: .352 BA, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 3 2B, 8 BB, 5 K in 23 games
August 8-August 14: 8-for-18, 3 HR, 7 RBI
In December of 2011, the Houston Astros announced the hiring of new General Manager Jeff Luhnow. In his press conference, the former St Louis Cardinals vice president stated that he was confident he could help turn around both a franchise that saw a 2011 major league worst 56-106 record and a depleted minor league system. Luhnow just couldn’t guarantee how long it would take. Fast forward several months and not only has Luhnow immediately improved the organizations stock through several trades, he’s also taken a decorated nine year track record of scouting and development with the Cardinals into this year’s draft. His #1 overall selection of 17 year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa surprised many, but the quality of depth Houston acquired left many in the industry thinking a bright Astros future is in short order. A big part of that could be 2012 7th round ‘sleeper’ Preston Tucker, a power hitting first baseman/corner outfielder out of the University of Florida. The 22 year-old highlighted his week with four hits on August 10th, including two home runs and six RBI, vs. Staten Island. He followed this with two consecutive 2-hit games, including another home run on August 12th.
Fellow Florida Gator and Seattle Mariners 1st Rounder Mike Zunino may be getting all of the publicity with a recent three-level promotion, but Tucker has been no slouch. He currently leads the New York Penn League in OPS (.992), ranks second in SLG% (.570) and third in AVG (.354) in 21 games. While a junior at Florida in 2011, the Rockies drafted Tucker in the 16th round even though they considered him a tough sign. He proved them right by staying for his senior season, finishing with a career .329 batting average, 57 home runs and 258 RBI. The Astros watched the smooth swinging lefty fall into the 7th round in the June draft after pre-draft reports showed he was a solid 2nd-to-4th rounder. The organization was not only impressed with his huge power potential, but his quick hands and the superior plate discipline he displayed, drawing more walks (127) than strikeouts (107). Houston swooped in and chose Tucker as the 219th overall pick and immediately assigned him to Class-A Short Season Tri-City. Scouts view the 6'0", 220 lb Tucker as the perfect Luhnow product: a polished hitter with premium baseball acumen, and someone who may not require much time in the minors before he helps the Astros back into perennial playoff contention.
1B Jonathan Griffin, Hi-A Visalia (ARI): .290 BA, 22 HR, 87 RBI, 18 2B, 45 BB, 101 K in 119 games; 8-for-22, 3 HR, 3 2B, 8 RBI in last week.
OF Mac Williamson, Short-Season Salem-Keizer (SF): .316 BA, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 6 2B, 7 BB, 13 K in 23 games (AZL/SS); 11-for-30, 2 HR, 2 2B, 9 RBI in last week.
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UTR Minor League NL Pitching Performance of the Week
Under the Radar 2012 Archive