Isn’t it great to have a top prospect in your farm system just mashing the ball so hard and so often that you may be forced to just call him up? That’s what the Houston Astros have in Alex Bregman.
Manager A.J. Hinch’s ballclub currently stands at 44-39 after a brutal April. The terrible start of the season was due to a combination of poor hitting and pitching, a recipe doomed to fail. Much of the poor hitting came from spots in the lineup that have clearly improved over the last two months. Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez have done a good job at the corners, while Jason Castro, Evan Gattis and now A.J. Reed control the catcher and DH spots. Carlos Gomez is also back.
One of the only constants this whole season has been at the Minor League level and that’s Alex Bregman. The second overall pick of the 2015 Draft, Bregman has slashed .311/.423/.607 with 18 home runs, 18 doubles and 57 RBI through 67 games this season.
The 22-year old was finally called up to AAA Fresno last week, after competing the AA All-Star Game, and has dominated Triple-A competition in his five games so far with Fresno. In just 21 at-bats with the Grizzlies, Bregman has a .423 average, mashing four home runs with a 1.665 OPS.
Much like what the Astros have done with previous top prospects in the past, GM Jeff Luhnow likes giving his prospects some time in the Minors to potentially regress and slump and then see how they recover. However, with Bregman, the Astros may have no other choice than to call up their best hitting prospect.
The “problem” for the Astros and Bregman is where to play him?
The most logical spot for Bregman would be third base but since the end of April, Luis Valbuena has been hot, raising his batting average from .183 to 257. Keeping his bat in the lineup at this time is the right thing to do. Marwin Gonzalez and A.J. Reed are splitting time at first base, while Evan Gattis and Reed split time at DH. Jason Castro and Gattis split time at catcher.
So should the Astros call him up?
The answer is yes. Adding Bregman to an already good lineup could make it great and the Astros could use a stronger offense with their starting pitching average at best these days. Slotting Bregman in the two or five-hole would make this offense that much more dangerous.
What I suggest the Astros do is call up Bregman for Danny Worth. However, calling up Bregman means playing the young rookie four out of every five games or so, because there’s no reason to call him up if they’re going to sit him more than half the week.
Climbing Tal's Hill
In order for him to receive maximum playing time, Bregman will likely see a lot of time at DH. I believe the Astros should platoon Castro and Gattis (pretty much already what they do), but with Gattis not seeing as much time at DH. Bregman can become the near full-time DH and be ready on other days to play third base or shortstop when needed.
Hinch has the ability to get super creative with many of his position players able to play multiple positions. Against lefties, Hinch could use MarGo in LF (in place of Colby Rasmus) and keep Luis Valbuena and his .275 avg against lefties in the lineup at first base. That would allow Bregman to play third base and Gattis to DH or catch on those days.
Though it appears Alex Bregman is blocked at the Major League level, and technically he is, there are ways to get Bregman near every-day at-bats and it would be wise for the Astros to call him up and let him showcase his skills at Minute Maid Park.