Astros get younger (and shorter). Look for Altuve at second base, immediately.
I guess I was expecting something a little less definitive from manager Brad Mills when he was asked about his plans for Jose Altuve.
Maybe something like, “We’ll, we’re going to ease him in, let him get comfortable here, let him get his feet wet. Angel Sanchez has done a heck of a job for us this year and he’s going to get the bulk of the playing time in the early-going. We’ll work in Altuve once he gets settled in and gets used to the environment up here.”
Altuve is going to play. A lot. Beginning immediately.
“Right now, I plan on playing him at second base tomorrow,” Mills said, about 20 minutes after the Astros traded Jeff Keppinger to the Giants. By tomorrow, Mills means Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. CT, when the Astros wrap up a series and homestand with the Washington Nationals. Mills didn’t mince words: they did not bring Altuve up here to sit. “If he’s healthy, he’s going to play,” Mills said.
The 21-year-old Altuve, who drove in from Corpus on Tuesday and was spotted in the Astros dugout around the seventh inning, is presumably healthy, although he missed five games recently with a leg ailment. If the leg was a problem, obviously, he wouldn’t be here, so we’ll just assume there are no lingering issues in that area.
According to Greg Rajan of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Altuve, who will wear uniform No. 27, is the first Hooks position player to be promoted directly to the Majors and the third overall player, joining pitchers Matt Albers (2006) and Wilton Lopez (2009).
When I blogged about Altuve from Corpus a couple of weeks ago, many of you had the same question: is he ready for the big leagues? And why not just give him a shot, regardless?
My argument for keeping him in the Minors was two-fold. First of all, the Astros season is a lost season. Altuve can’t be that much of a difference-maker where he’d actually catapult the team into contention. No singular player could possibly do that at this point, and bringing him up too quickly is risky in terms of development.
Second, the speed of the game at this level is so much faster than in the Minor Leagues. There will be an adjustment period needed for all players when they make the leap to the big leagues. I was more in favor of inviting Altuve to Major League Spring Training next year and letting him work his way onto the roster at some point after.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Let’s wipe all of that from our short-term memory. It appears the Astros are prepared to push their prospects a little harder, challenge them more and let them learn how to be Major League players by simply putting them out there and forcing them to learn on the job. Altuve is here, and he’s going to play.
What’s more, he could hit a full 100 points lower than his average in the Minor Leagues this year and still be lauded for a solid rookie season.
Here’s what Ed Wade said about the rapid acceleration of the youngsters, namely, Altuve, to the big leagues:
“Over the last four years we’ve talked about creating an express lane in the organization for players. Obviously it’s driven by talent, and everything’s driven by talent, but it’s also driven by makeup and whether players can take on that type of a challenge and move at that pace. We saw Jason Castro do it coming out of college and being in the big leagues in June of 2010. And we’ve seen Jordan Lyles’ ascent to the big leagues this year in the same fashion and we think Jose is made the same way.
“I don’t think we’ve presented a challenge to (Altuve) yet that he hasn’t embraced. Everybody is going to see Jose and see his stature and begin to question his ability from there. In that case people are really going to underestimate what this kid is all about. He’s got a chance to be a really good big league player. Again, we’re not bringing him up here and saying the future of the franchise or the franchise cornerstone is here. We’re bringing a kid up here that we think is capable of handling this level and hopefully benefiting from the experience going forward.”
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