Fresno OF Straw called up for glove, sit­u­a­tional speed

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BASEBALL - Hunter Atkins

On Satur­day, the Astros called up speedy righthanded-hit­ting out­fielder

Myles Straw from Class AAA Fresno,.and he was in­serted as a pinch run­ner in the sev­enth in­ning.

Straw bat­ted .291 with 70 stolen bases, 102 strike­outs and a .734 OPS across two lev­els of the mi­nors.

Kyle Tucker might be the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s best prospect at the plate, but the Astros have en­vi­sioned Straw — a 5-10, 180-pound cen­ter fielder from Cal­i­for­nia who turns 24 in Oc­to­ber — boost­ing their chances on the bases.

“When we talk about our play­ers in the spring, we talk about them bring­ing some­thing to the team that some­body else doesn’t,” man­ager A.J.

Hinch said. “With Myles it was al­ways about baserun­ning and base steal­ing.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion wanted Straw to be more ag­gres­sive with steals this sea­son. He nearly dou­bled his to­tal from 2017.

“As you get to­ward the big leagues, there’s more ex­pe­ri­ence and con­trol of the run­ning game, con­trol­ling stolen bases,” said Hinch, a former ma­jor league catcher. “Ev­ery­body knows when he gets on first, he’s prob­a­bly go­ing. So we had to chal­lenge him to be more ag­gres­sive.”

Straw bat­ted .327 in Class AA and strug­gled at .257 in Class AAA.

Hinch lauded Straw’s de­fense at all out­field po­si­tions and ex­pects his great­est value to be in pinch-run op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“To have him as the po­ten­tial ty­ing run is huge,” Hinch said.

The Fresno Griz­zlies might fin­ish their post­sea­son by Sun­day evening. If so, Hinch said the Astros might call up “another player or two,” de­pend­ing on the health and per­for­mance of play­ers on the ma­jor league ros­ter.

McCullers’ re­cov­ery smooth

Starter Lance McCullers Jr. (right fore­arm) com­pleted a 20-pitch bullpen ses­sion and reached a max­i­mum ve­loc­ity of 94 mph at the Astros’ spring train­ing fa­cil­ity in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to A.J. Hinch.

“He ac­tu­ally faced a hit­ter,” Hinch said.

McCullers mixed in all of his pitches.

“Felt re­ally, re­ally good in the end,” Hinch said. “We’ll re­peat that again on Tues­day.”

McCullers has missed 36 games since ex­it­ing a start against the Dodgers on Aug. 4.

The Astros plan for him to re­turn as part of the bullpen in prepa­ra­tion for the play­offs. The righthander had a 2.61 ERA and 19 strike­outs in 201⁄3 in­nings last post­sea­son.

Ro­ta­tion set for Mariners

Man­ager A.J. Hinch set his ro­ta­tion for the Astros’ three-game se­ries against the Mariners that starts Mon­day at Minute Maid Park. The matchups will be:

Fram­ber Valdez (3-1, 2.66 ERA) vs. Wade LeBlanc (8-4, 3.56); Ger­rit Cole (14-5, 2.88) vs. Mike Leake (10-9, 3.99); Dal­las Keuchel (11-10, 3.57) vs. TBD. Mariners left­hander

James Pax­ton (11-6, 3.83) might re­turn from the dis­abled list for Wed­nes­day’s fi­nale.

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