Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopolous on Wednesday continued his crusade to remake the roster by acquiring outfielder Preston Tucker from the Huston Astros for cash considerations or the ever available Player To Be Named Later. The Braves designated relief pitcher Luke Jackson for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Tucker.
The Atlanta #Braves today acquired OF Preston Tucker from the Houston Astros in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. In order to make room on the club’s 40-man roster, the Braves designated RHP Luke Jackson for assignment.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) December 20, 2017
After a very good career at the University of Florida, the Astros made Preston Tucker their pick in the seventh round of the 2012 MLB draft. The corner outfielder has spent his entire professional career in the Astros organization, playing well at each level along the way, before making his MLB debut in 2015 at age 24. Tucker had some moderate success in his debut season, posting a .243/.297/.437 line, with a .193 ISO and a 104 wRC+, making him a just slightly above league average batter.
However, the 2016 MLB season was less forgiving for Preston Tucker. He posted a terrible .164/.222/.328 line, and hs power dwindled (.164 ISO), making him a well below league average hitter (47 wRC+). He spent all of 2017 at AAA, where he seemed to recover some of his hitting stroke. At Fresno, Houston’s AAA affiliate in the offensively inclined Pacific Coast League, Preston Tucker posted a line of .250/.333/.465, with 24 HR, a .215 ISO, and a 102 wRC+.
Tucker can play both corner outfield positions, though not particularly well. He’s spent far more time in LF than RF in his MLB career, though as a professional, he has played more RF overall. Tucker has also managed to play a few games at 1B when called upon, though that is not something he will do regularly.
What The Braves Can Expect From Preston Tucker
The left-handed Tucker is almost certainly a platoon option, or LH pinch hit option. He should not face LHP unless the remaining batters are Daniel Winkler and me. He does have a little power still in his bat, and that can play well in a home park that seemed to slightly favor LH pull hitters in its debut season. His ability to play either corner OF position, albeit poorly, does give manager Brian Snitker some flexibility in deciding who and when to pinch-hit. Also, his familiarity with 1B should give the Braves an emergency option in the event of an injury to Freddie Freeman. His career professional ISO of .205 (across all levels of pro ball) is very good, and is something that can help a team starved for power.
Preston Tucker does come with some flaws, though. First, he’s a Gator. I’m not sure there is any way to help that. He also has a big tendency to swing and miss, posting a career K Rate of 23.1% in the majors (though it was a very high 27.8% in 2016). Across all professional seasons, it is a more manageable 18.4%, so perhaps there was still some acclimation to big league pitching that he required. There was no real difference in his 2015 and 2016 chase rates in MLB; he swung at pitches outside the zone at fairly similar rates. But the contact on pitches outside the zone dropped considerably in 2016. This could be a function of pitcher adjustments and/or pitch recognition, both of which are correctable.
Preston Tucker profiles, at least in some respects, similarly to the recently non-tendered Matt Adams. He’s a defensively limited, platoon advantage, LH, pull, power hitter. He could see some platoon time in Atlanta’s OF with Lane Adams, allowing the team to get a look at both players to see what they really have, before deciding to move on.
Conveniently, they can do that while holding down phenom
Andruw Jones Ronald Acuna for about 13 days to give them another year of control. It’s kind of jackhole move, but business is business, and a full year of Ronald Acuna (if he is what he is expected to be) in 2024 is better than two weeks of Ronald Acuna in 2018. Tucker has one option year remaining per Roster Resource, so the Braves have a little flexibility with Tucker if they wish to hold on to him.