Preston Tucker had little time to prepare himself before Thursday’s game.
He arrived at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark shortly before the RedHawks took batting practice and just a few short hours later he delivered his first hit in Triple-A with a sharp single to right field.
It was a good sign for the 23-year-old left-hander, who could be the next promising hitter for the Astros organization to follow players like George Springer and Jon Singleton. Those two started the season in Oklahoma City and are now making a splash with the Astros.
“You always want to get a hit your first game up and obviously if you don’t then you start pressing,” said Tucker minutes before he was scratched from Friday’s starting lineup against Las Vegas because of an illness.
The outfielder and first baseman could become a fan favorite if he hits home runs like the ones that landed in the right-field upper deck during Friday’s batting practice.
“A lot of power, a lot of good at bats,” said Oklahoma City third baseman Matt Duffy when asked what can be expected from Tucker, his teammate in Double-A Corpus Christi earlier this season. “He gives it everything he has every day — and definitely some home runs.”
Tucker’s promotion was a move that was warranted by his ability to tear up the pitcher-friendly Texas League, where he was leading the league with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs.
This came after hitting 25 home runs and driving in 103 runs across two leagues in his first full professional season last year.
It was yet another level he dominated at the plate, which is starting to bring names like Springer and Singleton firmly into the conversation.
“He’s a very aggressive swinger,” RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He knows how to barrel the ball up, he’s got a lot of power and now it’s just a matter of him just trying to get comfortable here and then get some confidence in him and then hopefully he’ll be the next step like the Springers, Singletons and the next guy.”
In college at Florida, Tucker hit .321 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs his senior season before the Astros selected him in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.
Tucker said the key at each level has been his ability to adjust, which if that continues could be the start of something special.
If so, fans could be in for a treat.
“He’s one of the best hitters I’ve ever played with,” Duffy said. “I’ve played with him now for parts of two years of pro ball, so it’s exciting to watch him play. Once he gets comfortable, right away he can do some damage.”