The Braves hot stove season has been relatively quiet sans the significant trade that saw Matt Kemp shipped to the Dodgers in exchange for several one-year contracts including Adrian Gonzalez (who was immediately DFAed), Brandon McCarthy, and Sean Kazmir. With the budget for 2018 largely used up on that move, the Braves are likely not going to be participating in the major players on the this year’s free agent market. That said, that does not mean they are going to stand pat and the relatively minor move that the Braves made to acquire outfielder Preston Tucker from the Astros for cash or a player to be named later is indicative of that.
But who is Preston Tucker? Here is a quick breakdown of who he is and what to expect.
Who is Preston Tucker?
Tucker was originally drafted by the Astros in the 7th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Florida and is the brother of one of the Astros’ best prospects, Kyle Tucker. He is a lefty both with his arm and at the plate and features some power and feel to hit although his results in limited major league action have left something to be desired so far. In his minor league career, he has slashed a .282/.353/.491 line with 100 home runs in 535 career games with the significant portion of that playing time happening in the Pacific Coast League.
Preston also has some significant experience in the majors (146 games), but the combination of sub-par performance, the presence of a LOT of really talented outfielders on Houston’s roster, and an injury to his shoulder blade did not allow him to stick on the major league roster with the Astros. Tucker posted a .219/.274/.403 line in his time in the majors.
What he is not
We will start with the things that Preston is (likely) not going to bring to the table. Tucker is not a threat with his legs as he has 13 stolen bases in 23 attempts total in his six seasons in the minor leagues. He also does not appear to be a defensive dynamo, either, as he has posted -9 defensive runs saved in the major leagues with less than good range numbers in both corner outfield spots. It is worth noting that he does not appear to be error prone based on this minor league track record, but there does not seem to be a ton of defensive upside either.
Tucker is also not a “prospect” and likely is what he is at this point. At the age of 27 and approaching 700 games of professional baseball between the majors and the minors under his belt, there is little to no projectability when it comes to future expectations for his development.
What he is
Just because there are things that he is not particularly adept at does not mean that Preston could not be a useful bench outfielder. For starters, his bat from the left side has been particularly productive against righties in his career especially in terms of getting to his above average to plus raw power. In his major league career, 16 of his 17 home runs have come off of right-handed pitchers. The power itself has shown in the minors as he has become pretty adept at hitting the long ball as well as working the gaps to get his fair share of doubles as well.
While he has certainly struggled to get on-base in the majors, Tucker has also shown a decent hit tool in the minors and a reasonable ability to draw walks as well. Joey Votto he is not, but it is possible that he could round into a hitter that could post an on-base percentage in the .330-.340 range especially if his usage against lefties was limited.
So what should we expect from Preston Tucker?
As of this moment, it seems clear that Tucker’s best bet to make the Braves’ roster is as a bench bat. There is limited upside with Tucker, but he does have a decent pedigree of performance in the minors and his experience level could have value. That said, he will likely be competing for said job against Lane Adams who can play any of the positions in the outfield if necessary and has more versatility in terms of his tools. Given that the Braves did not give up much to acquire him in the first place, this move is very likely to result in Preston playing in Gwinnett for the most part as a quad-A type guy that can be called up in the case of injury and play off the bench or in a corner spot on a short-term basis.