How Loperfido's debut fits in with other top Astros

May 1st, 2024

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

HOUSTON -- There were a lot of expectations placed on prior to his Major League debut on Tuesday. The Astros sent out social media posts and a press release on Monday confirming he would be called up to the big leagues, which is the kind of promotional material usually given to the most elite prospects.

Loperfido is the team’s No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and he led the Minor Leagues in home runs with 13, so it’s understandable why the team and fans were excited for his call to Houston. Ultimately, Loperfido’s play at the big league level will determine how much attention he receives in the future, and his clutch two-run single in Tuesday’s 10-9 walk-off win over Cleveland was a good start.

“I try to treat every at bat the same,” said Loperfido, who went 1-for-5 while starting in left field. “Look at the scouting report, come up with my plan and try to stick to it. But to kind of be thrown in the fire night one, why not?”

Let’s take a look back at some of the club’s most anticipated Major League position-player debuts of the last decade and where they went from there:

When: June 8, 2015, at White Sox
Age: 20 years, 259 days
Result: 1-for-4 with one RBI
The aftermath: Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, was one of the top prospects in baseball when the Astros sent him to Chicago for his debut -- which came on the same day they drafted another shortstop, Alex Bregman, at No. 2 overall. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, Correa blossomed into a star and a franchise icon in Houston, leading the Astros to six trips to the playoffs, including three AL pennants and the 2017 World Series championship.

When: July 25, 2016, vs. Yankees
Age: 22 years, 117 days
Result: 0-for-4 with two strikeouts
The aftermath: Bregman was hitless in his first 17 MLB at-bats through five games before manager A.J. Hinch moved him up to second in the batting order in a vote of confidence. It worked. Bregman recorded his first Major League hit July 31 against the Tigers and quickly established himself as one of the game’s premier third basemen. He was a cornerstone player on two World Series championship teams.

When: Aug. 21, 2016, at Orioles
Age: 32 years, 73 days
Result: 1-for-2
The aftermath: Signed to a five-year, $47 million contract after an illustrious career in Cuba, Gurriel found a home in Houston and was one of the club’s most popular players en route to winning World Series titles in 2017 (he caught the final out) and 2022. Gurriel won an AL batting title and Gold Glove at first base in 2021 and left Houston after the 2022 World Series.

When: July 7, 2018, vs. White Sox
Age: 21 years, 171 days
Result: 1-for-4 with one RBI
The aftermath: Tucker, taken with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 Draft (three spots behind Bregman), got off to a slow start at the plate and played in only 28 games in ’18 and 22 in ’19 before taking over as the team’s full-time starter in 2020 -- the pandemic-shortened season. He’s been entrenched in right field since, and last year, he finished fifth in AL MVP voting and led the AL with 112 RBIs.

When: June 9, 2019, vs. Orioles
Age: 21 years, 347 days
Result: 1-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs
The aftermath: The Cuban slugger, acquired in 2016 from the Dodgers in exchange for relief pitcher Josh Fields, homered in his second career at-bat and has been a force since. He batted .313 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs and set a Major League rookie record with a 1.067 OPS in 87 games in ‘19, winning the AL Rookie of the Month in each of his first three months in the big leagues. Not surprisingly, he was a unanimous pick for AL Rookie of the Year and is one of the game’s top sluggers.

When: April 7, 2022, at Angels
Age: 24 years, 197 days
Result: 0-for-4 with two strikeouts
The aftermath: Peña took over as the Astros’ starting shortstop in 2022 following the departure of Correa in free agency. He had an up-and-down rookie season before shining in the playoffs -- he hit an 18th-inning game-winning homer to eliminate the Mariners in the ALDS and was named the MVP of the ALCS against the Yankees and the World Series against the Phillies. He also won a Gold Glove as a rookie and remains Houston’s starting shortstop.