Astros' Tucker makes AFL history as first placement runner
Astros No. 1 prospect Kyle Tucker made Arizona Fall League history on Thursday as the first placement runner, going straight to second base to start the top of the 10th inning. He promptly scored on the first batter of the frame.
Due to an experimental new rule, the No. 7 prospect on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 prospects list started on second to begin the first extra inning of the 2017 AFL season. A passed ball on the first pitch allowed him to advance to third, and he scored on Nationals No. 23 prospect Taylor Gushue's single to center. That helped the Solar Sox defeat the Saguaros, 6-4, in Surprise Thursday.
"It was kind of weird," Tucker said. "I wish it counted as an actual double for me. That would have been nice."
The No. 5 overall pick in 2015 spent most of this past season with Double-A Corpus Christi and was a Futures Game selection in Miami this summer. His brother Preston played for the Astros in 2015 and '16 and spent '17 with Triple-A Fresno.
Kyle was also the reason any extra innings occurred. In the top of the seventh with one runner on and one out, he roped a double to left field to drive in Nationals No. 10 prospect Daniel Johnson and tie the game, 4-4. He finished the day going 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
"We were down one since the first inning," he said. "I got a pretty decent curveball and I just went with it."
The extra-inning runner placement rule was implemented just this year. It's an experimental rule and it replaces Official Baseball rule 7.01b. The runner placed on second at the start of each inning is the batter that precedes the inning's leadoff hitter or a substitute of said player. The run would be considered unearned, but no error would be charged to any team or specific player.
To seal the victory, Tigers' prospect Kody Eaves hit a solo shot to right-center field just two batters later. Eaves went 2-for-5 and struck out twice.
Michael O'Neill, a Rangers prospect and nephew of former Yankee Paul O'Neill, provided a spark at the top of the order for the Saguaros with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI in five at-bats. He climbs up the leaderboards with his seventh RBI in the fall.
Both starters were roughed up early and allowed seven runs combined in just the first two innings. As a result, 11 pitchers were used in the 10-inning affair.