Alex Bregman Showed What the Hype Was All About Last Night
There are few things more exciting than when the game's top prospect makes his MLB debut. When that guy comes with the hype that Alex Bregman has generated the past few weeks, peeps gonna get in a tizzy real quick.
Bregman promptly went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts as the Houston Astros lost to the New York Yankees, 2-1. Is it too early to call him a bust or nah?
Clearly, the answer there is yes, and you all are smart enough to know that. Even in going 0-for-4, Bregman showed us a bit of what made him the top youngster in the minor-league ranks, according to Keith Law's midseason prospect update. Let's take a deeper look at Bregman's debut to show why that excitement should still be lingering.
Bregman's rapid ascension from Double-A to the majors this year was largely due to his other-worldly hitting abilities, but he actually kicked off his career with some solid defense.
The Astros drafted Bregman as a shortstop out of LSU, but they've got some dude named Carlos Correa anchoring that spot right now. As such, Bregman bopped all around the field when he went up to Triple-A, playing third base, left field, and shortstop.
The movement doesn't seem to bother him.
We'd say @ABREG_1 is handling the transition to third just fine. https://t.co/hhqBLemC7B pic.twitter.com/NWRrBiBfA0
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 26, 2016
According to the Statcast video, Bregman threw the ball 123 feet across the diamond after ranging over 20 feet to get there. Seem solid? ESPN's Buster Olney would agree after Bregman made another solid play earlier in the game.
Alex Bregman at third base tonight: Two innings, two Web Gems.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 26, 2016
With Bregman, though, the Astros don't even need elite-level defense. They're currently 23rd in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 innings (UZR/150) at third base, the spot where Bregman will likely see a majority of his time. Even if he's below average, he can still be on par with the production they were getting there previously, and last night made it look like "below average" is the floor.
He'll probably also occupy left field at times, and the Astros have been tremendous defensively there as they sit third in UZR/150. Considering he played only 22 innings in the outfield prior to his promotion, it would seem ambitious to ask Bregman to live up to that.
His bat should nullify any deficiencies there.
Let's not kid ourselves: even though Bregman looked dope at the hot corner last night, he's here to rake. And that's exactly what he did in the minors.
In 368 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, Bregman had more walks than strikeouts while basking in a .306/.406/.580 slash with 20 dingers and 7 stolen bases.
He's. Really. Good.
Obviously, the two strikeouts last night are a bit disappointing. However, those two strikeouts came against Michael Pineda and Andrew Miller, who have strikeout rates of 27.6% and 44.6%, respectively. With a 10.3% strikeout rate in the minors, you're probably not going to have to worry about Bregman in the contact department long-term. And he almost showed why the balls he does put in play will be so fun.
Valbuena walks. Bases are loaded for Bregman. 👀
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 26, 2016
Bases juiced and two outs in the sixth inning of a tie game. No pressure, right, rookie?
Bregman made solid contact on a 95.14-mile-per-hour Pineda heater, giving it a ride to the right-field corner. With an exit velocity of 97.45 miles per hour and a launch angle of 33.9 degrees, that puppy had a shot to hunt.
It's just one ball in play, but again, it's reflective of the destruction Bregman showed in the minor leagues. And if he can come anywhere close to sniffing what he did at the lower levels, the Astros will be simply giddy within the next few weeks.
Just in case a couple nice defensive plays and a nearly-grand tater aren't enough for you, Bregman's parents got to go the game, and they seemed prettay, prettay stoked as their kid received a standing ovation from the crowd in Houston.
It doesn't show up in the box score, but you have to admit that a moment like that is beyond cool.
Yes, going 0-for-4 was likely a disappointment for Bregman as he played on a national stage for the first time in the pros. But even while doing that, he showed -- both with his glove and his stick -- why the world has been clamoring for his call-up. If last night and his track record in the minors are any indication, we shouldn't be expecting many more 0-for-4 nights in the future.