MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Cole Tucker’s major-league debut was the stuff ballplayers dream of, but his return to Triple-A was anything but. Now, the former first-round draft pick has found his stride with the Indians.
When Tucker was called up to Pittsburgh in late April, he seemed to be doing everything right for Indianapolis. He was hitting .333 with a pair of RBIs, a home run, a triple and a double through his first seven games of the Triple-A season.
In his first game with the Pirates, he hit a 430-foot home run into center field at PNC Park and received a curtain call from the Pirates faithful. But then things went downhill. When he was sent back down to Indy, he was hitting .196 with 34 strikeouts in 38 games.
His return to the Indy lineup didn’t fare a whole lot better, either. He recorded just two hits in his first eight at-bats back with the Tribe and then went 0 for 5 in his third game back.
"It's discouraging, it's terrible, it stinks to face adversity. You want to play really well all the time, but that's not how the game goes. I got punched in the mouth a little bit there,” Tucker told the Indians’ official website days after his return to the Triple-A squad. “It is discouraging because you know you're this good player and you know you belong at that level and you know you can have success. It's just like anything else, you have to make adjustments. I've never faced adversity like that."
Since, however, he’s seemingly found his way. The shortstop has collected 12 hits over his past nine games with three home runs, a triple, two doubles and six RBIs. He’s also stolen two bases in three attempts.
"You'd be a fool to just sit there in misery and think, I hope this goes away,” Tucker told the team’s site in regard to his apparent slump.
Tucker’s value comes not only with his bat, his glove and his feet, but with his confidence and positivity. It’s rare you find the 22-year-old Phoenix native without a smile, even when he’s discussing his negative play.
Pirates coaches feel the same way.
“Cole needs to go play. Well done. More to work on,” manager Clint Hurdle told reporters when Tucker was sent back down. “To play at this level for this many games, I think it’s going to help him moving forward, and it’ll make him a better player with the next opportunity he gets.”
For the season in Triple-A, which includes the early stint, Tucker is hitting .303 with six home runs, two triples, six doubles, eight stolen bases and 14 RBIs at the top of the lineup for the Indians. He’s also got a .991 fielding percentage.
His time will come again.
TRIBE’S TOP HITTERS
Here’s who I’ve identified as the Indians’ top hitters over the past week. Slim pickins:
Darnell Sweeney, INF — 5 for 15 (.333) with a double, a triple and three RBIs and two stolen bases.
Kevin Kramer, INF — 6 for 23 (.260) with two doubles and an RBI.
TRIBE’S TOP PITCHERS
Top starting performance: Cam Vieaux allowed just one base runner through five innings en route to a 6.0-inning winning performance last Tuesday. He struck out six while allowing two runs on four hits. He’s 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA this season in Triple-A.
Top reliever: Montana DuRapau made two appearances out of the pen last week, pitching 4.0 innings total, allowing no hits and just one walk. He struck out three would-be hitters. He picked up his fifth save in five tries in the process.
THE ROSTER MOVES/INJURIES
6/18: RHP Chris Stratton ends MLB rehab assignment with Indianapolis, reinstated from 10-day IL and recalled by Pirates.
RHP JT Brubaker begins MiLB rehab assignment with Short-Season A West Virginia.
RHP Brandon Maurer begins MiLB rehab assignment with Short-Season A West Virginia.
RHP Dovydas Neverauskas optioned by Pittsburgh (6/15), active in Indianapolis.
LHP Blake Weiman transferred from Double-A Altoona to Indianapolis.
LHP Brandon Waddell transferred from Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona.
RHP Alex McRae is now wearing No. 37.
6/19: UTIL Jake Elmore placed on 7-day injured list (concussion).
RHP Dario Agrazal optioned by Pittsburgh (6/16), active in Indianapolis.
RHP Yefry Ramirez optioned by Pittsburgh (6/18), active in Indianapolis.
RHP Trevor Williams ends MLB rehab with Indianapolis, reinstated from 10-day IL by Pittsburgh.
6/20: INF Hunter Owen transferred from ALT to IND.
6/22: RHP Jesus Liranzo transferred from Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona.
OF Trayvon Robinson reinstated from 7-day injured list.
OF Jason Martin recalled by Pittsburgh.
RHP Mitch Keller optioned by Pittsburgh (6/19), active in Indianapolis.
RHP Yefry Ramirez is now wearing No. 32.
6/23: RHP Jordan Lyles begins major league rehab assignment with Indianapolis.
The Indians went 3-3 over the past week, bringing their overall record to 39-34. The Tribe were outscored 28-24. The Tribe lost a three-game series to Buffalo, 2-1, and then took two of three from Pawtucket. Next up, Indy hosts Louisville and Columbus on back-to-back two-game sets before hitting the road to take on Gwinnett in a three-game tilt.
INDY FUN THING
This is a pretty cool story:
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) June 23, 2019
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