The Gulf Coast League is rookie ball league, with the average age for the GCL at about 19 and a half years old. But Monday, a 32 year old was making his second appearance in the Astros organization with the GCL team. Yulieski Gurriel, the top Cuban talent who the Astros gave a 5 year, 47.5 million dollar deal in July, is getting a tune up before joining the Astros. Gurriel's GCL playing time is comparable to the beginnings of spring training for a normal big leaguer.
I happened to be in Orlando this week, and made the short drive over to Kissimmee to the back fields of Osceola County Stadium to get an up close look at Gurriel's tune up at bats. Here's some video I took:
GM Jeff Luhnow says that Gurriel needs to see at least 2 weeks of live pitching in the minors to get his timing down and estimates that Gurriel will be up sometime in August, but no earlier than the middle of the month.
Gurriel carries potential for fantasy owners for the rest of this season. Baseball America called Gurriel's hands "lightning fast" and labeled his power plus. Plus power will translate to 20 or so home runs over a full season. He will join an Astros lineup that ranks 13th in OPS and 15th in runs scored.
Gurriel's promotion later this month may push highly regarded prospect Alex Bregman to the outfield.