The Astros signed two players Wednesday night, so let's run through a quick bio on each of them. First up is Travis Buck, a former outfielder for the Oakland A's and Cleveland Indians.â†µ
Buck was drafted out of high school in Washington in the 23rd round by the Seattle Mariners. He decided to go to Arizona State instead and dramatically improved his draft stock. Buck played third base and in the outfield, helping the Sun Devils to the College World Series before getting picked 36th overall by Oakland and signing for a tidy sum of $950,000 in 2005. He went on to hit .328/.399/.511 with 53 doubles in his first 497 pro at-bats before getting called up to Oakland in 2007.â†µ
His skill set has always been his batting eye with a career walk rate just below 9 percent. As a prospect, he was ranked No. 50 overall because of his quick hands, good instincts at the plate and the bat speed to turn on inside fastballs. Here's what Baseball America said about in him 2007:â†µ
The result is he stays balanced, uses the whole field with a repeatable, low maintenance swing and lashed line drives from foul line to foul line.â†µ
The reason everyone was so high on him back then is they assumed that doubles power he showed in the minors would mature into home run power at the big league level. Of course, that was based more on scouting his swing (he got a 65 power rating from one scout in high school) rather than results, since he never hit for power in college or the minors.â†µ
Oakland released him after the 2010 season and he signed with Cleveland, getting 160 plate appearances over 50 games for the Indians in a part-time role. In fact, Buck hasn't had more than 200 plate appearances in a season since 2007, stagnating in Oakland's outfield behind the likes of Coco Crisp and Jack Cust. Buck can play all three outfield positions, but probably fits better on the corners. He's played mostly right field in the minors but was a left fielder mainly in Oakland.â†µ
At the very least, it looks like Buck will fill a Jason Michaels role as the fourth outfielder and pinch hitter off the bench. There is a small chance, however, that he can grab the starting right field job.