For a six-game stretch to start the season, Tyler White was the hottest hitter in baseball.
The right-handed slugger hit .556 (10 for 18) with three home runs, nine RBIs, and a 1.758 on-base percentage to earn American League Player of the Week honors.
Some scouts were comparing him to Arizona Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt.
The Houston Astros were hoping they’d struck gold and that their 33rd-round pick from 2013 had developed into a major-league first baseman.
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Tyler White opened the year with the Houston Astros and was the season’s first American League Player of the Week after hitting .556 (10 for 18) with three home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.758 on-base percentage.
So why is White back in Triple-A with the Fresno Grizzlies?
“It’s pretty amazing how you go from the top to all of a sudden you’re fighting your way to stay in the lineup,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “Then you go back to the bench; then you go back to Triple-A.
“It’s such a humbling game.”
Surely, White was not going to be able to continue his torrid pace. But following the first week of the season, the 25-year-old hit just .169 (25 for 148) with four home runs.
As his production dipped, White’s playing time decreased – first as a platoon player, then a reserve.
Without a home run and generating just two RBIs in his last 18 games in the majors, White was optioned back to Fresno, where he’ll look to get back on track at the start of the week.
But White said his goal isn’t necessarily to recapture the form that earned him AL Player of the Week honors. It’s more to get back to performing as the consistent hitter who has hit .310 with a .420 on-base percentage throughout his minor-league career.
The first week, it was a great week and something I’ll never forget. But I started trying to do that all the time. … I think that’s when I kind of got away from things.
Fresno slugger Tyler White, who started the year in the majors and was the AL Player of the Week
“It’s definitely been a mental roller coaster,” White said. “Had some high ups and some low downs. Just trying to get back on an even course – like last year … being more consistent.
“That’s what kind of got away from me.”
In some ways, White believes his early success played tricks with his mind: “The first week, it was a great week and something I’ll never forget. But I started trying to do that all the time.
“I don’t know if I started thinking I could hit a bunch of home runs. But I think that’s when I kind of got away from things. And I started struggling. It was a snowball effect.”
White is the third position player to start the season with the Astros then return to the Grizzlies, joining outfielder Preston Tucker and corner infielder Matt Duffy.
9 The number of players who’ve spent time with the Fresno Grizzlies and parent club Houston Astros this season
In all, the Grizzlies have had nine position players spend time with the Astros this season, with Tony Kemp and Danny Worth still with the big-league club.
White might’ve had the hot week in the majors. But his situation is little different from the others who’ve shuffled between the majors and minors.
He’ll need to re-establish himself with the Grizzlies and put up good stats to possibly return to the majors.
“The whole key is when you get up to the big leagues … you’ve got to go up there and produce,” DeFrancesco said. “They’re trying to win. They’re try to get back in the wild card right now. There’s no time to develop and give guys opportunity.
“The pressure and the quality of pitching gets to some of these guys. Let them come back here and find their swing. And when they’re needed again, they’ll get another opportunity.”