Astros call up prospect Lance McCullers Jr. to start on Monday

Houston has called up pitching prospect Lance McCullers Jr. to start Monday's game against the Oakland A's in Houston.
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Houston has called up pitching prospect Lance McCullers Jr. to start Monday's game against the Oakland A's in Houston.

McCullers, 21, received his promotion Friday, just one day after being called up to Triple A Fresno from Double-A Corpus Christi. McCullers was 3–1 in his first four starts in AA, with a 0.62 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 29 innings (including two relief appearances).

Houston's first-round pick in 2012, McCullers is Houston's 11th-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America. Before struggling in High A ball last season, he ranked as high as 50th in Baseball America's Top 100 prospects. His father, Lance McCullers, pitched for parts of seven big-league seasons with the Padres, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers.

The righthander will take the place of Astros fifth starter Brett Oberholtzer, who was placed on the DL Thursday with a blister on his throwing hand.

Though it's unclear how long McCullers, who advanced to AA ball just this season, will remain with the big club, it appears the young pitcher has a chance to stick around if he pitches well. "He gives us a chance to win now in Houston," said Astros GM Jeffrey Luhnow.

“It’s a great day for him,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Well-earned and deserved the way he’s dominated the minor leagues so far this season. It’s going to be a good test for him … The players know he won’t be spooked. He won’t be shaken. He’ll be very excited. He’s got stuff to compete at any level. It’s a matter of maintaining his composure.”

Houston also recently promoted shortstop Carlos Correa, their top prospect, to Triple A. The Astros led the AL West with a 23–13 record entering Saturday's slate of games.

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