Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/4/12
When Jose Altuve was first promoted to the Major Leagues last season, the big curiosity was if a 5'5 player could actually stick and produce on a big league roster. Altuve had hit-and hit exceptionally well- at every level in the minor leagues, yet his size created doubt at the big-league level. In addition, while Altuve dominated at every level once he adjusted to the caliber of play, the other fly in the ointment was his distaste for taking pitches. And that tendency became evident with the Astros last year when he drew just five walks in 234 plate appearances. The kid from Venezuela displayed an ability to make consistent contact, but the lack of discipline at the plate resulted in a .297 OBP. That was not going to work so the Astros had a chat with the 21 year-old second baseman this spring about patience. Whether it was that talk or whether Altuve was eventually going to become a good hitter anyway is unknown. But the results are very well documented. Entering Friday night's game against the Cardinals at Minute Maid Altuve was batting .358, fourth best in the National League. He ranks third in the league with 34 hits and his .404 OBP ranks seventh. Altuve hasn't exactly increased his walks exponentially, but his patience at the plate is obvious. "They suggested that I be more selective," said Altuve. "They told me that would help my game a little bit. I've been working on that really hard and it; been working good right now." Altuve has also noticed that pitchers approach him differently than one year ago. "Last year they tried to pitch me up and in or really away and I was swinging and swinging," he said. "Right now they're more on the plate because they know I'm a little more selective." The season is just 25 games old, yet Altuve leads all Major League second basemen in average, hits and OBP. And he is starting to get the attention of media all around baseball. "Everywhere I go people talk a little bit about what I'm doing right now," said Altuve. But when it comes to talk that he should be a National League All-Star come July, the soft-spoken Altuve puts the brakes on that conversation: "We've played just one month. It's a little early. I don't have that in my mind right now. I want to have a good season but I want (my team to have a good season, too)." Altuve was signed by the Astros as a 17 year-old amateur free agent from Maracay, Venezuela in 2007. His family remains in that country, although a 19 year-old brother, Carlos, lives with Jose in Houston. "My family can see me on TV sometimes," said Altuve. "They're happy; they encourage me and support me. They call me almost every day and they feel good about the way I'm playing." "He trusts himself a lot," said teammate Carlos Lee about Altuve's approach at the plate. "He knows he can do it. He's exciting. He's exciting, he's fun and, honestly, being that little it makes it more exciting to see him out there."
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