Sometimes in life, things just work out; everyone has a plan of where their life will take them. There may be Plan A’s and Plan B’s, but every now and then, things just work themselves out. Houston Astros prospect Corey Julks saw his plan work out just as imagined to this point.
Back in the summer of 2017, the Astros used their eight-round pick on an outfielder from the University of Houston, Julks. He was born and raised in the Houston area, attending Clear Brook High School before playing college baseball for the Cougars.
“Getting drafted itself was a blessing, but it being my hometown team made it that much better,” Julks said. “I enjoyed playing college ball in the area because I could play in front of my hometown friends and family,” he added. Julks also got to play games in Sugar Land in 2022, just down the road from where he went to school.
Corey has been primarily an outfielder throughout his college and professional days, but this year, the Astros wanted to add versatility to his game. He ended up playing in 49 games at third base, easily the most of his career, collegiately or professionally.
“Throughout the season, I got more and more comfortable playing in the infield,” Julks said. “Once I was able to trust my preparation and abilities, it started to become more natural, and I felt pretty solid there.”
Versatility has been huge for the Astros. We have seen them transition prospects to add more positions. Positional flexibility helped David Hensley get a call-up and be a piece to the World Series winning team. Being comfortable with that flexibility is important, and while Julks feels most comfortable in the outfield currently, he also noted his excitement to continue working in the infield and see his own growth.
This may sound obvious, but being able to make in-season adjustments are key to development in prospects. In 36 games from May 5-June 27, 2021, Julks hit two home runs in Double-A. He went down to West Palm Beach, Florida, for about a month, and when he came back, he was a different hitter. During a 38-game stretch following his work down at the Astros’ spring training complex, he connected on 12 homers in just 162 at-bats. He followed that up in 2022 by leading the Astros minor-league system in homers with 31 in 130 games.
“I found a way to get my legs more involved into my swing and cleaned up my direction which allowed me to drive the baseball to all parts of the field and with more power,” Julks said about his swing adjustments.
And just for reference, Julks hit 29 homers in his first 349 minor-league games.
The Astros recently announced their spring training non-roster invitees. These invites are typically reserved for players who are close to making the 40-man roster and have a chance to contribute, and Julks was invited for a consecutive year.
“I was excited to get invited again to spring training. I got to see how the Big Leaguers go about their business and how they carry themselves at the field,” Julks said. “I noticed they really focused on the small details, and I feel that it helped me be successful during the season”
Julks’ expectations are simple for 2023; they remain the same every year.
“I strive to be the best version of myself and to grow as an overall player,” Julks said.
With the progress he made at the plate and the versatility his picked up in the field combined with his work ethic, Julks has a realistic chance to show what he can do at the Big League level in 2023.
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