Astros promoting Cuban INF Gurriel to Triple-A

Astros promoting Cuban INF Gurriel to Triple-A

HOUSTON -- The Astros are sending Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to Triple-A Fresno, general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday.

Gurriel, who signed a $47.5 million contract on July 16, had been expected to make his Major League debut on Tuesday in Houston, but he struggled at the plate last week in five games for Double-A Corpus Christi. The 32-year-old went 2-for-17 (.118) with no extra-base hits and six strikeouts after going 6-for-14 (.429) with one homer and nine RBIs in four games at Class A Advanced Lancaster.

Luhnow said Gurriel should begin playing Tuesday in Fresno in a game against Omaha.

"No specific timetable for him joining our big league club, but he is getting close," Luhnow said in a text message.

The Grizzlies end their homestand on Friday before hitting the road for four games at Albuquerque. The Astros have yet to have Gurriel play a road game in any of his Minor League stops, so there's a chance he'd join Houston later this week.

Gurriel, who defected from Cuba with his younger brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a top outfield prospect, after the Caribbean Series in February, is one of Cuba's most celebrated players. He represented the country at the Olympics in 2004 and played in all three World Baseball Classic tournaments. He was part of Cuban championship teams at the Pan American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships, the International Cup and Caribbean Series.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.