HOUSTON — Getting called up to the Big Leagues is always a big deal for MLB rookies, but doing it in your hometown for the team you grew up watching is even sweeter.
Just ask Houston Astros outfielder Cory Julks, who was added to the Opening Day roster this week. He could make his debut tonight when the World Series champions host the Chicago White Sox.
Julks, 27, grew up in Friendswood and went to Astros games as a kid, according to mlb.com's Jeremy Rakes.
“Being a 5-year-old playing a game, and now, being able to say I made the Opening Day roster, dream come true,” Julks told Rakes. “It’s awesome -- getting the opportunity to play for my hometown team. Watching them when I was a kid and now actually playing for them, I'm at a loss for words.”
Julks graduated from Clear Brook High School and was an eighth-round pick out of the University of Houston in 2017. He was a starter for the All-Conference team during his sophomore and junior years.
The Astros took notice when Julks launched 31 homers and drove in 89 runs last season for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. That earned him an invitation to Spring Training where he hit .275 (11-for-40) with two home runs and 12 RBIs.
“He deserved it,” manager Dusty Baker told Jakes. “He’s come a long way. It hasn’t been easy. He hit 30 home runs last year. It’s hard to take that away from him. He’s worked hard on his defense. He’s worked hard on his throwing. You prefer a left-hander, but then, that’s only a side of a plate. If you can hit, you can hit on either side. We feel he can hit.”
Rookie catcher Cesar Salazar also made the Opening Day roster. He was surprised to get the news from Baker and GM Dana Brown after the exhibition game in Sugar Land Tuesday.
“They played it cool,” Salazar told Rakes. “Dana played it very cool, then he told me that I made the roster at the end. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was in a dream.”
Last season, Salazar hit .265 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs for Sugar Land and Double-A Corpus Christi.