Corpus Christi’s George Springer has been one of the brightest stars of the Double-A Texas League in 2013. The former first-round pick (11th overall by the Astros in 2011), crushed his 13th home run of the season on Monday, a total that leads all of professional baseball. Tuesday, Springer contributed a two-for-four night to bump his average to a cool .297.
After a stellar three-year career at UConn, Springer’s next stop might just be the outfield at Minute Maid Park.
The Houston Astros are coming off a 107-loss campaign and have been baseball’s worst club over the past few years. GM Jeff Lunhow inherited a shockingly-thin farm system when he took over for the ousted Ed Wade in the Fall of 2011 but he’s gone about addressing the franchise’s foundation and so far things are going pretty well in terms of minor league development.
Luhnow joined SportsRadio 610′s MaD Radio onMonday to talk about he Astros’ struggles and his vision for the long-term.
“We had a no-hitter in Lancaster which is probably the hardest ballpark in the country to pitch well in, much less have a no-hitter. We had Domingo Santana with three home-runs in one game earlier this week. (George) Springer is leading Double A in home runs. (Jarred) Cosart, (Mike) Foltynewicz hit a 100 (mph), (with) Cosart having a good outing yesterday. There’s just so much good news coming out of the farm, and these guys are Triple A, Double A, High A. They’re not that far away and the guys that are here are getting a chance to play and prove themselves and trying to carve out a place for their spot for the future.”
The biggest take-away from Lunhow’s quote is the notion that many of the young talent in their system is “not that far away.” That’s got to be music to the ears of Astros fans. While there have been bright spots with the big club at times this year, there is also an overwhelming sense that the team is not only having to play clubs with far more experience, but with far more talent at the big league level.
The Astros have already parted ways with a pair of disappointing veterans in Rick Ankiel and Philip Humber and as the season wears on, there will be more opportunities for some of the prospects to move up and take their shot at big league competition. At already 23 years old and doing very well at Double-A, Springer seems to be at the head of the class for the possible additions to the Houston roster.
Yes, Springer strikes out a lot. He fanned 156 times in 2012 and he’s already at 46 through 32 games in 2013. He does so many other things well and does so much damage when he puts the ball in play that I doubt the strikeout rates keep him from getting a shot at the big leagues before the All-Star break. Once Houston can avoid a possible Super Two situation with Springer, which should happen by the second week of June, they’ll be no real reason not to bring him to the Show.
Springer is a true center fielder with speed and power and that speed does translate to stolen bases just as the power manifests itself not only with home runs, but with a good amount of doubles and triples as well. Springer’s contact issues certainly won’t get better versus more advanced competition, but Houston is already employing a roster full of hitter that have combined to lead the big leagues in times struck out, so what’s one more to add to the list, especially when he possesses the potential impact bat that Springer provides.