Last season, George Springer came just shy of a 40/40 season across Double-A and Triple-A to go with an OPS of 1.010. He then went to big league camp in the spring where he stole five bags but only hit just .250 with one home run. He was then offered a contract extension before ever playing a Major League game, but turned down the extension and was sent to Triple-A. Springer felt the assignment to Oklahoma City was a result of him not signing the contract, and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Houston Astros.
Springer’s last game before making his big league debut was impressive. He had three hits, drew a walk, scored four times, and topped it off with a grand slam. The grand slam was his second home run in as many games and his third long ball on the season. He has also stolen four bags and put up an OPS of 1.106.
Springer has the combo of power and speed and easily put up the best numbers in all the minor leagues in 2013, but he was widely ranked in low-20’s on most prospect lists. Lost in his chase for 40/40 was the fact he struck out 161 times in just 135 games, and was routinely caught on out on his front foot against quality off-speed stuff.
The Astros have built an incredible system of young talent, which will only get deeper given they have the number one pick in this June’s draft, and Springer is far from the last supremely talented player that will make his debut for the club in the next year or two. If the Astros choose not to lock up Dexter Fowler for the long term, Springer could very well be the center fielder of the future, or he could move to right field where his arm will play very well.
For fantasy baseball players, or just fans of eye-popping stats, expectations should be tempered as there is likely to be a learning curve for Springer. He will destroy even the best fastballs and will certainly take advantage of any hanging breaking stuff, but he will also be carved up by premier breaking stuff. Springer has an incredibly bright future, but his strikeout rate may be a concern early on.