George Springer got the call. The 24-year-old outfielder is joining the Houston Astros on Wednesday, the first of their prized prospects to get a big-league call-up. From an on-the-field perspective, Springer probably should have joined the team out of spring training, but the Astros kept him down to limit his big-league service time and buy themselves another year of club control.
The Astros are calling Wednesday #SpringerDay, so obviously the expectations are huge with their new outfielder.
In The Stew's new "Learn the Name" feature, we introduce you to Springer and project what kind of player he might be.
Why you should care right now: Springer is immediately the most interesting player on the Astros, with all apologies to Jose Altuve. Springer is a five-tool player with a combination of speed and power that draws some Mike Trout comparisons. Those aren't completely warranted, but more on that later. Springer tore up the minor leagues last season. The Astros like him so much, they tried — and failed — to sign Springer to a long-term contract extension before he even played an MLB game.
Where'd he come from? Springer was a first-round pick by the Astros in the 2011 draft. He played three seasons before that at the University of Connecticut, which is about 40 miles from his hometown of New Britain, Conn.
The numbers: As we said, Springer had a heck of a 2013 season in the minors, between Double-A and Triple-A. The numbers are eye-popping: .303/.411/.600, with 37 homers, 108 RBIs and 45 stolen bases. He only played 13 games in Triple-A this season, but hit .353/.459/.647 with three homers, nine RBIs and four bases swiped. But there's one more number that is a cause for concern — 161, that's how many times Springer struck out last season. That would have ranked him 10th in MLB in 2013, tied with Justin Upton. Obviously, Springer still hit for average in the minors despite the strikeouts. He walked 82 times last season — a good number that keeps his OBP high. As he adjusts to MLB pitching, both of those will be important to watch.
Best case: Springer, if he somehow figures how not to strikeout, and maintains his power and speed numbers, could be a 40/40 threat. He could Mike Trout Lite. Having them both in the AL West for years to come would be great fun to watch.
Worst case: Springer doesn't fare as well against big-league pitching. His power numbers go down, his strikeouts stay up and his batting average dips. Instead of a Mike Trout-type player, Springer becomes an Austin Jackson/Lorenzo Cain type of player.
Will you care in a month? You certainly will. The Astros don't have a ton of star power at the moment, and Springer is the worth-the-price-of-admission type of player the club needs. Even if he struggles adjusting to the big leagues, he should be a fun player to keep an eye on this season and into the future.
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