When George Springer was selected as the 11th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, he immediately became an intriguing prospect for the Houston Astros, having ripped 46 home runs while driving in 196 runs and stealing 76 bases in his three seasons at UConn. The power and speed combination out of the center fielder was what led to his early selection, while the same skill-set is what led to his quick rise through the Houston farm system.
After just 1,264 minor league plate appearances, Springer arrived on April 16 and he has been adjusting very well to major league pitching. Since May 6 (17 games), Springer is hitting .303/.396/.682 with two doubles, one triple, seven home runs, and 17 RBI, posting a 24:9 K:BB in 76 plate appearances. Certainly, the Astros aren’t contenders this season, but Springer’s sudden offensive surge has helped the club become a threat to others in the AL West with more realistic chances of contending in 2014, going 9-8 during Springer’s spike, including a series win over the Texas Rangers.
While Springer, now the starting right fielder, has started hitting at the major league level more effectively over the last two-plus weeks, there are still concerns over his contact rates, which, even during his hot streak, have led to a 31.6 percent strikeout rate, a number that was high, 26.4 percent, during his minor league career. Encouraging, however, is that Springer has maintained a 9.3 percent walk rate, down from his 12.3 percent career minor league numbers, during his transition to the majors.
There will still be growing pains, just like any other young player, but Springer appears to be the real deal for the Astros, and he is just the first of many names of elite-level players who will be arriving in Houston and transitioning the Astros from perennial losers to perennial contenders.