In baseball, 40-40 players are rare. Players who are able to accomplish this task are among the game’s elite. Only Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano have belted 40 homeruns and swiped 40 bases in the same season.
Last summer, while he did not reach this feat, top Astros’ prospect George Springer came awfully close. While playing in both AA and AAA, George Springer hit 37 homeruns and stole 45 bases. When most of the minor league focus was on other stars, Springer (who is currently rated as the fifth best outfield prospect by MLB.com) outperformed them all.
Since being selected as the 11th pick of the 2011 draft, Springer has proven that he can hit. In just 271 minor league games, Springer is a career .299 hitter who has mashed 62 homeruns. While he has great hands, his strong on-base percentage has shown that he is patient enough to draw walks. Former scout Bernie Pleskoff raves about his “strong wrists and his ability to drive the ball into the gaps.” He also stated how he “simply attacks pitches that are in the strike-zone.”
The only negative in his game offensively his strikeout rate. He has struck out once every 3.2 at bats in his career. If he continues to work his patient approach, his strikeout numbers should continue to decline. After his call-up to AAA, Springer’s strikeout-walk ratio was much lower. With a bat like this, he could be an ideal threat in the heart of the Astros’ lineup for the next decade.
But, Springer is not just a one dimensional player. Pleskoff also states that he has a glove that could “become Gold Glove caliber…and he is centerfielder who takes direct routes and has an above average arm.” Playing in the spacious centerfield of Minutemaid Park, Springer will be able to use his gazelle-like speed and cannon-like arm to his advantage. Throughout his minor league career he has only had three errors and has he been able to mow down ten runners who dared to run on his arm.
The immediate future in Houston may be bleak. The team has struggled to crawl out of the cellar for years. But the extended future looks very bright. While he may not make the club out of camp, Springer possess all the tools to be an all-star caliber player on a team that needs star-power. 40-40 players don’t come around very often, but with his enormous skill-set, George Springer could be that special player.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference
Reference: Springer’s Strong Skills Spring to Life Early in his Career