Astros Minor League Review: George Springer, OF, Corpus Christi Hooks

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George Springer spent the majority of his year with the Astros high A affiliate the Lancaster JetHawks, 500 plate appearances (PA) to be exact. He was promoted to the Astros AA affiliate the Corpus Christi Hooks in the second week of August and got 81 plate appearances (PA).

Overall, Springer had a successful season batting .302/.383/.526 between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. He stole 32 bases hit 24 homeruns, 10 triples, 21 doubles and collected 158 hits overall.

In 500 PA with the JetHawks he posted a .316/.398/.557 line, stealing 28 bases, hitting 22 homeruns, 10 triples, 18 doubles and 137 hits overall. One caveat to his season is that Lancaster and the California League in general is notorious for being a high offensive park, so one has to take his offensive contributions with a grain of salt. That's not to say he won't be a very good offensive player, it just means we'll have to wait until 2013 to get a better grasp on who George Springer is as a player.

In 81 PA with the Hooks he posted a .219/.288/.342 line, stealing 4 bases, hitting two homeruns, three doubles and 16 hits overall. The caveat here is small sample size, which means there's not enough data here to make any concrete conclusions on how he'll handle the level.

Digging Deeper

Hard numbers and caveats aside we can look into his peripheral statistics to maybe get a better idea of what Springer has to offer. One of the first peripherals to jump out is his strikeout percentage which was 26.2% in Lancaster and 30.9% in Corpus Christi. For comparisons sake Mike Trout struck out only 14.2% at the Angels high A affiliate and 18.4% at their AA affiliate.

Springer's bat was considered raw coming out of college so this isn't surprising, still it's something he'll need to work on going forward. On the positive side he did walk 11.2% at Lancaster and 7.4% at Corpus Christi. An 8% walk rate is about average, so he was above average in Lancaster and about average at AA, good signs going forward.

On The Base Paths

Bill James' Speed Score rated Springer as excellent at Lancaster (8.4) and average at Corpus Christi (4.5). Springer was a very good base stealer at Lancaster nabbing 28 stolen bases while being caught only six times. That's an 82% success rate, which is well above the 75% mark you want a base stealer at.

In Corpus Christi he wasn't as good stealing four bags while being caught twice. That's a 67% success rate, and a small sample size caveat. Next year I expect that success rate to improve.

In The Outfield

This is probably the hardest aspect of Springer's game to get any information on without putting eyes on him myself. Advanced defensive metrics have not made their way into the Minor Leagues, and so we must rely on scouting reports and the flawed statistic fielding percentage, which Springer does rate good in (.993% at Lancaster and 1.000 at Corpus Christi), but tells us very little about his true defensive ability.

Talking to Greg Rajan, the Corpus Christi Caller Times beat writer for the Hooks, he said that Springer would take weird routes to balls and looked a little shaky out there, but got better as he got more time in Corpus Christi. This goes right along with some of the other scouting reports I've read on his defense.

He's still got some work to do, but overall he has a very good chance of sticking in centerfield, if not, his arm and bat should be good enough to play right field.

Personal Impressions

I traveled to Spring Training before the season began and ran into Springer on the backfields of the Astros Spring Training complex (highly recommended for away games). He looked taller than his listed 6'3" on Baseball Reference, but that could be because I'm usually around people shorter than me. He was solidly built and it looked like he had the body of a Major League player already.

Conclusion

Springer started off slow in Corpus Christi, but a majority of players usually do. He's still got some work to do offensively and defensively, but I would expect him to adjust to AA next year with the slight possibility that he makes his Major League debut towards the end of the season.

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