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Thursday's Three Astros Things

Talking about Springer's K rate, Crane sympathizing with fans and players going back to school...

Some things to talk about while Folty becomes the best pitching prospect in the system...

1) George Springer's strikeout rate

It seems Chris and I are on the same wavelength, because he wrote an entire article about how George Springer's strikeouts are not necessarily a bad sign. I've been thinking the same thing, but we went about different ways of proving it.

While Chris looked at strikeouts and walks as a package deal, I delved into the swing data over at Minor League Central. While there is a ton more volatility in this swing data than in the major league numbers, it does give us an idea of how Springer is progressing.

Last season, Springer swung at 72.8 percent of pitches in the zone and 8 percent out of the strike zone. He made contact with 11 percent of pitches outside the zone and 71 percent inside it. He also saw a whopping 63 percent of his pitches inside the zone and swung at 74 percent of the strikes he saw.

This year, he's made progress in all of those categories, it seems. Springer is seeing fewer strikes in the zone (almost 10 percent less) and is swinging less in the zone as a result. His contact rate has stayed the same inside the zone, but he's raised his out of zone contact rate about 10 percent, while only swinging about two percent more often on pitches out of the zone. He is also swinging at slightly less strikes than he used to, seeing his swinging strike rate drop about two percent.

That shows me that despite his high K rate, he's starting to recognize pitches better and develop his approach at the plate more. If we're worried about his ability to make contact at the major league level, improvements here help allay some of those concerns.

The only piece of his advanced data on Minor League Central that is a bit negative is Springer's home run total. He's hit about the same number of outfield fly balls has he did in the rest of his minor league career, but the percentage of those turning into home runs has jumped from around 20 percent in his previous MilB career to 37 percent this year. Can you say unsustainable?

2) Crane sympathizes with fans

Jerome Solomon has a column up on the Chron's pay site. I won't snippet any of it, since it's behind the paywall, but if you find Solomon's twitter feed, you can read the column from that link.

Basically, he talked about an interview Crane did with him and his colleague on a local radio show. Crane talked about the plan, how he wanted to be a hands-off owner and how the plan is tough. He also had some interesting things to say about the cable deal, thinking that something could "break" any day now.

While I like that Crane sympathizes with fans, does that matter? Crane certainly has his ear attuned to how the fans are reacting to things, as I bet that was a big factor in bringing Larry Dierker back to the fold. But, as Drayto McLane showed, an owner too focused on fan reaction can adversely affect the future of a franchise.

What do you think? Does this help amid the losing and no-TV-watching this season?

3) Fantastic read on players going back to school

There's a great guest column up over at Baseball Prospectus that's worth reading. Dustin Palmateer looks at just how likely it is for a draftee to improve his stock by returning to or attending college in the first place. It's chock full of really interesting information and graphics, but he frames the whole thing by talking about the newest Astro, Mark Appel.

For Mark Appel, returning to school for his senior season is going to pay off. He got to complete his degree and graduate from Stanford—not a bad fallback if the baseball thing doesn’t work out. He also improved as a pitcher, stayed healthy, and is in line to make at least a couple of million more than he would have if he had signed with the Pirates last year.

What's really interesting is how college pitchers who return to school are more likely to improve their stock than anyone. That really gibes with what Chris found in his draft studies on how much safer college pitchers are to draft than college guys.

Some other brief anecdotes on some of the more drastic falls in the draft mentions Chase Davidson, who was drafted by Houston, failed to sign and got drafted the 41st round.