2014 Fantasy BaseballAlan HarrisonFantasy BaseballProspects

45 Prospects in 45 Days: Houston’s George Springer

Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.

For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.

Profile

Springer is a 6-3, 200 pound outfielder with more tools than Bob Vila and Tim “The Toolman” Taylor combined. The former first-round selection — the Astros selected Springer with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft — possesses the speed and power combination that could make him an interesting offensive/defensive weapon for years to come if the dominoes fall in his favor.

A silly 24/32 season between Advanced-A and Double-A in 2012 was followed by a 37/45 campaign between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Calling this a grand entrance would be the understatement of the year. This guy can do it all: steal bases, hit bombs, put folks in the stands and leap tall buildings. I was most excited about Billy Hamilton and the excitement he would bring to the ball park prior to last season. This year it’s George Springer.

Pundits

Jason Parks, Marc Hulet, John Sickels and Baseball America agree that Springer is the second-best prospect in the Houston Astros’ organization behind short stop Carlos Correa, with Keith Law of ESPN ranking him third behind Correa and pitcher Mark Appel. Additionally each of the aforementioned writers call the toolsy outfielder a top-20 overall prospect heading into 2014

An excerpt of Law’s blurb:

Springer may be a mold-breaker, a player whose raw abilities are so outsized that he can overcome contact problems that would sink almost any lesser player.

He grades out highly in all five tools, with plus power already and 70 speed once he’s underway. His swing has a ton of leverage in it, almost knocking him over at times, but his hands are so quick that he makes a lot of hard line-drive contact — when he’s not swinging and missing, which he does often, in large part because he makes no adjustment at all with two strikes.

Baseball America’s take on a potential timeline:

The Astros likely won’t have any interest in calling up Springer until after May in order to delay his arbitration clock, so he has at least two solid months to learn to drive outside pitches the other way.

Jason Parks’ looks at the year ahead:

Springer is ready for Houston, but some sources aren’t sold that his hit tool/approach will be conducive for sustainable success at the highest level, at least not right away. Springer is a more electric version of Chris Young, with similar issues with the hit tool that could limit the overall utility of the power. The defensive profile and speed will give his bat a very long leash, but if he doesn’t learn to make adjustments at the plate, especially when he’s down in the count, major league arms will exploit him at will and it could lead to a very high strikeout total.

Hulet chimes in with respect to a career outlook:

Spring has the skills to be a 20-20 or 30-30 player in his prime. Strikeouts will likely always be a part of his game, though, which will likely pull his batting average down at the big league level and prevent him from being a true five-tool threat.

Minor League Production

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2011 Astros (A-) 8 33 1 8 3 4 6.10% 6.10% 0.214 0.160 0.179 0.303 0.393 0.335 104
2012 Solar Sox (R) 21 85 4 17 14 5 15.30% 23.50% 0.314 0.348 0.286 0.412 0.600 0.448 160
2012 Astros (A+) 106 500 22 101 82 28 11.20% 26.20% 0.240 0.404 0.316 0.398 0.557 0.409 143
2012 Astros (AA) 22 81 2 8 5 4 7.40% 30.90% 0.123 0.304 0.219 0.288 0.342 0.290 77
2013 Astros (AA) 73 323 19 56 55 23 13.00% 29.70% 0.282 0.390 0.297 0.399 0.579 0.426 174
2013 Astros (AAA) 62 266 18 50 53 22 15.40% 24.40% 0.315 0.362 0.311 0.425 0.626 0.453 170

Impressive, right? A few things stick out more than most. First, a lot of what the pundits spoke about in their evaluations with regards to the speed/power combination along with the whiff rate make sense. Springer put both his speed and power on display at each level which leads us to believe it could continue at the next level. Next, despite the fact there a lot more swing-and-misses than we’d like to see, the youngster is still able to take a walk.

Projections

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 Steamer 32 131 5 17 17 6 9.10% 27.90% 0.193 0.308 0.245 0.32 0.438 0.332 110
2014 Oliver 143 600 30 85 79 30 11.30% 40.00% 0.230 0.346 0.226 0.322 0.456 0.340 115
2014 Fans (35) 103 441 17 55 62 23 10.20% 28.10% 0.205 0.327 0.254 0.340 0.459 0.349 121
2014 ZiPS 137 607 26 86 74 27 9.90% 31.10% 0.202 0.312 0.237 0.319 0.439 0.332 110

Predictions

ZiPS and Oliver appear to be a bit bullish on Springer with respect to plate appearances, but I think that’s just their style. Based on Baseball America’s notes above regarding a possible timeline, I’m not sure he’ll pick up the lumber 600 times in the bigs this season. My guess is that Springer will see 400-450 plate appearances with a 20/20 ceiling.

If by chance the Astros believe in Springer right out of the gate, he could hack his way to a 25/25 season with 150-200 strikeouts and a .260ish average. Down the road, the former Husky could be a 30/30 threat and a fixture in the annual All-Star festivities.

If you’re looking to add Springer to your draft queue this season, look to select him higher in rotisserie and head-to-head leagues as opposed to points leagues. According to FantasyPros, Springer is currently being selected as the 55th outfielder with an average ADP of 188, so target him after the 12th round of your 12-team redraft if you can’t live without him. Keeper and dynasty leaguers better break out your fake wallets, he’ll be an expensive asset to acquire.

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