Prospect Report: Is The Astros’ George Springer The Next Drew Stubbs?

There are few true five-tool prospects in professional baseball, but the Astros’ George Springer has a chance to be one. I say a chance, because there is one glaring hole in his game that needs to be improved if he wants to develop into a top Major League player.

The problem may not be obvious, when you see that he hit .316 in 433 AB at High-A ball last season before being promoted to Double-A. However, the issues presented themselves there, as he hit .219 in 73 AB. The problem is his ability to make consistent contact, something he has failed to do in the minor leagues:

  • High-A – 26.2%
  • Double-A – 30.9%

Playing in the Arizone Fall League, things haven’t gotten much better as he struck out 20 times over 70 AB. The Single-A average was obviously misleading, considering his .404 BABIP. While he does have the potential to carry a higher tha normal BABIP, that number is obviously skewed.

The fact is that Springer has speed (32 stolen bases in 40 attempts) and drives the ball with authority. Last season he finished with 55 extra base hits (21 doubles, 10 triples and 24 home runs) and added 11 more in the AFL (4 doubles, 3 triples and 4 home runs).

There is no arguing the skill set. Baseball Amerca, who recently ranked him as the Astros third best prospect, described him by saying:

“Springer is a true power-speed threat. His strong, quick hands generate tremendous whip and bat speed, giving him power to all fields. He doesn’t have to cheat to drive the ball, but he does leak out with his front side at times, leading to strikeouts. He tends to play too fast, though scouts think he’ll adjust with experience.”

Most of that you can see just by looking at the numbers. The question is if he can improve with more experience and against upper level competition. Thus far, he hasn’t shown it.

Given his obvious talent, what is the worst case scenario we are talking about? Could he develop int the next Drew Stubbs? That certainly wouldn’t be a bad floor, would it?

At High-A ball Stubbs hit .261 with 5 HR and 27 SB in 303 AB. He also posted a 22.9% strikeout rate and a 14.0% walk rate (Springer was at 11.2%). When Stubbs played at the level he was 23, close enough to Springer’s 22.

So, what can we draw from this? Stubbs appeared to be a little bit further along at the plate, showing a better eye and slightly better ability to make contact. Stubbs followed it up wit a promotion to Duble-A, where he posted a 19.8% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate over 92 AB.

Tnat is what has to be concerning when it comes to Springer. While he clearly is more advanced in the power department, his inability to make contact is alarming. Unless he shows progress early on this season he as the potential to actually hit worse then Stubbs. Just imagine him posting a 30-35% strikeout rate… Not impossible given hs production at the lower levels (especially when compared to Stubbs, who has a career Major League strikeout rate of 29.3%).

Does this comparison mean I would ignore Springer? Absolutely not, as the power/speed skill set is way to impressive. Moving to the AL things get even more promising, as the Astros are in desperate need of another bat in their lineup. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach the Majors this season, though probably late in the year. If he can mature and make contact, the sky is the limit. At worst, he is a better version of Stubbs, just with less of an average. At best? He’s an All Star. Time will tell…

What are your thoughts of Springer?  Is he a player you see potential in?  Why or why not?

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