If George Springer has a big year in 2014, he'll certainly give us more pictures to choose from. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch: George Springer

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It’s been over a decade since the Houston Astros have had a prospect as talented and highly rated as George Springer. You would have to go all the way back to 2001 with the debut of pitcher Roy Oswalt.

To find a hitting prospect of Springer’s acclaim from the Astros farm system, you’d have to go back to the days when the Houston Astrodome was in existence when Lance Berkman made his debut in 1999 out of Rice University after winning the National College Player Of The Year.

The top-level player development drought the Houston Astros have sustained for the past decade will come to an end when George Springer makes his debut in the Houston Astros outfield sometime in the 2014 season.

Saying 2013 was a breakout year for Springer is a major understatement. He was the MVP of the Texas League after playing just 73 games. He slashed at .297/.399/.579 with 19 homers and 23 stolen bases, earning him a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The promotion came after he won the Texas League All Star Game MVP award.

The hit show continued at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Amassing a stat line of .311/.425/.626 with 18 homeruns and 22 stolen bases. His combined stat line between Double-A and Triple-A was among the very best at any professional level. 

 
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
AA-AAA5881063710845.304

Springer has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. He can arrive in Houston anytime between April and June. Houston needs all of the offensive help it can get after finishing next to last in the American League in runs scored. The Houston Astros don’t have plans on him sitting on the bench at the Major League level, either. If he doesn’t make the team out of spring training, you will see him in a starting role in either May or an early June call up.

Now the question about Springer is what outfield position he will play in Houston. As luck would have it, he can play all three outfield positions. With the acquisition of Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies to play center field, George Springer could wind up in left or right field with him filling in for Fowler when he needs rest from manning center field.

Even though he was a .300 hitter in the minor leagues, I see him hitting between .270 and .285 at the major league level. After his first full season you will see his batting average climb with some adjustments made once he gets use to the pitching.

He still has some holes in his swing that pitchers will learn how to exploit once he gets a couple of months worth of at-bats around the American League.

Striking out is the biggest problem with his swing as with most power hitters. He struck out 161 times, while walking 83 times in 588 at-bats last season, giving him (roughly) a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Astros would like to see his strikeout rate drop, but this will take time as he adjusts to quality pitching.

If he is called up by May, Springer will have a chance to put up numbers that would get him close to a 20/20 season. If this happens expect him to contend for Rookie Of The Year honors. Yes, he is more than capable of putting that kind of season together in his first year.

I think expectations should be tempered and expect him to put up a 15 home run, 15 stolen base season for your fantasy team in 2014.

On draft day, I don’t believe he will be under drafted because he plays for the Houston Astros. He is likely to be a hot name on draft day, especially if he is having a great spring. You will probably have to overpay to get him, but it will be a calculated risk that can pay off huge for your team in 2014. I would not wait and try to pluck him off of the waiver wire in early spring if he doesn’t make the opening day roster.

It is not out of the realm of reason for George Springer to have a huge season out of the gate. If this scenario plays out everyone will be reading fantasy baseball pieces asking, how everyone missed out on drafting George Springer. Don’t be one of those people. Get in on him early and be the envy of your league as he compiles stats to propel your team to a championship in 2014.

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Tags: George Springer Houston Astros

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