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Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: GEORGE SPRINGER OUTFIELDER HOUSTON ASTROS

                                                        Portrait of George Springer

We have gotten more than a few e-mails regarding the possible outlook and fantasy baseball value of Houston Astros prospect outfielder George Springer and since we always cater to our audience we figured now is the right time to delve in on the kid.  With the Astros once again making a run for the worst team in baseball, the future is key for the franchise to get back on track and Springer and his vast array of abilities figures to be a major part in the rebuilding process.  At only 24-years-old, Springer certainly appeared ready in 2013 to make his mark in the major leagues as he put up one of the most productive seasons of anyone on the farm by hitting an extreme 37 home runs and 45 stolen bases.  A former first round pick at 11th overall in the 2011 draft, Springer was drafted with high expectations attached to his name and he certainly delivered on that potential last season in the minors. 

In getting a bit deeper into Springer and his game, it is obvious that he has all the tools for stardom and the fantasy baseball community is rightfully excited by the power/speed combination he brings to the table.  Anyone who falls only one home run short of the hallowed 40/40 club at any level has some top notch ability and it is only a matter of time before Springer takes that talent to the Astros.  At the major league level, Springer is an instant 25 home run threat who also has an outside chance at 30.  The speed also figures to arrive right away with Springer also being an instant threat for 30 steals and maybe even 40.  Can Springer be a 40/40 guy eventually?  We don't throw that label around lightly but the ability is certainly there for him to come close. 

Despite all the glowing endorsements from above, everything is not all glowing when it comes to Springer's bat.  He has shown a poor contact rate thus far in his development with the propensity for striking out.  I draw the comparison to the New York Mets' Chris Young or the Milwaukee Brewers Carlos Gomez as guys who have terrific power/sped ability but whose penchant for striking out takes a toll on their average.  While I don't think Springer is as bad as Young and his .240 averages, he could come out of the gate and bat around .260 to .270 based on the indicators which is closer to Gomez' range.  Also playing with the awful Astros and their terrible supporting cast, Springer will see his counting runs and RBI totals suffer as well.  Finally, the trade the Astros made for Dexter Fowler during the offseason could be an indicator that they don't expect Springer to contribute right away and instead could promote him in June in order to delay his arbitration years. 

When you put everything together, George Springer has immense physical and hitting ability that will translate nicely at the next level and in fantasy baseball.  I do like Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins better though as an immediate impact prospect this season but would also make room for Springer late in the draft or perhaps earlier if it looks like he could make the roster out of camp.  The tools are there for nice contributions across the board which is something we all want out of our outfielders.  Be sure you don't forget about him in the mess that are the Astros.  Even they can't screw the kid up. 

2014 PROJECTION:  .266 21 HR 62 RBI 75 R 24 SB

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