Let's take a look at 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold. Players are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade. Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues.
Without further ado, let’s find out if George Springer makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ – Quinton McCracken, the Astros' director of player development, had this to say about the prospect, "George is an exceptional five-tool talent, and even better person. He has great makeup, work ethic, off-the-chart intangibles coupled with incredible athleticism… He’s a very special player." Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – Springer racked up 317 strikeouts over the past two minor league seasons. Not many prospects can strike out over 30 % of the time and still bat over .300. Big league pitching won’t make matters easier on the prospect either. He does walk enough to keep his strikeout to walk rate around 2:1, but this is the area of concern going forward. Rating: 7 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – As mentioned above, Springer is a unique case that we don’t often see in prospects. The high batting averages, along with the big strikeout totals have scouts split on what the future might hold. If the prospect can transition to the majors without taking a major hit to his batting average, watch out. Rating: 8 out of 10.
4) Power – After hitting 24 homeruns in 2012, the 24 year-old went off in 2013 by blasting 37 long-balls. As an older prospect, it shouldn’t take long for the power to translate after arriving in the majors. There is legitimate 30 HR power in this bat. Rating: 10 out of 10.
5) Speed – Sure the power numbers are impressive. But the SB’s might take the cake. After stealing 32 bags in 2012, that total went up to 45 in 2013. Springer might not get as many opportunities to run in the majors if he is batting in the middle of the order, but there is +30 SB potential here. Rating: 10 out of 10.
6) Body – At 6’3" and 200 pounds, Springer is a physical specimen. The outfielder is capable of producing massive power while still being athletic enough to steal bases at an incredible clip. Not many prospects have the power/speed combination that Springer possesses. Rating: 10 out of 10.
7) Durability – Springer has put up two full seasons in the minors while accumulating over 1000 AB’s since being drafted with the 11th overall pick in 2011. As many clubs try to ease their top prospects into the majors, this outfielder could be the exception, ready to step in and contribute every day during the rigors of the MLB season. Rating: 10 out of 10.
8) Ceiling – After batting over .300 in his first 2 full professional seasons, while combining for 61 HR’s and 77 SB’s, it is easy to see why prospect hounds love Springer. If the plate approach improves, the outfielder is capable of becoming a 1st round fantasy option in the future. Rating: 10 out of 10.
9) Floor – While many scouts are torn on how Springer’s plate approach will play against major league pitching, the concerns are legit. If Springer can’t improve his approach, he could become a fantasy player similar to what we saw from Mike Cameron later in his career, someone capable of going 20-20, or even 25-25, but while hitting for a batting average around .240. Rating: 8 out of 10.
10) Future – The only thing keeping Springer from making the club out of spring training is the luxury the team has in waiting a few months to save the prospect’s service time from kicking in. Either way, we should see Springer surface in Houston by mid-season at the latest, ready to contribute to fantasy teams immediately. Rating: 10 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 93% - A
Future Outlook: After making a run in the minors at a 40-40 season in 2013, Springer put his name on just about every fantasy baseball break-out list this off-season. While many prospects are showing the tools to put up big numbers, Springer is already putting up those big numbers. The outfielder could hit his way into the line-up out of spring training, or management could wait to call-up the top prospect in order to delay his service time from activating. Either way, it won’t be long before we get a chance to see George Springer roaming the outfield in Houston. Expect solid HR/SB splits out of the prospect right away, as he is capable of a 20-20 season right now. But the key area of concern here is Springer’s approach at the plate. He could be a unique case capable of hitting for a high average while striking out a lot, or he could be in for a rude awakening when bringing that same approach against big league pitching. I take the high averages at the upper levels of the minor leagues as a great sign. If Springer can just manage a small drop in batting average to around the .270-to-.280 range, that would play very well with anything near 25 HR’s and 25 SB’s. Those numbers would make George Springer a top 25 overall fantasy option in the future.