After he became the first UCONN Husky to win honors as BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 2009, setting the school’s single-season homerun record with 16 bombs, outfielder George Springer followed up with an even better campaign in ’10. He lead the Huskies in on-base percentage (.373) and he set the program’s single-season marks in runs scored (84) and walks (60). As a junior this past season, after a slow start, Springer finished his UCONN career appropriately by breaking school records for career home runs (45) and runs scored (209).
Prior to his accolade-filled career playing for UCONN, Springer was already an intriguing prospect as a two-way star at Avon Old Farms high school in Connecticut. Two-time All-New England, after Springer won an AAU National Championship in ’08 he was drafted by the Twins. His all-out, hustling style of play, 90 mph arm strength, game speed make him a potential star big league centerfielder.
One of the top athletes in this year’s draft, George Springer offers five-tool ability at a premium position (center field). While he hold’s Husky records in a couple of offensive categories, the best aspect of his game lays on the defensive side of the ball. In centerfield, he flashes Gold Glove potential. He uses his plus wheels, and his fantastic awareness and body control to cover ground and make outs from gap to gap. While he isn’t a burner, he carries the speed he uses to run a 6.8 second 60 yard dash over to game day. He’s a great leaper and should be threat to make diving catches and to scale outfield walls. He has the arm strength to hit 90 mph on a radar gun and his throws have good carry and are generally accurate. He’s compared himself to Torii Hunter– a player he used to watch at New Britain Rock Cats games– and he has the tools to be a similar centerfielder.
At the plate, Springer uses his strong wrists and legs to generate above-average power– flashing plus to his pull side. He employs his entire upper-body and core to add strength to his explosive swing. He accelerates the bat through the zone with nice bat speed and drives the ball with authority. He has immense hand-eye coordination and he generates good bat speed with his strong hands and wrists. He makes loud contact and his swing strength should certainly transfer above average—or plus—power to wood bats and to professional baseball. Using a wood bat in the Cape Cod League last summer, Springer hit .288 and belted 3 homeruns in 16 games. While his cut is a bit on the long side, he’s shown the ability to make good adjustments to offspeed stuff and drive the ball to the opposite field.
On the bases, Springer doesn’t have impact wheels but he gets every bit out of his plus speed and his athleticism helps him efficiently swipe bags. While he isn’t a quick-twitch athlete, he uses his powerful legs to generate great drive and he accelerates to his top gear before many faster/quicker runners. He has solid instincts, makes good reads and generally gets good jumps. He’s stolen 72 bases in 84 attempts throughout his college career, good for an impressive 85% success rate. He’s an aggressive-yet-savvy baserunner and he should be a solid stolen base threat– swiping around 20 bags annually– in advanced professional baseball. While he’s explosive out of the box, he’s a controlled runner and can glide around the bases on extra base hits. His quickness and baserunning instincts should also make him an impact-level weapon going first-third and scoring runs.
While Springer has a very patient approach at the plate, he has plenty of swing-and-miss in his game. Though his strong wrists afford him good bat speed, his swing is a bit long and he doesn’t have great bat-control. He’s more than quick enough to catch up to premium heat but his big cuts will make it difficult for him to square up power stuff on the inner half of the plate. Strikeouts will always be an issue for him, and he’ll need to polish his approach if he wants to be a younger version of Torii Hunter.
In terms of tools and overall physical appearance, Springer looks very similar to Blue Jays prospect Anthony Gose; However, Springer is far more polished. He’ll offer a big league-caliber glove in centerfield, good speed on the bases and 20 homerun power despite high strikeout rates and a mediocre batting average. While his ceiling holds plenty of star power he’ll probably fall a bit short of the second-coming of Torii Hunter. He’s a solid bet to be a Mike Cameron-type though and a team in need of good outfielder defense and some flashy tools will be quick to grab him on draft day.