Springer approaching historic Minor League numbers
Astros outfield prospect nearing 40-40 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City
With 13 games left in the season, George Springer has already put together a season for the ages between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He is hitting .302 with 36 home runs, the most in the Minor Leagues, and 39 stolen bases, making him the first Minor Leaguer to post a 30-30 season since 2009. Springer drove in his 100th run of the season on Sunday and scored his 100th run on Tuesday.
After all the milestones Springer has achieved, with a few big ones still possible in the season's final two weeks, no one could begrudge him if he took a moment to stop and think about all he has accomplished this year.
But Springer, the Astros' No. 3 prospect and MLB.com's No. 26 overall prospect, said his sole focus is on the playoff race. Oklahoma City is leading its division by six games and has a chance to make a deep postseason run.
"We've got a good thing going down here," Springer said. "The goal is, ultimately, at the end of the day to get to the playoffs and help this team win."
Still, the rest of the baseball world has noticed what Springer has accomplished. He is the favorite to win the J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps Minor League Player of the Year. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he gets asked every day when Springer will get called up.
Luhnow answered that question publicly last week, telling reporters Springer would stay in Oklahoma City for the rest of the RedHawks' season.
"The most important thing I want everybody to focus on is he's having a great year. He's a guy that, unless something changes, is going to be in our outfield next year," Luhnow said on Friday. "All this discussion about, 'What day is he coming up?' is really not that relevant right now. What's relevant is he's a guy we're excited about, he's having a tremendous year. We're going to let him finish his year at Oklahoma City and make a determination after that as far as how much time's left and whether or not it makes sense to bring him up."
Springer said he talked with Luhnow when the general manager visited Oklahoma City last weekend.
"He just said they're happy with the season I'm having and to keep going out and playing hard," Springer said.
The decision to keep Springer in Triple-A for the rest of the season means he will have the opportunity to make Minor League history. No Minor Leaguer in at least 50 years has recorded a 40-40 season. According to the "Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract," there have been three such seasons in the Minors, but official statistics for stolen bases are difficult to come by before the 1960s.
Springer is just one stolen base away from joining Ruben Rivera and Darryl Strawberry as the only Minor Leaguers with at least 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the last 40 years.
Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco has been managing in the Minors since 1994 and said Springer has the best combination of power and speed he has seen.
"Nobody has the raw speed and talent this guy has," DeFrancesco said. "He has the potential to even go 40-40, which would be a great accomplishment if he can reach that."
Even now that he's so close, Springer said he isn't thinking about what his numbers will look like at the end of the season or what kind of milestones he is approaching. He's just content to keep playing and helping the RedHawks win as many games as possible.
"When you start the year, you don't set your goal to hit X amount of home runs or steal X amount of bases," Springer said. "It just happened that way. It shows the hard work I've put in. Everything starts to show."