Springer headed to Houston, but talks to MLB.com first
Astros first-round draft pick George Springer, who signed with the club late Monday for a $2.525 million bonus, will meet the Houston media as a group for the first time Friday when he has a press conference at Minute Maid Park before taking batting practice on the field.
This will be Springer’s second visit to Houston – the first coming earlier this month when he was in town for a few hours to undergo his physical. Prior to meeting with the media as a whole, Springer was gracious enough to grant his third interview with MLB.com since being drafted.
“I’m extremely excited to get going and move forward and 100 percent relieved that’s it’s done,” Springer said of the signing. “I can just strictly focus on playing baseball.”
Springer, 22, was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut, where he hit .343 with 12 homers, 77 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage during his junior season. The center fielder will begin his career at Tri-City, but not before spending a few days at the Astros’ Spring Training facility in Kissimmee, Fla.
“I’m just looking forward to getting in and getting started and to compete for a job,” he said.
Considering his age, his tools and the Astros’ track record of moving players quickly through the system, it’s not a stretch to think Springer could be getting his feet wet at the Major League level late next year. The Astros’ center field position has opened up substantially since the team traded Michael Bourn last month.
Instead of competing with a two-time Gold Glove winner and an All-Star, he’ll eventually be in the mix with Jason Bourgeois, Jordan Schafer, Jay Austin and Austin Wates. Springer isn’t putting any kind of timetable on his path to the Majors, but he did make one promise.
“I’m a player that will play as hard as I can possibly play day in and day out,” he said. “I like to have fun, but I will play hard and do whatever I have to do to win.”
Springer instantly becomes one of the top Minor League prospects in an Astros’ Minor League system that has been infused with young talent in the last month with the trades of Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Bourn. With talent like Springer, Jared Cosart and Jonathan Singleton leading the way, the next crop of young talent could be hitting Houston soon.
“Hopefully down the road some of these young players will hopefully be in their primes and propel the Astros to where they want to be, which is on top of the division and competitive for the foreseeable future,” Springer said.
Before Springer hung up the phone, I jokingly reminded him he wouldn’t need a jacket for his trip to Houston, which has seen 100-degree-plus temperatures for 19 consecutive days.
“That’s unbelievable,” he said.
Thank goodness for the roof.