George Springer Rumors
1:40pm: Springer's father explained to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he and his son met with the Ducks' GM as a contingency in case an agreement can't be reached. Returning to college is not a likely option for Springer.
12:23pm: Astros first-round draft pick George Springer may sign with the independent league Long Island Ducks, tweets @zoodig. This development is a sign that the University of Connecticut outfielder is not close to a deal with the deadline about three weeks away.
The typical bonus for the #11 pick is in the $1.8-2MM range, according to Baseball America.
George Springer credits his father - a “tremendous athlete” - for passing along the genes that prompted Baseball America to suggest that the Astros’ first round selection may be the best college athlete in this year’s draft. Springer’s mother passed along something other than athletic genes; she introduced her son to gymnastics at a young age.
“It helped me tremendously with body control and body awareness and just being able to understand my own strength,” Springer said on a conference call.
The 11th overall selection can do flips standing or on the run, but his biggest asset on the baseball field is speed. Springer plays an aggressive, energetic center field for the UConn Huskies, though he’s open to shifting to a different position if that’s what the Astros want.
Before Springer joins the Astros’ outfield, they have to sign him. The commissioner’s office has typically recommended bonuses in the $1.5-2MM range for 11th overall selections, but Springer’s college season is still underway, so he says he has a “long way to go” before negotiating a potential bonus with the Astros.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I’m still focused on helping [UConn] win.”
The draft takes place one week from today; here’s the latest as teams prepare their draft boards for next Monday...
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law projects the Pirates to select UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick, though he says they’re still seriously in on Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and high school outfielder Bubba Starling. It’s too early to rule out Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon either.
- The D’Backs could take Hultzen, UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer or high schooler Dylan Bundy third overall, according to Law.
- It looks like the Orioles will take an arm fourth overall; they have Bundy, high schooler Archie Bradley and Cole in their sights.
- If Bauer falls to the Indians, they’ll take him, according to Law.
- The Cubs “sent a small army” to watch outfielder George Springer at the Big East tournament.
- The Padres are interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes and Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray.
- The top three players on one team’s draft board are advised by agent Scott Boras, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
- Rendon's stock is down a bit because of a dip in production and injury concerns, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, but Rendon's coach at Rice, Wayne Graham, expects the third baseman to go within the top two picks.
- The Giants shouldn't (and won't) alter their draft strategy in response to Buster Posey's season-ending injury, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America in a mailbag.
With the MLB draft coming up on June 6th, let's take a look at some draft-related tidbits..
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox released Ryan Harvey, who was the 2003 1st round pick of the Cubs. The 26-year-old was trying to convert from the outfield to the mound but never found his way out of extended Spring Training with Boston.
- There's been talk of a lack of elite bats in this year's draft, but there appears to be a good amount of depth when it comes to the outfield prospects, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Mayo highlights a number of the top outfielders in the draft, including Bubba Starling, George Springer, Mikie Mahtook, and Jackie Bradley.
- More from Mayo who writes that there's a good deal of buzz around Stanford closer Chris Reed, who is seen by some scouts as a starter. Reed, it appears, will be taken somewhere in the sandwich round.
- Meanwhile, Mayo writes that two pitchers, Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson and Texas A&M right-hander John Stilson, may have hurt their stock with recent poor outings.
The buzz about the MLB draft is intensifying and understandably so - the big day is less than two weeks away. Here’s the latest:
- Baseball America presents its top 200 draft prospects. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is first on the list and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy leapfrogged UCLA righty Gerrit Cole to take the second spot on BA’s list.
- Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranks his top 100 draft-eligible players. Cole (#1), Rendon (#2) and high school outfielder Bubba Starling (#3) top his list and Bundy comes in fourth.
- Two UConn Huskies, Matt Barnes and George Springer, are gaining momentum, according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com. Cole, however, is losing momentum.
- In his latest chat, Jim Callis of Baseball America says he thinks Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray can start or become a dynamic closer.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com previews this year's draft-eligible middle infielders, starting with high schooler Francisco Lindor, an outstanding defender who can hit for average and some power.
- University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong told Mayo that he doesn't mind at all when people doubt him because of his size (he's 5'9"). Wong says he has spoken to fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino about dealing with the draft.
- White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that the White Sox should get some "pretty good players" even though their first pick is the 47th overall selection. Chicago could end up taking a position player this year, according to Laumann.
All of a sudden, the 2011 draft is just six weeks away. Here's the latest on some of the available prospects and one team's approach to the big event:
- Led by projected 2011 first rounders Matt Barnes and George Springer, Connecticut baseball is on the rise, Jim Callis writes in the latest edition of Ask BA. Click here for MLBTR’s Q&A with Springer.
- TCU left-hander Matt Purke, who has been shut down with shoulder soreness, may have to reestablish his value like Anthony Ranaudo did last summer, according to Callis. Click here for MLBTR's Q&A with Purke.
- As Callis explains, South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. may fall to the second half of the first round or the supplementary round. If Bradley falls, it will be because of his spring sruggles and tools, not simply because of his recent wrist injury.
- The Mets are allowing themselves to be greedy with the 13th overall selection this year. Paul DePodesta, the Mets' VP of player development and amateur scouting, told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets don't intend to settle with their top pick. "We want tools, skills, guys who can run and hit for power and defend. We want to be greedy. We want it all. The reality is those guys come off the board awfully quickly."
We're 41 days away from the amateur draft! The Pirates, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and Royals will lead off with the first five picks. Click here to see the entire draft order. Several of the links below require subscriptions, which we heartily recommend purchasing. Today's notes:
- ESPN's Keith Law hears that South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has a torn ligament in his wrist and could miss the rest of the spring (Twitter link). Bradley was expected to be a first round pick before the injury.
- Baseball America's John Manuel, Jim Callis, and Conor Glassey make picks for the first round - not projections, but their own preferences.
- UCLA righty Trevor Bauer is a top five candidate, writes Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, but there are concerns over his workload. Talking to ESPN's Jason A. Churchill, one assistant GM admitted he's worried about Bauer's pitch counts. He's averaged 124.5 pitches per start, according to Churchill.
- In a draft heavy on pitching, Goldstein says second baseman Kolten Wong out of Hawaii "is now getting late first round consideration."
- Connecticut outfielder George Springer has bounced back lately, perhaps enough to put him within the first ten picks, says Churchill. For more on Springer, check out Ben Nicholson-Smith's interview. Ben's other prospective draft pick interviews include Sonny Gray, Matt Purke, Danny Hultzen, and the elusive Gerrit Cole.
- Current buzz from Churchill still has Rice's Anthony Rendon going to the Mariners at #2 overall.
As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series started with three of the top college pitchers in the nation and continues today with a college position player.
Teams looking for powerful outfielders with speed to spare will be intrigued by George Springer of the UConn Huskies. The 6'4" 21-year-old has improved his draft stock dramatically since the Twins selected him in the 48th round of the 2008 draft; Springer is now a projected first round pick.
In its college baseball preview, Baseball America described Springer as one of the nation's best power hitters, who's a superb defender and a "plus-plus" runner to boot.
He hit 18 homers with 33 steals, 60 walks, 84 runs and a .491 on-base average last year, prompting ESPN.com's Keith Law to rate him second among eligible prospects last month. Law described Springer as "an athletic outfielder with an above-average arm who projects to hit and hit for power and just needs to refine his approach, especially with two strikes."
Springer started slowly and some said to ESPN that he changed his mechanics. After collecting just three hits in his first six games (22 at bats), Springer appears to have rediscovered his stroke, as his numbers are on the rise.
He spoke with MLBTR after UConn's loss to Sacred Heart today. Here's what he had to say:
Ben Nicholson-Smith - I wanted you to start by describing your game for me. I’ve seen it written up in a few different places, but I wanted to get your assessment of your overall game.
George Springer - I just go out and play as hard as I possibly can - I think that’s basically it. I just go out and play as hard as I possibly can and just let my approach and my style of game happen and just go out and put it one the line.
BNS - When you’re at your best, what might be some of the specific things that we would see from you on the field?
GS - One hundred percent - this’ll probably sound dumb - but just balls out all the time. Not playing with any fear. Not afraid to fail. I just go out and I let the game come to me - I just go out and I play as hard as I possibly can and if for some reason the game says that I have to run into a wall, I’ll run into a wall.
BNS - I’ve seen your game written up as a combination of power and speed. Do you see yourself as a power guy, or a speed guy, or somewhere in between.
GS - I see myself as a guy that can hit for power, but I don’t necessarily see myself as hitting for power [primarily]. I see myself as hitting the ball hard and however far it goes, if it stays in the ballpark, I just keep running.
BNS - Is there a major league player who you would compare yourself to as far as a guy who maybe has that gap power and occasional home run power?
GS - Well there’s actually a guy - I wouldn’t necessarily say I do things like him - but I model my game, my style of play, after him and it’s Hunter - Torii Hunter. I used to watch him play when he was in New Britain. When he was in Double-A [in 1997-8] I watched him play with the Twins. He’ll get after it. He plays without fear. He’ll run into a wall or he’ll run through a wall. He’s not just going to swing to swing, he’s going to swing hard. I think that seeing him play as a kid [influenced] who I resemble the most.
BNS - Any other major leaguers, or mostly Torii Hunter?
GS - It’s him, but one other player who has a good overall approach is Robinson Cano. He goes out and he’s basically the same way as Torii Hunter, but he’s a very, very smart hitter. There are certain situations where he doesn’t necessarily swing at a 3-0 fastball because he knows he’s going to get a 3-1 pitch to hit.
He does the small things. If you need a fly ball to score somebody, he hits a fly ball. Or if he’s got to roll one over to get someone from second to third, that’s exactly what he does.
BNS - If we were to fast forward to five years from now, which of those two guys do you think you would resemble more? Hunter or Cano?
GS - I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I’d like to say it would be a combination of both. Not afraid to fail, but at the same time being smart, being patient.
BNS - Having guys like [former UConn teammate] Mike Olt drafted last year in the first round and then [UConn pitcher] Matt Barnes, who could also go in the first round with you potentially, does that change things at all? Does that make it any easier having some guys who are going through some of the same things that you are?
GS - I can say yes and I can say no because to me Mike Olt is Mike Olt. I played with him for the last three years of his [college] career and I’ve seen him grow as a player and as a person. Yeah he’s Mike Olt and he went in the first round, but I just see him as Mike Olt and it’s who I played with for three years.
The same thing for Matt. I’ve known Matt my whole life. I’ve played with him the last six, eight years. So having them there I would say has helped, but at the same time, he’s just Mike Olt and Matt is just Matt Barnes.
BNS - You talk about Mike developing as a player and as a person at UConn. What might those [developments] be on the field for you since you started playing college ball?
GS - I’ve been taught my whole life to let the physical stuff happen. The strength, the speed, the power - let that come. But I think the biggest development in my eyes is developing the mental side of the game, which can help me go out and play if I learn about the game. And that’s something that I’ve been working on the last four or five years.
I’m not in the big leagues, so I obviously have some stuff hitting-wise and fielding-wise and baserunning-wise [to work on]. But I think the biggest thing I’ve tried to learn has been the mental side of the game.
BNS - Is that through coaches or is that through books or videos or just talking to people? How do you go about doing that?
GS - Through experience. You’ve got to learn pitch to pitch and at bat to at bat. The last three or four years, I’ve had the privilege to talk to guys and play with guys who know certain things that I wouldn’t have thought about.
Being with guys like Matt Barnes - being with Matt I can get the pitcher’s side of the game and I can learn from him what I have to do as a hitter in certain situations and learn what he’s thinking and what the other guy’s thinking and learn from my mistakes and my successes and learn from the success of my teammates. There’s always something I can learn and over the past three or four years it’s been mainly just through playing and just learning at bat to at bat and pitch to pitch, but I’ve also played with guys like Matt Barnes and [2011 draft prospect] Jackie Bradley Jr.
BNS - What about your season so far? A slow start and now it seems like you’re hitting better. How do you evaluate the season so far.
GS - So far it could obviously be better. It could obviously be worse, too. I think one of the main things for me is just to not try to do too much, to not press. Just to get in the box and play hard and swing and slow everything down and eventually they’ll start falling.
BNS - What about the draft? Last time, going in the 48th round was probably different than what you’ve experienced so far and what you’re looking ahead to.
GS - I look ahead to it as June 6th to the 9th because if I think for one second that the draft is set or anything like that that’s when I let down my team. That’s when I don’t play as hard, that’s when I don’t stay positive or get a big head and say ‘here’s the hype, here’s the potential.’
But that’s not what I’m about. I’m about the success of my team and my teammates before myself and if something happens in the draft, it’s something that I can’t focus on now because I have to help our team win.
Photo courtesy University of Connecticut athletics.