Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In 2013, Houston Astros minor league prospect George Springer put together a season that had fans and fantasy owners salivating at the thought of him at the major league level.
We're talking .303 with 37 homers, 108 RBI and 45 stolen bases between Double- A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City. That's a combination of power and speed that is rare at any level.
So fantasy owners, this writer included, bought into the numbers and in one of my keeper leagues I called out Springer's name despite the fact he didn't make the Astros' Opening Day roster.
Springer figured to be up in the Houston outfield sometime around June 1 when the "Super Two" date had passed. (Players who qualify for Super Two status play two years at league minimum pay and four years of arbitration, rather than the usual three and three, thus many teams don't bring players up before the date due to the increased costs.)
But surprise, surprise, the Astros made the call early and Springer debuted on April 16.
The 24-year-old struggled at the beginning, batting just .170 for the first dozen games. He didn't show any power (zero homers) and not being on base it was hard to show off his speed (one steal). Springer looked overmatched, striking out 23 times in his first 15 games and posting a .467 OPS.
But the Astros stayed with their youngster, because, well, because they aren't contending this season and are playing for a few years down the road when they will need Springer to be a big part of the team.
It didn't taken long for the University of Connecticut outfielder to find his batting stroke.
Over his last 17 games, Springer is batting .303 with seven homers, 17 RBI and a 1.077 OPS. He's hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, blasted four home runs in his last three games and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he ends up as the AL Player of the Week.
The one-two punch of Jose Altuve in the leadoff spot and Springer in the No. 2 hole has become explosive and the best part of the Houston offense. In fact, both players rank in Yahoo's top-35 over the past 30 days (Altuve 11, Springer 34).
For fantasy owners who took a flier at the draft, or who were quick enough on the draw to claim him in mid-April, he's becoming a bright spot in their lineup.
Of course, we're still waiting for Springer to add speed to the equation, but in the meantime, he's showing plenty of power (OPS up 297 points since May 5).
He's only owned in 60 percent of all Yahoo leagues, so if he's available in yours ... What are you waiting for?
Another solid month of job gains over 200K expected for Feb.
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