Houston Astros grab Peter Gammons' man crush with 11th pick: UConn's George Springer brings "electric" bat
New Houston Astros owner-to-be Jim Crane talks about there being no quick fix when it comes to the reeling franchise. Well, the organization stayed true to that mantra in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.
Rather than jumping on a less-talented, more-big-league-sure player, the Astros went for pure talent and the chance to grab a potential future star. With the emphasis on future. And potential.
Houston took UConn outfielder George Springer with the 11th overall pick in Monday night's draft, a player who's shown both power and speed in college. MLB analyst Peter Gammons — one of the most respected voices in baseball — calls Springer's bat "electric." In fact, it's clear that Springer is one of Gammons' favorite prospects in this entire draft — which is regarded as one of the deepest drafts in years.
"His upside is huge," Gammons said of the Astros choice.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-handed bat hit .350 with 12 home runs, 76 RBI and 31 steals in 38 attempts for UConn this season. Springer is 22 years old, but the holes in his swing (he strikeouts too often) and the fact he's a cold-weather player could mean he'll need more minor league seasoning than you'd expect of a player his age.
When the Astros took Springer, Astros director of scouting Bobby Heck started giving out first bumps.
"We’re very pleased,” Heck said. “Throughout the year, (Springer) was a priority guy for us. He’s very athletic, he’s strong, he’s big and we think he has a chance to steal bases and hit home runs.
"As for his makeup, our reports say he’s off the charts, intelligence, solid family background, good teammate, good academics and the great combination of speed and power.”
Holding the worst record in the National League, and waiting for the ownership change to Crane's group to be approved, the Astros are in dire need of a talent infusion. Crane and his group consulted on the draft (though they had no official role on draft day and general manager Ed Wade ran it) and the new owner talked about building the team through the draft and player development rather than big-dollar free agents at his introductory press conference.
Springer joins Jordan Lyles — the youngest player in the Major Leagues, who has given Astros fans some hope for tomorrow — in the organization's future drive.