WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—For all Billy Hamilton's speed or Xander Bogaerts' offensive potential, Astros center fielder George Springer probably had the most expansive tool set among players on either the California or Carolina league squads. The 22-year-old hits, he hits for power, he runs, he fields and he throws. Two of those tools took center stage during the all-star festivities.
As to his power, Springer launched four homers during the pre-game derby, and as to his speed, he stole second base after drawing a third-inning walk against Lynchburg righty J.R. Graham. Springer, who played the entire game in right field and went 0-for-3, also showed a feel for situational hitting by driving home Hamilton from third base—the Cal League's only run, it would turn out—with a first-inning groundball to the right side of the infield.
The 11th pick in last year's draft and highest-drafted Connecticut Husky ever, Springer knows that improvement to his feel for hitting will make the biggest difference to his profile. "I'm just working on making consistent hard contact and whatever happens happens," he said prior to the all-star game. "I just go out and play."
Good things happened for Springer during the first half, as he batted .303/.381/.559 with 14 homers and 14 stolen bases in 254 at-bats for Lancaster. He lists the JetHawks' Clear Channel Stadium, a renowned launching pad, as his favorite place to hit. "You understand the way the ball flies at home, but it's an advantage also just because it's home."
Springer has clubbed multiple homers in two different home games this season, belting three in a May 11 game versus Lake Elsinore and collecting two more in a June 14 contest against Inland Empire. "I really wasn’t trying to hit the home runs," he said of his three-homers game. "I remember one (homer) was a 2-2 changeup. I just saw it and stayed on it and wound up hitting it out to right-center. One was a backdoor slider that I ended up hitting out, and the other was a fastball. It was just one of those days where your swing feels good and you're hitting it hard."