Springer Impresses In Big League Time

Outfielder has huge day in major league camp





KISSIMMEE, Fla.—Outfielder George Springer was as cool as can be after his first big league moment, when he almost single-handedly beat the Yankees in the final innings of a spring training game—with all the starters long since departed, of course.

"It's always fun to hit one hard and then steal and help us win," said Springer, last year's first-round pick out of Connecticut.

Those two actions show just what the Astros are looking forward to from Springer, who made a lasting impression on the big league staff before heading down to minor league camp.

Springer's tools are well-rounded: a good bat, power potential and what the Astros believe are center-field capabilities on defense. He went 3-for-8 in his brief stint in the Grapefruit League, played well in center field and made one highlight-reel catch, and he was aggressive on the basepaths without being reckless.

"Springer has all the tools to be an impact big leaguer, and I think we saw an example of that," general manager Jeff Luhnow said after Springer's big performance. "That's what we've been stressing from the beginning, even though it's spring training, even though we're not expected to win that many games this year: These guys have to have an attitude that we want to win every game regardless of what's going on. That was exemplified by Springer.

"He definitely demonstrated to all of us the tool set and mindset to be an impact big leaguer, so for me it was a spectacular spring for him."

The 22-year-old Springer will likely make his full-season professional debut with either low Class A Lexington or high Class A Lancaster after a brief 5-for-28 showing last year with short-season Tri-City. The trip to major league camp was part of his $2.5 million deal. The club wanted him to be able to soak in the big league experience, and Springer believes he's done that.

SPACE SHOTS

• Righthander Angel Heredia of the Astros' Dominican Academy was suspended 50 games for testing positive for two different performance-enhancing drugs. Heredia, not considered a top prospect, has yet to play a game for the organization.

• Paul Clemens wowed in spring training with four shutout innings against the Cardinals before being sent down, with the message that he could be heard from again soon. Clemens, part of the Michael Bourn trade with the Braves, is expected to pitch in the Triple-A Oklahoma City rotation.