Springer Could Arrive In Houston Sooner Than Expected





KISSIMMEE, Fla.—George Springer isn't just ahead of schedule. He could become the Astros' first real building block.

The 23-year-old center fielder smacked two rocket-like home runs during his first-ever spring training start, going 3-for-6 during his initial four games with seven RBIs, four runs and two walks.

Granted, Springer has never played above Double-A and the No. 11 overall pick of the 2011 draft out of Connecticut is likely to spend the majority of 2013 at Triple-A Oklahoma City. But the 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder's alluring combination of power, speed and natural instinct has Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow—who's often preached patience developing the club's top minor leaguers—considering Springer for the majors earlier than expected.

"With a prospect like George, we'll put him in the right place for him," Luhnow said. "We won't put him in a place because of five other players we're trying to shift around."

Luhnow acknowledged Springer, who hit .316/.398/.557 with high Class A Lancaster before a late-season callup to Double-A in 2012, might be best suited to begin 2013 in Corpus Christi. But if he continues to impress the Astros during spring training, the organization is open to accelerating his path with an eye on 2014.

"He'll show us when he's ready," Luhnow said.

Springer spent an interview before a spring training game against the Blue Jays saying he simply wanted to play his part on a rebuilding team featuring veterans such as Rick Ankiel and Carlos Pena. But Springer's talent soon took over. He clubbed a homer to right-center field, following it up with a three-run blast to left-center.

"He's very mature, and he knows that he belongs," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He's not here trying to figure out, 'Am I a big league player?' I think he knows he's a big league player."

Springer also acted like a proven vet as soon as his two-homer game was complete. He praised his teammates and pulled out a one-game-at-a-time quote when asked about his intriguing power.

"It's done," Springer said. "The bats happened . . . and now it's on to (the next) game."

Space Shots

• First baseman Jonathan Singleton, suspended 50 games for failing a minor league drug test, will participate in extended spring training and is expected to spend 2013 in Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Nate Freiman started spring training 5-for-15 with three RBIs. The first baseman was competing for a spot on the Astros' roster after being acquired in the 2012 Rule 5 draft.