George Springer enjoyed summers on the Cape
By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com
This offseason Josh Jackson looks at some of the top prospects who prepared for professional ball by spending time in a collegiate wood bat league, considering how those summers got them ready for the Draft and future success in the Minors.
Before Astros No. 3 prospect George Springer was getting paid to flirt with a 40-40 season, he was showing off his tools for free over parts of two summers in the country’s best known and most prestigious collegiate wood bat league.
In June of 2009, Springer had just finished his freshman year at UConn, where he was the Big East Rookie of the Year. At 19, he was still young for the Cape Cod League, which is often seen as a showcase for sophomores and juniors bound for the Major League Draft.
Nonetheless, he more than held his own as a member of the Wareham Gatemen. Springer, a native of New Britain, hit .261 with a .342 OBP and was fourth in the league with 25 RBIs over 40 games. He had 12 stolen bases and three homers. If those numbers seem unimpressive, keep in mind that the Cape League tilts toward pitchers (current Yankees prospect Kyle Roller led the circuit with 10 long balls in 2009), as most of the batters are hitting with wooden bats for the first time, and in a 44-game season, short slumps affect numbers quite a bit. Springer’s campaign earned him the Silva Bigelow Award as the Gateman’s top position player. He was also the selected for the Year-End All-Star Team.
The next year, with another year at UConn under his belt, Springer was came back for 16 games with Wareham before joining USA Baseball’s collegiate team in the World University tournament. In his brief return to the Cape, he matched his previous summer’s home run total and batted .288 with a .449 OBP and seven RBIs. Keith Law named him the top Draft prospect to play in the league in 2010 and wrote, “He’s an above-average runner who can throw and play center or right field, and his power potential will profile anywhere.”
The Astros grabbed Springer with the 11th overall pick the next year, and he played in eight New York-Penn League games that season. He was only 5-for-28 in his debut season as a pro, but among those five hits he had three doubles and a homer. In 2012, his first full pro campaign, he played like what he was: somebody who’d already proven he can hit top pitching with wood.
He batted .302 with 24 homers between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi.