Springer Has Been Sprung

added 4/17/2014 by Bob Hulsey

The Astros, as a team, were hitting below .190 so Jeff Luhnow swallowed hard and played the one offense card in his deck on Wednesday. He called up outfielder George Springer.

After all the controversy over the spurned multi-year contract offer last September and the threats of union intervention (for a player not even on the 40-man roster) this spring, it took just two weeks for Luhnow to bring Springer up for his big league debut. He didn't have a choice.

Springer has been billed as the best non-pitcher in the organization and the first real wave of the promised talent haul the Astros have been promoting. The 24-year-old outfielder, a former first-round pick of Ed Wade in 2011, was the Minor League Player of the Year last season. Between AA and AAA, he produced 37 homers, 108 RBIs, 45 steals, oh and 161 strikeouts.

Not everyone was impressed (the scoreboard operator at Minute Maid welcomed him by misspelling his name "Gerorge") but this is the one guy Luhnow could call up that could jump start his horrific offense.

With Jonathan Singleton struggling to overcome his addictions, Domingo Santana too raw for the majors and Carlos Correa still two seasons away from being ready, Springer assumes the mantle of the long-awaited youth movement.

It's not quite fair to him but he's been handed a low uniform number (4) in the tradition of Craig Biggio (7) and Jeff Bagwell (5), a sign that the Astros are expecting greatness. Fans can buy their "SPRINGER" jerseys knowing he's likely to be around until 2020. He has a young, handsome face and the sort of bi-racial appearance that makes public relations people swoon. He's Justin Maxwell with far better upside.

While Jarred Cosart may have been the first real new-look Astro star to come out of the minors, he can only appear every fifth day. Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz, should they continue their success in the minors, may soon join him. But the day-to-day face of the franchise could very easily be George Springer by 2016.

Jeff Luhnow is counting on it. He doesn't have much choice.

Whether Springer is able to withstand the pressure and play with the same sort of confidence and precision he displayed in Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City, or even a reasonable facsimile of it, remains to be seen. But it all started Wednesday with a dribbler for his first hit, a base on balls, a run scored and, yes, two strikeouts.

But the scoreboard operator is now getting his name right and the hope is that when his name is spoken, he'll soon conjure up his own highlights in the minds of fans instead of thoughts of Russ Springer or Jerry Springer.

There's no turning back. The Astros' future is finally now.