Lancaster outfielder George Springer
began his professional baseball career by making headlines. Last summer, the Houston Astros selected Springer with the 11th overall pick in the Draft, making him the highest player ever drafted from the University of Connecticut.
The Astros took Springer for his speed, power and defense. This season Springer has used those tools to become a California League All-Star, hitting .292 with 12 home runs, 42 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 57 games.
The Huskies may have shocked the college baseball world in 2011 by advancing to the first Super Regional tournament in school history and defeating powerhouse Clemson, but Springer's talent was clear from his freshman season. He hit well over .300 all three years for the Huskies and was the Big East Preseason Player of the Year in 2011.
Springer thrived in the Huskies' program, thanks in part to being close to his hometown in New Britain, Conn., and having his parents around for support. George II and Marie both graduated from UConn and backed their son's decision to attend the school.
"It was the right fit," Springer said. "My mom and dad said school is important, but I also had to go to a place that felt right."
Springer became a Cal League All-Star in his first season by relying on the tools that impressed scouts in his college days. At first glance, JetHawks hitting statistics could be written off as inflated numbers in a hitter's league, especially playing home games in the notoriously offensive Hangar. That's not the case for Springer.
He takes the differences in playing at home and on the road at face value and doesn't rely on a favorable ballpark to improve his numbers.
"Every ballpark plays differently," said Springer, who on May 11 homered in four consecutive at-bats during a home doubleheader. "Hitting on the road is hard because you're on the road and the pitchers understand their home ballpark, like we as hitters understand our home ballpark."
Also, as Springer said, focusing only on what Cal League hitters do is a disservice to the top-flight pitchers he faces on a daily basis.
"It is a hitter's league, but the pitching here is extremely good," he said. "You still have to hit the ball and do all the right things. You have to go out and battle each game."
Springer plays each game at full tilt, and he still feels there's room for improvement.
"I go out and play hard for the team and put my body on the line to make a big play or hit," he said. "I just go out there and play. My instincts take over. The results happen because I go out and play hard. You can't complicate the game any more than it is."
Storm brewing: Lake Elsinore outfielder Rymer Liriano is batting .408 in 11 games in June. His 12-game hitting streak ended Monday night with an 0-for-4 performance. Liriano had a four-hit night June 6 and homered June 7 against High Desert on the road. Liriano, whose season average is .303, was named as a reserve to the All-Star team on Monday.
Tough Nut: Modesto right-hander Adam Jorgenson has a 0.96 ERA over his last 10 appearances and hasn't allowed a run since May 18. Jorgensen has saved three games this month and has 29 strikeouts and two walks in 16 2/3 innings this year. He has converted 10 saves in 11 opportunities.
Closing strong: Rancho Cucamonga reliever Scott McGough has also pitched well in the closer's role for the Quakes. McGough pitched five scoreless innings over three appearances last week and allowed three hits with three strikeouts. He's a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities since he took over the role in May.