Springer back in the swing of things

Astros prospect goes 3-for-5, homers, collects four RBIs

By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com | July 15, 2012 9:09 PM ET

The longest hitting streak of George Springer's young professional career came to a screeching halt last Monday when he went 0-for-5. But the thing was he didn't even know about the hitting streak in the first place.

"I didn't have a clue," he said. No matter. He just started a new hot streak.

The Astros' No. 3 prospect went 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored Sunday as part of Class A Advanced Lancaster's 12-8 win over Modesto.

The JetHawks center fielder, who fell one RBI shy of his career single-game high, is 8-for-11 (.727) with five RBIs and five runs scored in his last three games following an 0-for-8 stretch in his previous two contests. Through 13 games in July, he is batting .472 with three homers, 14 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

It took until his second at-bat Sunday, however, for Springer to warm up a bit. After striking out swinging in the first inning, the right-handed slugger took left-hander Tyler Matzek deep the opposite way to right-center field for a three-run shot. The homer -- the JetHawks' first of the night after the Nuts had produced three in the first inning -- tied the game, 4-4.

"I was just looking for something I could handle," Springer said. "It was a 2-0 [fastball] away that I was just able to stay on. I was actually looking for something up, but I was able to go down and get that one and hit the other way."

Lancaster scored seven times in that second, thanks to a two-run blast by Astros' No. 10 prospect Domingo Santana. The JetHawks chased Matzek after those seven runs on seven hits and four walks over 1 2/3 innings, and the fact that his squad chased the Rockies' No. 4 prospect so quickly was a point of pride for the Houston farmhand.

"We knew he threw hard, extremely hard," Springer said. "Plus, he's got two great off-speed pitches, so we really just wanted to make him throw strikes. You can't swing off his pitches because you'll make things that much easier for him. If a pitch is there to be hit, you can't miss it because guys like him don't make many mistakes usually."

The University of Connecticut product popped out in the third before adding an RBI base hit in the fifth and a single in the seventh. He was one of seven Lancaster starters to collect a multi-hit game, including every hitter between the second and seventh spots in the lineup. But the team's No. 2 hitter believes the team's leadoff hitter, Grant Hogue (0-for-3, two walks, two runs, one steal) drives its production the most.

"Honestly, I think it all starts with Hogue," said MLB.com's No. 70 prospect. "If he's getting on base and stealing bases, it lets me take certain pitches and not have to force things as much. I really don't have to do much behind him. He just makes it easier for the three, four or five guys to hit home runs and perform well back there. If the one and two are on base, the three, four, five will follow, and that's something we do well.

Whether it's the influence of Hogue or his own pure talent, the Astros' first-round pick from the 2011 Draft has dominated Cal League pitching in his first pro season. He ranks in the top 10 on the circuit in batting average (.331, sixth), home runs (18, fourth), RBIs (68, sixth), OBP (.408, sixth) and OPS (.984, third).

Those numbers would perhaps suggest a callup to Double-A Corpus Christi before the season is up. Springer, however, insists he has some unfinished business at his current level.

"I would be excited if I do get moved up, and I would try to do whatever they need me to do to help the team win," said the Cal League All-Star. "But that's one of those things I don't control. I'm going to play my game here and keep working and making adjustments. If someone feels I'm ready, then I would be extremely fortunate to move up. But I have plenty to do here."

Santana collected his third consecutive multi-hit game and homered in his second straight as part of a 2-for-4, two-RBI night. The 19-year-old right fielder and cleanup hitter is tied with Erik Castro for the team lead in RBIs with 69.

"He's an unbelievable hitter," Springer said, "and it seems like he's really hitting his stride. ... He can do it on whatever pitch comes his way. He's extremely talented and makes it harder to pitch around me or anybody else in front of him."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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