Corpus Christi's George Springer is not one to complain about the searing temperatures he's experienced in the Texas League. Why should he? The way things are going, he may never want to cool off again.
The No. 3 prospect in the Astros system charged into the season with a hot bat that has lifted him to the top of the hitting charts. He leads the Minors with 18 home runs and is first in the Texas League with 50 RBIs, 35 extra-base hits, a .633 slugging percentage, 50 runs scored and 138 total bases.
"You just have to stay short and -- I know this going to sound dumb -- stay really simple," the right-handed Springer said of his power to all fields. "Hit the ball wherever it presents itself."
It's safe to say Springer's native Connecticut, and its dicey weather, is in his rear view mirror -- at least as far as playing baseball is concerned.
"It was always cold. It would rain or snow. I love it here," said Springer, a native of New Britain who became the University of Connecticut's highest-drafted player when the Astros took him in the first round (11th overall) in 2011.
While Springer was the one who made UConn history, nine of his Huskies teammates were also drafted that year to represent a team that reached an NCAA Super Regional for the first time.
"For me it's an honor just to represent my state, especially to represent my hometown," Springer said, forgiving the region for its sometimes unforgiving weather. "It's a great place to be from. I love it."
Springer's Huskies teammates included current pros Mike Olt with Triple-A Round Rock (Rangers), Matt Barnes with Double-A Portland (Red Sox) and Nick Ahmed with Double-A Mobile (D-backs).
"That was an experience of a lifetime. It was one of those things I won't ever forget," Springer said of his college experience. "It was good to see a bunch of guys from that area have some success."
There's still a bit of the college athlete in Springer, represented by his fast-paced approach to the game.
"From my days at school, that's how we played," said Springer, who is third in the Texas League with 18 stolen bases. "Up-tempo, fast, a lot of energy. But the most important thing for us and for me -- have fun. It's already an extremely hard game."
Springer batted .316 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs in 106 games with Class A Advanced Lancaster last season, then got his first taste of triple-digit temperatures with a promotion to Corpus Christi and hit .219 with two homers in 22 games to close out the year.
He rejoined the Hooks out of Spring Training this year and is clearly putting the knowledge he gained last season to good use.
"Last year, it was an adjustment period," he said. "With a certain number of at-bats under my belt, you understand how you're getting pitched and how the guys throw on each team. It's just one of those things where, at a certain point in time, if they make a mistake I can't miss."
Fields of dreams: Northwest Arkansas' Matt Fields homered in consecutive at-bats Saturday, completing a 3-for-4 night with four RBIs as the Naturals beat the Arkansas Travelers, 6-3. The free-swinging Fields, who has 14 homers and a league-high 79 strikeouts, tied the game at 1-1 with a homer in the fourth, then hit a three-run shot for the 4-2 lead in the fifth.
Tulsa time? The Tulsa Drillers posted their first shutout of the season Saturday, beating Springfield, 3-0, and moving within 1 ½ games of the North Division lead as starter Tim Gustafson pitched six strong innings at ONEOK Field. Tulsa won for the seventh time in 10 games to keep the heat on Arkansas and Springfield.
Winning number: Frisco's Carlos Pimentel, the league strikeout leader with 80, had his second one-hit outing, going seven innings in a 5-2 victory at Midland on Saturday. Pimentel (7-2) earned his franchise-best 22nd victory, surpassing Thomas Diamond.