The Houston Astros, in large thanks due to savvy trades and draft moves, have made tremendous strides in its farm system, going from one of the weakest to one of the strongest in baseball in a matter of a few seasons. And two of the team’s top offensive prospects — George Springer and Domingo Santana — are a large reason for the farm’s meteoric climb.
Springer, the 11th pick in the draft two years ago, and Santana, acquired as part of the package for Hunter Pence, man two-thirds of Corpus Christi’s potent outfield.
Springer, 23, is hitting .302/.405/.612, showing plus-power and above-average speed; while Santana, 20, is batting .264/.358/.519 with above-average pop and solid speed. The problem with both outfielders, however, is something that could ultimately derail their vast potential: the inability to make consistent contact.
Springer has punched out in 28.4% of his plate appearances thus far, and Santana has somehow managed to top that mark with an incredible 31.9%. And what’s more concerning is both players have failed to make any noticeable progress during their respective careers.
As I wrote about Springer in January, “The real red flag, however, is the hole in his swing. He struck out 156 times in 581 plate appearances, or just under 27% of the time. He could be a star if he corrects it. Or just as easily become a fringe everyday player, depending how his defense grades out.” Admittedly, I’d probably adjust that floor to around a 3.0-win player now, but it’s nothing compared to what his potential ceiling may be.
And Santana has posted K-rates north of 28.2% during his four-year career.
Look, both of guys could very well likely become All-Star caliber players — especially the youthful Santana. But the likelihood of that happening looks modest at best, because unless they begin to adjust now big league pitchers will eat them alive.
Photo of George Springer Courtesy of Jordan Megenhardt/MLB.com