It is very constructive to have dialogue, conversation, and to present varying viewpoints. With that in mind, each week I am going to ask a question of our knowledgeable staff and post their responses below. I will also be weighing in with my thoughts. I then ask you, the reader, to offer your opinion and tell us what you think.
Jarred Cosart (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
What was the most exciting development for you this season?
I’d have to say the most exciting thing this season has been the continued development of George Springer. We already knew that Springer had the tools and potential to be an excellent player, but I think what he did this season exceeded everyone’s expectations. Springer destroyed AA pitching to the tune of .297/.399/.579 and was promoted to AAA at the All-Star break. All he did in Oklahoma City was improve on all of those outstanding offensive numbers.
Springer’s speed and defensive ability has been apparent from day one – and we were hopeful that he would develop some power. Did he ever! Springer totaled 40 homers if you include the All-Star game and the playoffs. Add in the 45 stolen bases and you have a season for the ages.
Springer should bring that same kind of excitement in 2014. Only this time, it will be at the major league level.
The overall focus regarding the minor leagues has generally been on the overall success of the organization and its bigger prospects. And that is for good reason. The George Springer’s and Jarred Cosart’s of the world deserve all of the accolades they have received.
When Cosart came up to the Astros this summer, he certainly did not disappoint. If anything he pitched even better than most, if not all, expected him to. Moments like his major league debut, are what will define the Astros going forward as what we hope is a new era of winning begins.
But at the same time, we knew Cosart was going to have success, so his performance should not have come as a total surprise. What did though was the performance of Brett Oberholtzer.
And that is how you truly build a winning team. Developing players like Oberholtzer who almost come out of nowhere to have success in the majors. Now of course the jury is still out on his long term forecast, but at least for this season, that was my most exciting development. Ever since he took over, Jeff Luhnow has been stocking the farm system with prospects, and the unexpected success of Oberholtzer was a nice surprise.
Without a doubt, Cosartmas (or Jarred Cosart’s MLB debut) was the most exciting development of the season. I didn’t really know what to expect from him against the Rays, who had won 12 of their last 13 going into that game, but I can definitely say that I didn’t expect two hits over eight innings!
When his start was announced, I can honestly say that I was more enthused to watch that game than I was Opening Night (which I attended). It was exciting to know that the future was arriving!
The easy answer would be George Springer and that’s the route I’ll take. Springer’s 2013 season was the most exciting development in the last three seasons and may be the most exciting development in the next two seasons. Thirty seven home runs and 45 stolen bases is an incredible season and brought us Astros fans much excitement this year. Springer will likely open up the season as the Astros’ starting center fielder and will hopefully bring even more excitement to Astros fans next season!
The most exciting development this season for me is not at the Major League level, but that’s not to undermine some serious progress made by many players in Houston. The obvious answer is definitely, without a doubt, absolutely no contest catcher Jason Castro. Excuse me, All-Star catcher Jason Castro. There’s Brandon Barnes having a very under-the-radar stellar rookie season. That is likely because he is the same age (28) as someone like reigning World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval. But ScoutingBook.com notes the age of 27 (to begin the season) as ripe for a breakout.
But like I said, the most exciting development of the 2013 Houston Astros season for me has been the absolute baseball combo meal explosion from prospect outfielder George Springer. The 11th overall pick from the 2011 MLB Draft was ranked 37th overall entering the season by Baseball America. Springer, 23, struggled with his first taste of AA ball in 2012 hitting just .219 in 22 games but showed the combo meal (HR & SB) potential with two home runs and four stolen bases. That hinted at the ridiculous 2013 to come.
In 135 games, the third ranked Astros prospect entering the season slashed a silly .303/.411/.600 which included a .626 slugging percentage during his 62 games in AAA. To put that into perspective, Mike Trout slugged .623 in his 20 career AAA games. For good measure, Springer added 37 home runs and 45 stolen bases, as he nearly became the first ever modern era Minor Leaguer to have a 40/40 season.