Yesterday we looked at the top 50 outfielders, today we turn to the rest of the pack. Unlike infield positions, the outfield position is incredibly deep and you can not only find good value well into the draft but find an outfielder that emerges as a top-25 producer that can be had late in the draft.
Perhaps no outfielder is more intriguing than Astros’ prospect George Springer. The highly touted prospect can do it all but there are many questions that can get in the way of him being an elite fantasy producer this season.
First, it’s unclear if Springer will even be on the Opening Day roster. From a business standpoint, most teams prefer to wait until the Super Two deadline in June before calling up top prospects because this delays the player’s arbitration eligibility by an extra year. If this is the case, drafting Springer can be problematic if you have to use a bench spot to hold a player who’s struck in Triple-A for two months.
Second, it’s unclear if Springer can be an everyday outfielder right away. As Michael Clifford notes, the Astros acquired Dexter Fowler this offseason, LJ Hoes at the deadline last season, and also have Robbie Grossman. Chris Carter could play some outfield as well.
Third, as Michael also notes, there are few rookies that are able to immediately make an elite impact, no matter how talented.
At the same time, there is Springer’s potential. His minor league numbers are goosebump-inducing. Last season, Springer posted a .303/.411/.600 line with 37 home runs, 108 RBI, 106 runs, and 45 steals over 135 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. In his first season in 2012, Springer posted a .302/.383/.526 line with 24 home runs, 87 RBI, 109 runs, and 32 steals over 128 games split between High-A and Double-A. He’s produced at every level and has moved up quickly. A .300 hitter with 40-40 potential is the stuff of fantasy owners’ dreams.
So what can we expect from the young outfielder ranked 64th? Wil Myers comes to mind. Myers posted similar numbers in the minors, minus the steals and strikeouts. In 2013, he only played 88 games (again, because of the Super Two deal) but still posted a strong .293 average, 13 home runs, 53 RBI, 50 runs, and five steals.
Assuming that Springer’s callup is also delayed until June, numbers like that with close to 20 steals sound about right. That’s the high end. The more conservative XN Sports projections, which will be out later this week, have Springer batting .250 (high strikeouts will likely prevent him from a Myers-type average), 14 home runs, 45 RBI, 40 runs, and 15 steals.
If he is called up before that, those numbers would certainly increase but basically amount to an extra five home runs, 15 RBI, 12 runs, and five steals per every additional month played. Can he put up Yasiel Puig numbers instead? Sure, but Yasiel Puigs and Mike Trouts are few and far between. Most players, especially those with Springer’s strikeout totals, need to get acclimated to big league pitching first.
All that said, take a look at Michael Clifford’s piece for more on Springer.
Be sure to check out our outfield rankings (top 50), first base rankings and projections, second base rankings and projections, third base rankings and projections, shortstop rankings and projections, and catcher rankings and projections.
Check back tomorrow for our outfield projections.