Highly touted prospect George Springer is making his major-league debut on Wednesday night, batting second and playing right field for the Houston Astros.
He’s the first of a group of top prospects expected to help the Astros back to respectability after three straight 100-loss seasons. But he’s trying not to put too much pressure on himself.
"I have to understand who I am as a player and I understand what I can do, and just go out there and treat this like it’s any other game … and try to help the Houston Astros win," he said.
The 24-year-old outfielder had 37 homers and 108 RBIs with 45 stolen bases combined in Double-A and Triple-A last year. He was off to a strong start in Triple-A this season, too, hitting .353 with three homers and nine RBIs.
There was a buzz around the ballpark on Wednesday with Springer’s arrival. The hashtag SpringerDay was trending on Twitter in Houston and fans were excitedly tweeting all day about his debut.
General manager Jeff Luhnow was a little giddy about Springer’s call-up, too.
"We don’t want to rest all our hopes on one player, but he’s a pretty good player and there’s more behind him," Luhnow said.
"If he does well, I think it will lift our team (which) is now struggling a little bit and lift our city’s spirits and give us hope that there’s more like him coming. That’s exciting. That’s what we’ve been working for."
Springer was selected 11th overall by the Astros out of UConn in the 2011 amateur draft. Manager Bo Porter said he will be Houston’s everyday right fielder.
"When you look at … the production in which he’s been putting up and if you look at the woes we’ve had offensively and trying to get our offense going and having a guy of his caliber that we can plug into our offense, he can definitely help," Porter said.
Springer knows people are looking for big things from him, but is careful not to get caught up in the hype.
"The goal at the end of the day isn’t about the future, it isn’t about me, it isn’t about anybody else, it’s about the Houston Astros and that’s to go out and win," he said.
His parents flew in from Connecticut to be at Wednesday’s game, and his father raved about his namesake.
"You’re going to see some pretty special things out on the field … his whole approach to the game," the elder George Springer said. "And he has a smile that’s as infectious as it is contagious, and I’m looking forward to seeing it myself because I’m a baseball fan, too."