HOUSTON -- George Springer, the Astros' first-round Draft pick in 2011 out of the University of Connecticut, has played more baseball this year than he could have imagined. And he's not about to complain about the extra workload.
He got 506 at-bats in his first full Minor League season and entered Wednesday with 47 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. The 23-year-old outfielder is one of the Astros' most promising prospects and figures to be knocking at the door of the Major Leagues, perhaps as soon as late next season. He was hitting .234 with one homer and eight RBIs for the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL with a .400 on-base percentage.
"It's been fun," Springer said. "It's an everyday experience. We're playing against the top guys from every organization, and you try to go out and play hard and have fun."
A center fielder by trade, Springer has played some right field and left field, but his athleticism suits him more in center. He's one of the most talented players in Houston's improving system, boasting a strong arm and plus speed, and he could also blossom into more power.
Springer was a California League All-Star this year after hitting .316 with 10 triples, 22 homers, 82 RBIs and 28 stolen bases at Class A Lancaster. He got his feet wet with Double-A Corpus Christi and batted .219 with two homers and five RBIs in 22 games.
The increase in competitiveness was a good test for Springer, not only in Corpus Christi, but in the AFL.
"It's really competitive," he said. "You think it's a long year and might get some guys who are getting tired, but day in and day out, every guy goes out and plays hard. You can tell who that is and each team has each organization's [top] guys and they are extremely talented. You go out and you play and you learn how you stack up against everybody else."
Springer's time in Arizona isn't as much about putting up impressive numbers as it is gauging himself against stiffer competition, getting more comfortable with his tools and his environment.
"I'm working on slowing everything down and getting the feel for who you could potentially face in the future at high levels or in the same league next year," he said.
On Saturday, Springer and fellow Astros prospects Jonathan Singleton (first base) and Jarred Cosart (starting pitcher) played in the AFL's Rising Stars Game, something Springer doesn't take lightly.
"There's a lot of other people who would prefer to be in my shoes," he said. "It's a blessing to go out there and play and have fun with Jon and everybody. I play a sport. It's something that's incredible."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.