Springer, DeShields show off their speed

Springer, DeShields show off their speed

LAKELAND, Fla. -- It is certainly well-documented how deep the Astros farm system is, but the organization has also made an effort to become more athletic.

That was on display Friday against the Braves, when outfielders George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr. -- two of Houston's top prospects -- came into the game as pinch-runners in the fifth and immediately stole two bases.

Springer, who stole 45 bases combined between Double-A and Triple-A last year, added another stolen base later in the game. DeShields stole 101 bases in 2012 at Class A Lancaster.

"We have athletic guys," manager Bo Porter said. "We are encouraging them to use their ability to put us in better run-scoring opportunities. Given the situations, they understand when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive. I think [Friday] was a perfect example of taking advantage of situations where we could be aggressive and using their ability to make things happen."

Porter sets an aggressive tone and tells the players, even those who likely don't have a realistic shot to make the Opening Day roster, to push the envelope.

"Let me tell you something, you can sit here today and think that you're going to Double-A, Triple-A or whatever and fast-forward three, four, five weeks from now, or two weeks into the season, you could find yourself in the big leagues," Porter said. "I've always said to these guys, 'You prepare each and every day. You have to be it before you are it. You have to prepare like you're going to play in the Major Leagues each and every day.'"

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.