MMLN: Top Tools - Speed

Every ball club needs it, not every club possesses it. Speed is one element that can change the complexion of games and provide a significant weapon to the everyday lineup or off the bench. In recent seasons, the Mets began to make speed a focus in the draft and in player development. The following players may not stack up in their complete packages, they all boast one common tool—speed.

10. Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Nieuwenhuis' speed is more of a complimentary tool than a leading one, but the outfielder's speed is what helps bring together his full complement of tools. He doesn't explode out of the box, but when fully underway Nieuwenhuis demonstrates above average foot speed and athleticism that make him a strong outfielder and an aggressive, successful base runner. He runs the bases with conviction and good instincts that allow him to take extra bases out of the box or when already on the base paths. He remains an opportunistic base stealer, but uses speed to his advantage.

9. Rafael Fernandez – Fernandez's stolen base numbers were meager in 2010, but they do not speak to his natural foot speed. He continues to impress coaches with his speed which translates going first-to-home or covering space in the outfield. Fernandez gained more strength and bulk this season which lessened his speed a couple of ticks, but his overall athleticism and speed are two of Fernandez's most attractive traits.

8. Juan Lagares – Lagares slipped off the radar the last couple of seasons, but a healthy season allowed the outfielder to get back to the strengths of his game—contact, speed and aggressiveness. Lagares was successful in 25-of-30 stolen base attempts and also generally creates havoc by putting pressure on pitchers and opposing defenses. Lagares' will not provide the big production numbers as a corner outfielder, but his speed and how it ties into his range and overall quality of defense provide a favorable mix.

7. Wilfredo Tovar – Tovar does not possess a sprinter's style of speed. Rather, Tovar is a quick, choppy runner with light feet that give him burst. Further understanding of pitchers and the running game will help his stolen base success rate (12-for-23 in 2010), but he already possesses a great first step which helps him in the field. His running style is similar to another young shortstop that bolted up the system—Ruben Tejada.

6. Cesar Puello – One wouldn't expect Puello to be such a speedster given this thick, strong build. He is a strong all-around athlete and runs with good athletic form. He excels with good burst right off the bag which led him to steal a somewhat shocking amount of bases (45) this season. Puello may not win all the foot races in camp, but he can flat out run.

5. Darrell Ceciliani – Ceciliani doesn't have the cleanest running style. It's somewhat awkward and a form you wouldn't expect from a guy who has his kind of speed, but Ceciliani can really turn it on. He puts pressure on infielders while running up the line and forces defenses to make plays by running aggressively for the extra base. He has a very good first step which will continue to make him a legit stolen base threat and makes him a plus defender in center field.

4. Chase Greene – Greene missed some time in 2010 to injury, but thankfully the injury took nothing away from his plus top end speed. His opportunities to steal bases were down this year, but the 20-year-old outfielder can hit his stride in a hurry because of a great first step. His speed gives him the ability to cover huge swaths of ground in the outfield and take three bases, with the first step and acceleration to make him a constant threat to the opposition.

3. Jordany Valdespin – Valdespin was foolishly left off last season's list but his personal breakout year came with the demonstration of his excellent athleticism and plus speed. Valdespin has a loose running form so it looks like he isn't running that fast, more like a glider, but he can get to first base in 4.0 to 4.1 seconds. He has plus top end speed while running the bases and excellent quickness defending his position.

2. Alonzo Harris – Harris' stock took a hit when he put together a subpar year in Savannah, but one tool of his that cannot be denied is his speed. He stole 18 bags in 25 opportunities, but a .270 on-base percentage this season limited his opportunities to be a game-changing base stealer. He can take extra bases without much of a challenge though still needs to harness some of his aggressiveness. It is Harris' speed and athleticism that may force him into the outfield in the near future where those traits can be maximized.

1. Tillman Pugh – Pugh, the 2010 15th round pick, missed much of his first summer after he was struck in the face by a pitch in his first at-bat. That injury limited his exposure as the perhaps the best athlete is in the system but at the "least" the fastest runner. Pugh spent 23 games in somewhat obscurity in the Gulf Coast League where he has plus range in center field and explosiveness on the base paths.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n10. Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Nieuwenhuis' speed is more of a complimentary tool than a leading one, but the outfielder's speed is what helps bring together his full complement of tools. He doesn't explode out of the box, but when fully underway Nieuwenhuis demonstrates above average foot speed and athleticism that make him a strong outfielder and an aggressive, successful base runner. He runs the bases with conviction and good instincts that allow him to take extra bases out of the box or when already on the base paths. He remains an opportunistic base stealer, but uses speed to his advantage.
\r\n
\r\n9. Rafael Fernandez – Fernandez's stolen base numbers were meager in 2010, but they do not speak to his natural foot speed. He continues to impress coaches with his speed which translates going first-to-home or covering space in the outfield. Fernandez gained more strength and bulk this season which lessened his speed a couple of ticks, but his overall athleticism and speed are two of Fernandez's most attractive traits.
\r\n
\r\n8. Juan Lagares – Lagares slipped off the radar the last couple of seasons, but a healthy season allowed the outfielder to get back to the strengths of his game—contact, speed and aggressiveness. Lagares was successful in 25-of-30 stolen base attempts and also generally creates havoc by putting pressure on pitchers and opposing defenses. Lagares' will not provide the big production numbers as a corner outfielder, but his speed and how it ties into his range and overall quality of defense provide a favorable mix.
\r\n
\r\n7. Wilfredo Tovar – Tovar does not possess a sprinter's style of speed. Rather, Tovar is a quick, choppy runner with light feet that give him burst. Further understanding of pitchers and the running game will help his stolen base success rate (12-for-23 in 2010), but he already possesses a great first step which helps him in the field. His running style is similar to another young shortstop that bolted up the system—Ruben Tejada.
\r\n
\r\n6. Cesar Puello – One wouldn't expect Puello to be such a speedster given this thick, strong build. He is a strong all-around athlete and runs with good athletic form. He excels with good burst right off the bag which led him to steal a somewhat shocking amount of bases (45) this season. Puello may not win all the foot races in camp, but he can flat out run.
\r\n
\r\n5. Darrell Ceciliani – Ceciliani doesn't have the cleanest running style. It's somewhat awkward and a form you wouldn't expect from a guy who has his kind of speed, but Ceciliani can really turn it on. He puts pressure on infielders while running up the line and forces defenses to make plays by running aggressively for the extra base. He has a very good first step which will continue to make him a legit stolen base threat and makes him a plus defender in center field.
\r\n
\r\n4. Chase Greene – Greene missed some time in 2010 to injury, but thankfully the injury took nothing away from his plus top end speed. His opportunities to steal bases were down this year, but the 20-year-old outfielder can hit his stride in a hurry because of a great first step. His speed gives him the ability to cover huge swaths of ground in the outfield and take three bases, with the first step and acceleration to make him a constant threat to the opposition.
\r\n
\r\n3. Jordany Valdespin – Valdespin was foolishly left off last season's list but his personal breakout year came with the demonstration of his excellent athleticism and plus speed. Valdespin has a loose running form so it looks like he isn't running that fast, more like a glider, but he can get to first base in 4.0 to 4.1 seconds. He has plus top end speed while running the bases and excellent quickness defending his position.
\r\n
\r\n2. Alonzo Harris – Harris' stock took a hit when he put together a subpar year in Savannah, but one tool of his that cannot be denied is his speed. He stole 18 bags in 25 opportunities, but a .270 on-base percentage this season limited his opportunities to be a game-changing base stealer. He can take extra bases without much of a challenge though still needs to harness some of his aggressiveness. It is Harris' speed and athleticism that may force him into the outfield in the near future where those traits can be maximized.
\r\n
\r\n1. Tillman Pugh – Pugh, the 2010 15th round pick, missed much of his first summer after he was struck in the face by a pitch in his first at-bat. That injury limited his exposure as the perhaps the best athlete is in the system but at the \"least\" the fastest runner. Pugh spent 23 games in somewhat obscurity in the Gulf Coast League where he has plus range in center field and explosiveness on the base paths.
\r\n
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