Tool Time: Best Baserunner

Instincts, aggression and ability – baserunning is more than just all-out speed. It takes a special prospect to identify the keys and react quickly to take an extra base, steal a bag, and create havoc on the paths. These San Diego Padres' prospects have those key attributes.

1. Javis Diaz

No one uses his speed as well as Diaz on the basepaths. While it is a joy to watch Diaz go from first to third, the true barometer of his success is in how well he gets down the line after his bat touches the ball.

Diaz has great first step quickness and is at full speed before the ball gets far. It allows him to beat out more than a few infield hits. Diaz has a 75.4 percent success rate on stolen bases in his career but has improved significantly since he began his career in the Venezuelan Summer League.

2. Juan Ciriaco

Armed with plus speed, Ciriaco is still in the process of learning to utilize it, particularly on stolen base attempts. But his ability to bounce out of the box gives him quite a few infield hits.

Also, Ciriaco is a threat for two and more each time the ball reaches the outfield and can turn a double into a triple quickly, evidenced by his 15 triples over the last four years.

3. Yordany Ramirez

Give him an open running lane and he is sliding into a bag without much fight. He has a 83.6 percent stolen base percentage and smartly reads pitchers and does not get caught leaning.

Ramirez' biggest problem has been getting on base consistently to make use of his above average speed. When the stroke is working he stretches singles into two and doubles into trhee-baggers.

4. Josh Howard

With an aggressive attitude, Howard will take off and run on just about anybody. His ability to sense a fielder lollygagging to the ball is unparalleled.

As a singles hitter, Howard must use his speed on balls not being cutoff properly in the gaps to take the extra base and his aggressive nature is a spark to any offense.

5. Will Venable

He doesn't have the speed of other players on the list, but Venable makes up for it with smarts and guile.

He reads pitchers well and has a firm understanding of their tricks. As soon as a move is made towards the dish, he is off and running – often making a pitcher pay for their indiscretion.

Also in consideration (alphabetical):

Mike Baxter
There may be no better runner from home plate to third base – he keeps his speed at its zenith throughout.

Brett Dowdy
Because of his role as a utility player, Dowdy does not get as much playing time to showcase his skills. He would be higher on the list if he did.

Luis Durango
Still raw in his approach on the bases, Durango could jump to the top of the list – and soon.

Mike Epping
In his one year in the system, Epping showed he understands the different keys to a pitcher and can take advantage of their mistakes.

Cedric Hunter
Not blessed with the best speed, he is smart and instinctual – getting every ounce out of his legs.


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