2014 TigsTools: Best Speed

While the Major League club has generally lacked speed over the last few years, the Tigers minor league club is loaded with 60 and 70-grade runners that can burn around the bases and use their speed on defense. Was Austin Schotts able to retain his spot atop this list, or was he bumped off by another speed demon prospect?

Best Speed
1. OF Rashad Brown
2. OF Derek Hill
3. OF Austin Schotts
4. OF Ismael Salgado
5. OF Hector Hernandez

Brown jumps out at you with his speed in game situations. He explodes out of the box and scurries down the line in near elite times. He is still learning to harness his speed and use it to his advantage on the bases and in the field, but Brown has speed that could impact the game down the line. Hill showed similar speed to Brown during his stay in Connecticut this summer, registering consistent double-plus times down the line, and showed excellent closing speed on balls hit to the gap.

Schotts topped this list last year with his 70-grade speed, but scouts in the Midwest League this summer did not report the same burner times on a consistent basis. The raw speed is still there for Schotts, but he didn’t seem to tap into it as much as in the past. Ismael Salgado remains an intriguing player because of his athleticism and top-end speed, but his other tools and overall feel for the game will prevent him from utilizing his speed at the highest level. Hector Hernandez has shown 70-grade times in the past and he could get a chance to show that off in the States if the Tigers bring him over next spring.

Honorable Mention
OF Adrian Castano
SS Dixon Machado
IF Steven Negron

Castano and Negron play the game with a tremendous amount of hustle that allows their easy plus speed to play up and at times flash higher than that grade. Both players know how to use their speed in game situations, and the rest of their skills just need to catch up. Dixon Machado continues to show above-average to plus speed down the line and that speed is augmented in the field by exceptional instincts and a quick first step. Machado has a knack for stealing bases and is an efficient thief when he reaches first base.

Projection Kings
OF Jose Azocar
OF Cesar Gonzalez

Azocar is one of the breakout stars of the Tigers Latin American program in 2014, and he should begin displaying his plus speed in the GCL next summer. Azocar’s speed plays well in center field and while he is still learning how to get jumps on the bases, he should develop into an adept base stealer. Cesar Gonzalez is similar in some ways to Azocar, as a Latin American player loaded with tools and plus speed that plays well in center field.

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