Daniel Brewer: The Yankees eighth-round pick last season isn't a burner by any means, but he is a very good base stealer. Cut in the mold of former Mets outfielder Kevin McReynolds as a runner who is faster than he appears and one who picks his spots well when to run, Brewer averaged nearly 20 stolen bases per season over his last two years in college and finished with ten in Staten Island last season.
Seth Fortenberry: There aren't many faster players in the organization and yet his stolen base totals went from 25 in 2007 to just nine in 2008, thanks in large part to a nagging wrist injury that he didn't want to aggravate in the running game. He's one of the fastest runners in the 35-yard dash and he can be a big stolen base threat when healthy.
Jimmy Paredes: The third baseman gets lost in speed discussions since he has just eleven stolen bases in 111 career games thus far, but he is much quicker and a lot more athletic than those totals suggest. He uses his long strides to get down the line in a hurry and he has a good first-step. Once he gets more comfortable at the plate, his aggressiveness should pick up on the base paths to be a impact runner.
Jose Pirela: While his 19 stolen bases in 100 career games are a shade better, Pirela is like Paredes in that he has been focusing more of his attention to getting accustomed to professional baseball and the other aspects of his game rather than letting loose on the bases. He is very quick and a good base runner, and a lot of scouts believe he has the potential for some 30-40 stolen base seasons in his future.
Francisco Santana: Santana has some wheels, there's no doubt about it. His 19 stolen bases for DSL Yankees1 last season ranked second among all the short-season league prospects for the Yankees. But while he could place higher in this ranking statistically, how he fits into the Yankees short-term and long-term plans keeps most supporters cautiously optimistic in regards to his speed impact until he can secure a starting role in the United States.
Top Ten Speed Prospects
10) Austin Krum: Krum's stolen base totals [23 in 191 games] thus far are a bit underwhelming, as is his 66 percent success rate. However, he is one of the best hustlers around and he'd run through anybody to take the extra base. That kind of competitiveness and aggressiveness on the base paths, as well as some natural speed and agility, could allow him to become an annual 20+ stolen base threat once he finds his comfort zone offensively.
9) Mitch Hilligoss: Disappointing in nearly every facet of the game last season, the one area where Hilligoss still did well was in the running game. His stolen base totals were cut nearly in half in comparison to the year prior, but that's to expected with his batting average dropping nearly 70 points. If he can resurrect the sweet stroke he had in 2007, he could easily steal 30+ bases with his combination of aggressiveness and base running instincts.
|GETTING BETTER: Kruml should steal more bases as he gets more patient at the plate. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Ray Kruml: Kruml has big-time speed and a polished running game to boot, so much so that he has the natural talent to rank much higher on this list. However, his impatience at the plate and lower on-base percentage can be a limiting factor on his base running opportunities. If he can learn to draw more walks and get on-base more frequently, his impact could be nothing short of Brett Gardner-like in the running game.
6) Kelvin Duran: Sleeper alert! The reported top International signee in 2007 seemingly overplayed his hand in the marketplace that year and didn't sign until late last season. He is a very polished runner with top-notch speed, and he has the overall offensive potential to afford him many running opportunities in the future. He has just nine professional games to his credit thus far, but the smart money says he will be a name to know in the running game in the not-so-distant future.
6) Carmen Angelini: People down on Angelini's professional debut season overlook the fact that he still managed to swipe 17 bases in a season where he barely got on-base 30 percent of the time, all while having to learn the physical demands of playing in a 142-game season for the first time. He doesn't have elite speed, but he is quite quick and he's a natural base runner. He has the potential to put up some special stolen base seasons once he gets his offensive game clicking.
|CONSISTENT VALUE: Jackson's consistency in the running game has good value. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
3) Austin Jackson: There are quicker runners in the organization and there are certainly more polished base stealers than Jackson, but few offer the solid combination of the two, as well as an ability to get on-base consistently. He won't dazzle many with his speed, but it's more than enough to consistently steal 20-30 bases each season and it's completely bankable. You know what you're going to get from Jackson in the running game and that has a lot of value.
2) Eduardo Sosa: It didn't take Sosa long to go from reported speedster to a proven one. After signing as one of the Yankees top International signees in 2007, he quickly swiped 30 bases in just 63 games for DSL Yankees2 in his professional debut season last year. He is extremely fast with one of the better quick first-steps around, drawing comparisons to a more powerful hitting version of Brett Gardner. And the scary part is he is just now learning to pick his spots better and that could equate to a bigger running impact down the road.
1) Abraham Almonte: Like Angelini, Almonte has his share of detractors for his seemingly horrendous overall numbers last season. But just like Angelini, however, what he was able to accomplish in the running game was pretty special. He managed to finish second in the farm system in stolen bases [behind Brett Gardner] despite getting on base just 30 percent of the time! Once he learns to pace himself for an entire long season, and once he becomes a more consistent hitter throughout an entire season, the sky is the limit for him in the running game.