Inside Pitch continues its predictions, this time focusing on individual benchmarks we believe…
Top Ten Speed Prospects
9. Joe Holden: The Savannah outfielder is a determined player who doubles up his natural tools with a steely determination to do what it takes to succeed. While his speed has been a tremendous boost for his outfield defense, his success ratio on the base paths was not ideal for someone with his wheels. However, that changed last season as he swiped 19 bases in 22 attempts, a vast improvement over the 71 percent ratio he attained coming into the 2007 season. Moving forward, to truly use his speed as a weapon, he will need to continue the rise in playing time he has received the last two seasons.
8. Daniel Stegall: The outfielder's stolen base success will be determined by his ability to get on base more often. His .324 on-base percentage in 2006 and .288 on-base percentage in 2007 seriously hindered his chances to flex his terrific natural speed on the bases. A former two-sport star, Stegall has the speed to hang with any prospect in the organization, but his lack of offense will lower his chances at making the most of his it.
7. Raul Reyes: What Reyes can do offensively is cemented by his ability to cover huge amounts of real estate in the outfield and his skill of stealing and taking extra bases after contact. He has swiped just 12 bases in 20 attempts over the last two seasons, but those numbers should increase as he improves his on-base percentage. Reyes boasts terrific natural power which could hinder his stolen base numbers over the long term, but that does not take away from the fact that his speed can be a significant weapon.
6. Ezequiel Carrera: The outfielder's stock quickly rose this season in large part to his growth at the plate, but his speed is a large contributing factor to what makes Carrera a well-round ballplayer despite the lack of true power. He holds a career 72 percent stolen base success rate, but in 2007 alone, he swiped 22 bags in 28 attempts. The ability to steal will always be a leading characteristic to Carrera's game because he is a true contact hitter who likes to spray the ball around the field for singles and doubles. It is that speed which will allow to him remain a leadoff hitter as he moves up the system.
5. Ambiorix Concepcion: In previous seasons, Concepcion would have ranked higher than this slot, but his dip in production and lowered stock caused him to drop a few spots. The outfielder has the tools to be a dynamic player for the Mets, but his success starts with consistency at the plate, a trait which has decreased over the last two seasons. He still has the tools to be a weapon on the base paths noted by his 72 percent success rate the last two seasons, but he needs to get his offense back on track to take advantage of his speed.
4. Hector Pellot: Pellot's inability to get on base during the 2006 season in which he hit .189 put a significant damper on his chances to utilize his speed. However, with enormous growth in his offense last season, Pellot was able to shine on the base paths as he swiped 35 bases in 52 chances. Though the percentage was not ideal, that number should increase as Pellot improves on his mechanics and knowledge of stealing bases. His failures were a reflection his timing rather than his speed..
3. Emmanuel Garcia: Garcia remains atop the this leaderboard in large part to his ability to rack up raw numbers when it comes to stolen bases. Although his success ratio dipped from 79 percent to 72 percent from 2006 to this past season, he did swipe a career-high 34 bases. It should be noted that Garcia attained such success despite a career-low batting average [.256] with St. Lucie last season. He compiled just 17 extra-base hits out of his 125 hits last season which may have been a contributing factor to that stolen base number. Nonetheless, the Mets would be willing to take a slight decrease in his steals if it meant getting his bat going at a higher clip.
2. Greg Veloz: In just two seasons, Veloz has proven himself to be a lethal weapon on the base paths. In 195 career games across the Dominican Summer League, Kingsport and Savannah, he has achieved a 78 percent success ratio as he stole 28 bases and 33 bases respectively over the past two seasons. Although he struggled at times with the bat in 2007, he was still able to make the most of his opportunities while on base creating the promise that once he raises his batting average and on-base percentage, the sky may be the limit for how dangerous he can be once on base. His offense still has a ways to go, but at the very least the Mets know the 19-year-old has one skill to hang his hat on.
1. Anderson Hernandez: Hernandez's offense did not come on strong until the second half of the 2007 season which limited his stolen base numbers, but that does not the diminish the fact that his plus-speed makes him a threat whether his on first base or in the batter's box. Although he has achieved just a 68 percent success ratio over the last two seasons [31-for-45], he has the tools to be a force on the bases if only his offense would afford him such opportunities. Although he finished the 2007 at .301, it may take him hitting that mark over the course of a full season for the true value of his speed to come to fruition.
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