This list is limited to players that qualify for as minor league prospects and project as potential major leaguers. Honorable Mentions are not necessarily #11, #12, etc. on the list, but are worth noting for one reason or another.
Jonathan Tucker- The scrappy Tucker knows that he has to do all the little things right to carve out a major league role. One thing he has yet to master is stealing bases, as he was only 9 for 20 at low-A Delmarva this season. His raw speed grades out to slightly above-average.
Nolan Reimold- With a thick 6-4 frame, it is a testament to Reimold’s athleticism that he has above-average speed. He stole 14 bases at high-A Fredrick and does a good job of reading pitchers. He may slow down a step as he ages and fills out more.
Kieron Pope - Pope’s speed is of the variety that manifests itself more when he is already underway. He’ll never steal a ton of bases, but he has no problem challenging outfielders when taking the extra base.
Jeff Fiorentino- Like we’ve said several times, there is no single area of Fio’s game that grades out as well above-average in the major leagues. But like almost every other facet of his game, Fio’s speed is average to a tick above.
#10 Arturo Rivas- Long a favorite of scouts, Rivas’ raw speed is one of several tools of his that grade out well. It helps him display good range in centerfield and pose as a threat on the basepaths.
#9 Paco Figueroa- When we chatted with Paco in 2006, he made it clear that he knows his role as a table-setter in the batting order. He still has work to do to improve his jumps when stealing bases, but he has come a long way making his plus speed usable.
#8 Blake Davis- In many ways, Davis is a typical shortstop prospect. Good defense, empty batting averages and, of course, lots of speed.
#7 Robert Andrews- After being drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 draft, the Orioles moved Andrews around to four different affiliates in 2006. Unfortunately, the only thing he was really able to show off was his plus range in centerfield due to his excellent speed.
#6 David Cash- Son of the O’s 2006 first base coach of the same name, Cash is a good athlete with top-of-the-line speed. The O’s shifted him to the outfield corners, but some scouts think he has the speed to handle centerfield with more experience.
#5 Pedro Florimon- Part of the criticism leveled at Florimon is that his gaudy batting average in Bluefield had something to do with the pressure his wheels puts on inexperienced defenders. Even if that’s true, it is a tribute to the shortstop’s plus plus speed.
#4 Luis Hernandez- Although you wouldn’t be able to tell from his meager stolen base totals, Hernandez is actually a very fast runner. He has a lot of work to do reading pitchers and knowing what situations are worth running in, but he’s still only 22 years old and has plenty of time to polish his game.
#3 Bobby Henson - Like Luis Hernandez, Bobby Henson did minimal damage on the basepaths in his professional debut. There’s a good reason for that- he was rarely on base. Nevertheless, no one doubts his athleticism and speed are of the highest caliber.
#2 Daniel Figueroa- The lesser-known Figueroa brother is actually the more athletic of the two. Daniel Figueroa has rarely been healthy enough to demonstrate it, but his raw speed matches nearly anyone in the minor leagues.
#1 Adam Stern - Although he isn’t the potential starting centerfielder that some thought he might grow into a few years back, Stern has several qualities that would make him an ideal bench player. In addition to being a plus defender at all three outfield positions, Stern is nearly on par with Corey Patterson on the basepaths. If he sticks with the big league club this season, expect to see Stern getting his name called whenever a pinch-runner is needed.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com