Thursday, January 30, 2014

AB4AR's Top 5 Prospect Tools: Speed

(Courtesy of

Speed kills.  Everybody knows that.  Everybody also knows that the Yankees, year to year, aren't always the fleetest of foot on the basepaths.  They've been better in recent years than they were in the mid-2000s, but with Derek Jeter getting older, Brett Gardner possibly gone via free agency after this season, and Curtis Granderson playing for the little brother across town, the collective speed threat in their lineup could be better.  Luckily there are more than a few prospects in the system with a plus speed tool.  None of them are Billy Hamilton-esque warpaths running the bases, but they've got enough giddy-up to be major base-stealing threats in the future.

1) Mason Williams

His natural speed has always been one of, if not his greatest single tool, although he's yet to refine it and turn himself into a true dynamic base stealer.  When he does, Williams projects to be a 50+ stolen base guy at the Major League level, and that speed could also make him a higher average hitter to go along with Gold Glove-caliber range in center field.

2) Angelo Gumbs

Can burn it up on the basepaths (56-72 in MiL SB attempts) and cover a lot of ground at second base.  Speed is the one tool that hasn't slipped since Gumbs became a full-season league player.  The rest of his offensive game has a long way to go to catch up, but if he pairs a more mature hitting approach with his natural bat and foot speed, it's not outside the realm of possibilities for Gumbs to project similarly to Williams in terms of BA and SB.

3) Austin Aune

A more exaggerated version of Gumbs and Williams when it comes to hitting weaknesses, Aune has plenty of speed and athleticism to make him a potential multi-threat at the plate if the finer parts of hitting ever catch up.  He hasn't had a chance to show it off yet as he adjusts to pro ball and new positions, but the Yanks didn't give him a million bucks to keep him away from TCU because of his personality.

4) Slade Heathcott

There was a time when Heathcott could have come in at #2 on this list.  The "balls to the wall" way he plays the game and the subsequent injuries that it's caused have lessened his speed a bit, especially the offseason knee surgery.  That said, he has swiped 15 or more bases in each of the last 2 years and he can still cover ground in the outfield , so don't write his speed off just yet.

5) Abi Avelino

One of the newest members of the club, Avelino has stolen 48 bags in 54 tries in his first 2 pro seasons, and his speed on the basepaths is the greatest asset to his offensive game right now as he refines his swing and tries to unlock whatever power he has.  Even if that never comes, the speed should stay and be enough to make him a pesky on-base guy at the bottom of batting orders or a legit table setter at the top.

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