Overpaying for stolen bases can put your fantasy baseball team behind. It's
safer to target late-round speed sources. If they underperform in other categories,
they won't hurt fantasy baseball players. Look for both pure speed
demons and moderate threats that can chip in gradually with playing time.
Drew Stubbs, OF, Cincinnati
Many players competed for Cincy's left-field job, and two infield
prospects are possibilities down the road. Stubbs, though, has to play his way out
of center. Observers remain critical of his substandard plate discipline, but
he hits liners and has succeeded at every level.
Stubbs will probably have to sacrifice some of the little pop he has to get
on base, and his average was merely adequate at Triple-A Louisville and in the
bigs. However, it was enough to swipe 56 bags at two stops. His NL price point
may require a little more risk, but he can steal 40.
Eric Young Jr., 2B/OF, Colorado
The Rockies list Young as an outfielder, but that's
a crowded picture. A likelier avenue is Clint Barmes
Alley. Barmes hit for power. His BA may bounce back, but the skills regressed
big time in his first full season. His glove gives him an edge; the club's philosophy
centers on inducing grounders.
EY Jr. has plus speed and a pretty high success rate on attempts in the minors.
His OBP also approached .400. If Barmes continues to head south and Colorado
gets off to a slow start, the club may look for a spark. Young can thieve 25
bases in 300 at-bats or fewer.
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B/SS, Florida
Someone eventually pulled the rug from under this April and June 2009 darling
(14 steals in those two months combined). The speedster is a mixed afterthought
this year, despite uncertainty in Miami. If Jorge
Cantu has to play first because Gaby Sanchez falters and Logan Morrison isn't ready, we're suddenly talking about chances for somebody.
Bonifacio won't hit for a high average, judging from his indicators, but his
contact percentage hits the acceptable threshold (80-plus), and he's a switch-hitter.
If he finds 300 at-bats, he'll approach 20 stolen base attempts. Not bad for
a pick near the back of the top 200 in NL games.
EY makes stealing bases EZ
Willy Taveras, OF, Washington
How the not so mighty have fallen. Taveras may not win a job with the Nats, but he'll probably end up on a big league roster somewhere. In D.C., Elijah Dukes is no longer in the picture.
Taveras has serious flaws in his BA skills, but when he plays, he runs. If he plays as part of a platoon, his average won't sting. Taveras could swipe 15 to 20 bags in 200 at-bats plus some pinch-running appearances.
Virtually no one drafts someone who stole 68 bases just two years ago. Seems like a wasted opportunity in the NL end game.
Tony Gwynn Jr., OF, San Diego Padres
The Pads want to platoon Gwynn with Scott Hairston; luckily, the lefty-hitting Gwynn has the PT advantage. He was caught seven times in 18 attempts last year, but his batting eye improved last year, increasing his odds of contributing a decent clip along with his speed.
The speedster increased his groundball percentage last year, too. This, along with his improved patience, increases his chances of being on first base and taking things from there. There's a nice combo of reps and skill improvement to take a chance on Gwynn in NL leagues where teams carry five outfielders.
Gerardo Parra, OF,
OK, first off, there are reasons to be skeptical of Parra's ability to reach
base as often as he did in his debut. He doesn't walk much, and his average
on balls in play was ambitious.
Move past that. Understand that PT is a real possibility if Chris B. Young struggles again or Conor Jackson wears down after missing most of last season. Realize that Parra wasn't nearly as aggressive with the D-backs as he had been in the minors.
In 2007, Parra swiped 26 bases in 546 at-bats; in 2008, 28 in 461. He stole seven bases in 108 at-bats before his call-up last year. He won't cost more than a buck or two in NL games, and you might be able to get him as a reserve. It may be justified only if he runs more. He should.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Jody Gerut is Brewers' fourth outfielder, but Cain, who's on the 40-man roster, should receive a call-up at some point this year. He had to hit the farm reset button after a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee sidelined him in early '09.
Cain is super fast, displayed promising speed in the low levels and stole six bases in 148 at-bats for Double-A Huntsville in '08. Note the name if a door opens at the big-league level.
Scott Cousins, OF, Florida
This left-handed hitter doesn't project as anything more than a platoon player, but while the Fish have organizational outfield depth, it's loaded with inexperience. Florida has never been shy about shoving prospects through the door.
Cousins stole 27 bases in 36 tries for Double-A Jacksonville last year. His
BA skills can be maxed out if he's limited to facing righties. He walks about
8 percent of the time - not inspiring, but not enough to hamper his ability
to get on base.
Cousins isn't worth a draft choice in just about any league, but keep your eyes peeled later this year, in case he stumbles onto PT.
Jason Bourgeois, OF, Houston Astros
The speedster didn't win Houston's final reserve spot this spring, but he was close. In extremely deep leagues, he could provide a little bang for a minimum FAAB bid this season, whether it's with Houston or another organization.
Bourgeois, 28, has three swipes in 40 big league at-bats. He has been pretty aggressive throughout his minor league career, too: 38 steals in 47 attempts in 2007 (Chicago White Sox, two levels), 30 in 41 tries in 2008 (ChiSox, Triple-A) and 36 in 43 attempts in 2009 (Milwaukee Brewers, Triple-A).
Bourgeois' on-base skills don't knock your socks off, but his aren't much worse than your typical one-category threat's. A break here or there, and you have a cheap source of speed.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Washington Nationals
Maxwell has had several sips of java in the bigs. With Nyjer Morgan sidelined, Maxwell swiped six bags in 102 plate appearances with the Nats in '09 after taking 35 bases at Triple-A Syracuse. Though his batting eye is shaky, the athletic Maxwell boasts 20-homer power to go with his speed, so with playing time he'd have something else to offer.
Maxwell will be in full-time duty at Syracuse, but Willie Harris is the leading man in his way now that Elijah Dukes is gone. Maxwell remains in the back of your mind as a reserve or waiver pickup in NLs.
Tyler Greene, 3B/SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Greene's ability to get on base is definitely in doubt, based on his major league equivalents and poor BB/K in 108 at-bats last season. He displayed some modest pop and, more notably, put up a solid speed rating while he was on the farm, though. Last year he hit five triples and stole 31 bases in 34 attempts in 340 at-bats with Triple-A Memphis.
St. Louis lacks everyday players around the infield (minus one obvious spot). If he's called up, Greene can earn more at-bats should David Freese fail to deliver at the hot corner. Then it becomes a matter of whether the ordinarily conservative Tony La Russa will let the efficient Greene take off. The infielder is only worth a FAAB pickup in the deepest NL leagues if he's on the roster, but he could play a valuable reserve role.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.