Presenting the minor league stolen base leaders

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Here’s a list of the current stolen base leaders in the minors, topped by a couple of very good prospects.

1. Billy Hamilton (A- Reds): 52 SB, .233/.294/.325 in 240 AB
2. Gary Brown (A+ Giants): 32 SB, .335/.407/.487 in 269 AB
2. Tyler Graham (AAA Giants): 32 SB, .269/.339/.358 in 201 AB
4. Rymer Liriano (A-, A+ Padres): 31 SB, .267/.338/.428 in 236 AB
5. Daniel Carroll (A+ Mariners): 30 SB, .351/.406/.421 in 235 AB
6. Anthony Gose (AA Blue Jays): 29 SB, .249/.346/.369 in 225 AB
6. Travis Witherspoon (A- Angels): 29 SB, .215/.277/.320 in 247 AB
8. Reymond Fuentes (A+ Padres): 28 SB, .299/.351/.357 in 244 AB
9. Reggie Keen (A- Brewers): 25 SB, .263/.313/.379 in 224 AB
9. Jeff Kobernus (A+ Nationals): 25 SB, .260/.303/.349 in 235 AB
11. Andrew Means (A+ Reds): 24 SB, .265/.328/.374 in 211 AB
11. Felix Sanchez (A- Red Sox): 24 SB, .238/.321/.300 in 210 AB
11. Jonathan Villar (A+, AA Astros): 24 SB, .250/.341/.400 in 220 AB
11. Carlos Willoughby (A- Giants): 24 SB, .276/.374/.344 in 250 AB
15. Mike Trout (AA Angels): 23 SB, .330/.434/.565 in 209 AB
15. Ray Kruml (AA Yankees): 23 SB, .268/.316/.329 in 228 AB

This kind of list is always going to have a lot of non-prospects, but some very good ones make the top 15 here, including the game’s best prospect in the high minors.  Trout has been brilliant as a 19-year-old in Double-A, amassing a .998 OPS through 57 games. About the only flaw in the game is that he’s not hitting a lot of doubles (just nine so far to go along with eight triples and eight homers).  However, he makes up for that by often taking second after his singles and walks.

Hamilton is far out in front despite having a disappointing season to date.  Baseball America rated him as the game’s No. 50 prospect after he hit .318/.383/.456 in Rookie ball in 2010, but the 20-year-old has really struggled since moving up to full-season ball. His 64/20 K/BB ratio is particularly problematic given that he doesn’t have much power at all.  Still, Hamilton is a shortstop, and he’s not going to have to be all that strong of a hitter to turn into a quality regular.

Gary Brown isn’t a fabulous basestealer — he’s been caught 14 times to go with his 32 successes — but he is looking like an excellent prospect.  He looked like something of a project coming out of Cal State Fullerton, so he’s blowing away expectations by hitting .335 in his first full season.

I’m not a Gose fan, and I think Fuentes and Villar are probably the next best prospects here.  Fuentes was the third player to go from Boston to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal last year. Villar and Gose were both part of the Astros’ haul from the Phillies for Roy Oswalt, but Gose was then shipped to Toronto for Brett Wallace.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves