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.

Blue Jays could move Jaime Garcia to bullpen

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Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that the Blue Jays are considering moving starter Jaime Garcia to the bullpen. If they go that route, Sam Gaviglio would start in Garcia’s place on Sunday against the Angels.

Garcia, 31, has struggled to a 6.16 ERA with a 56/31 K/BB ratio in 61 1/3 innings over 13 starts this season. Gaviglio, meanwhile, has a 3.75 ERA with 35 striekouts and 11 walks in 36 innings across six starts and two relief appearances for the Jays this year.

Garcia inked a one-year, $10 million contract with the Jays in February. The deal includes a club option for the 2019 season worth $10 million with a $2 million buyout.