Last week we took a role call on the top-5 speedsters in the minor leagues, and this week we'll follow that list up with Nos. 6-10. Most of the prospects here, excluding Jorge Mateo, are on the verge of achieving the upper minors (AA, AAA) for the first time. The jump from High-A to Double-A is one of the toughest in professional baseball. It's when pitchers begin to hone their elite velocity and secondary offerings and hitters' poor approaches get exposed — just ask Albert Almora. Conveniently, that's the very test each of these prospects will need to pass in order to push their fantasy stock from boom-or-bust flier territory to dynasty stalwart. It will be important to monitor their progress throughout the year, although you should bear in mind that their lack of experience and hype on industry prospect lists presents an excellent buying opportunity. Enough yammering, let's get to the list.
6. Tim Anderson, 2B/SS, White Sox (Age: 22)
Speed Grade: 70
SB Per 150 Games: 35
Simply put, Tim Anderson is one of the best athletes in baseball, at any level. Surprisingly, Anderson wasn’t offered a Division I scholarship out of high school, and it wasn’t until his sophomore year of Junior College that he really put himself on the map, hitting .495 with 11 home runs. He was drafted 17th overall in 2013, and while he’s still raw, some exciting tools have shown their face during his brief time in the minors. Not only does he have plus-plus speed (70) — which has taken form more in high BABIPs than stolen base totals — but he’s also flashed plus raw power, which manifests itself through excellent batspeed. His ultimate ceiling as a fantasy prospect is immense, but he’s still got a lot of work ahead of him. Specifically, he doesn’t read pitchers’ moves well, needing refinement to be a terror on the basepaths; on defense, his .897 fielding percentage in 2014 was comfortably the worst in the entire league; his plate discipline is atrocious — he owns a career 160/33 SO/BB. He missed time with a fractured wrist last season, and should spend most of the year at Double-A Birmingham. If he lights the Southern League on fire, his stock will go through the roof.
7. Trea Turner, SS, Padres/Nationals, (Age: 22)
Speed Grade: 70
SB per 150 Games: n/a
Turner currently remains in baseball limbo, as he’s the player to be named later in the three-team trade that sent outfielders Wil Myers and Steven Souza to the Padres and Rays, respectively. A player can’t officially be traded until 12 months after they are drafted (Turner was the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft), which means Turner, who reported to Padres camp, will take an assignment from San Diego before being shipped off to the Nationals’ organization in June. Baseball-wise, Turner should stick up the middle at shortstop and eventually occupy a major league leadoff spot, thanks to his strong plate discipline and game-changing speed. He stole 116 bases in 173 college games over three seasons at NC State and continued his Blaze of Glory upon debuting as a pro, swiping 23-of-27 bases with a robust .323/.406/.448 triple-slash. He’s got a chance to reach Double-A this season, and a key point of interest will be whether or not he can square up premium velocity. There’s top-10 shortstop potential here.
8. Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Astros (Age: 22)
Speed Grade: 65
SB per 150 Games: 34
Hernandez is the only player on this list I’ve seen in person, and he undoubtedly holds a warm place in my cold-cold heart. He brutalized High-A Stockton’s starting pitcher the night I saw him, sending two doubles off the wall and chipping in a few stolen bases for a tip. He looked like the most talented player on the field. He brutalized the California League, in general, last summer, if we’re candid — ahem, .292/.362/.535 triple-slash with 17 home runs and 31 stolen bases in just 96 games. Promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi, he yet again brutalized. His scouting reports ubiquitously mention how much Hernandez loves to swing; he’s incredibly aggressive. Depending on how much contact he makes at the major league level, he’s either a borderline all-star or a fourth outfielder. For fantasy owners, that means he could be either Starling Marte… or Felix Pie. His speed is special because he steals bases because of baseball acumen as opposed to pure speed, reading pitchers and catchers like a Harry Potter tome. Heading into 2015, he was the Astros’ No. 9 and No.10 prospect according to Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, which should ensure that his price isn’t exorbitant. Double-A will be a great test.
9. Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees (Age: 20)
Speed Grade: 80
SB per 150 Games: n/a
Jorge Mateo is one of the most exciting prospects you may have never heard of. He’s a legitimate 80-runner and has terrorized Rookie ball the last three years, stealing 64 bags in just 93 games. Yes, you read that correctly — he’s played in just 93 games in three years. Health is a big concern here. He’s dealt with injury after injury after injury since making his pro debut and hasn’t come close to logging a full season of at-bats. Last season it was a broken wrist that limited him to just 15 games. In order to ascend to the highest level, he’s going to need to stay healthy and get reps against better pitchers, because the rest of his game needs refinement too. It might take a while, but Baseball America notes in its annual Prospect Handbook that he reminds scouts, athletically, of NFL wide receiver DeSean Jackson and, in baseball terms, a young Jose Reyes. What a combo.
10. Roman Quinn, SS, Phillies (Age: 22)
SB per 150 Games: 64
Quinn is not only one of the fastest players in professional baseball, but he’s also one of the most athletic. He signed with the Phillies for $775,000 in 2011, forgoing a scholarship to play quarterback at Florida State. Two massive 6-foot-4 hulks named E.J. Manuel and Jameis Winston played quarterback for the Seminoles in the succeeding years, so it’s safe to say the 5-foot-10, 170-lbs Quinn made the right decision — besides, he doesn’t need to worry about scrambled brains and broken bones. The switch-hitting Quinn did suffer a ruptured Achilles tendon during the 2013 offseason, but upon his return to the field last summer, he had the same lightning speed as before, stealing 32 bases in 87 games. He’s got the ability to stick at shortstop, but it’s more likely he’ll move to the keystone to accommodate for Phillies top prospect J.P. Crawford; the duo will likely form an up-the-middle tandem at Double-A Reading in 2015. As with many young, toolsy, athletic players the final facet of his game that needs to come together is his ability to hit enough to get on base and wreak havoc. Baseball America compares his skills to incumbent Phillies center fielder Ben Revere. For fantasy purposes, he could have more value than Revere because he’ll be middle-infield eligible and also chip in a handful of home runs. (Watch Quinn (below) fly around the bags for an inside-the-park home run.)
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