In honor of Top Gun: Maverick dominating at the box office currently, we here at MLB Pipeline feel the need, the need for speed.
We’re looking at the fastest prospect in each organization this week and you’ll see that top-of-the-scale speed does not automatically land you on a team’s Top 30 list. Some might even have get an 80 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, but don’t have similar other tools to put them more firmly on the prospect radar.
Having speed and being able to use it effectively on the basepaths can often be two different things, and these days, the art of the stolen base seems to be a lost one. We still haven't had a big leaguer steal more than 50 bases since Dee Strange-Gordon swiped 60 back in 2017. Will one of these 30 speedsters break that streak? We will have to wait and see.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Dasan Brown, OF (No. 27)
Brown is already a great story as an Ontario native working his way toward Toronto, and his 80-grade wheels are going to fuel that journey back north. Brown has eclipsed the elite Sprint Speed measure of 30.0 ft/sec six times on the basepaths this season for Single-A Dunedin, making him responsible for exactly half of the Florida State League club’s 12 bolts. He has lots of room to grow offensively as a career .219 hitter in the Minors, but his speed will always give him a chance to be a future Major League contributor.
Orioles: Luis Valdez, OF (unranked on Baltimore's Top 30)
The Orioles signed Valdez for just $10,000 close to the end of the 2018-19 international signing period. He didn't make his professional debut until 2021 in the Dominican Summer League, where he immediately showed off his 80-grade speed by stealing 21 bases in 24 attempts over 35 games. Now almost exclusively an outfielder after signing as a shortstop, Valdez has continued to show an ability to wreak havoc on the basepaths with a jump to full-season ball in 2022, going 24-for-28 in 40 games with Delmarva.
Rays: Greg Jones, SS (No. 6)
You can’t go wrong with the Rays’ options here, considering Vidal Bruján (No. 4) and Xavier Edwards (No. 7) are also 70-grade runners. We’ll lean toward Jones, whom Tampa Bay officials believed to be the fastest of the bunch this spring, if only by a hair. The 2019 first-rounder has swiped 70 bags over his three seasons in the Minors, including 17 in only 30 games for Double-A Montgomery this year, and he could be a threat to swipe 40-plus over a full Major League season with regular playing time in The Show.
Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 17)
Jimenez has gained about 50 pounds since signing for $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 and now carries 212 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame, yet he still has retained plus-plus speed. Intriguing but raw in many phases of the game, he's hitting .267/.321/.433 with eight steals in 38 games in High-A.
Yankees: Brandon Lockridge, OF (No. 17)
Lockridge offers one of the best power/speed combinations in the Yankees system, with solid-to-plus raw pop and 75- to 80-grade run times on the 20-80 scouting scale. A 2018 fifth-round pick from Troy, he's batting .239/.303/.371 with three homers and seven steals in 40 Double-A games.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Luis Durango, OF (unranked on Cleveland's Top 30)
Like his father Luis, who played briefly in the big leagues, the younger Durango is an outfielder with at least 70-grade speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. Signed out of Panama for $500,000 in 2019 and nicknamed "Dash," he led the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League with 28 steals in 46 games during his pro debut last summer. He's hitting .188/.307/.211 with 13 swipes in 40 games in Single-A.
Royals: Brewer Hicklen, OF (unranked on Kansas City's Top 30)
Major contact issues have caused the 26-year-old outfielder to slip out of the Royals’ rankings in recent years, but his plus-plus speed has kept him solidly in Kansas City’s organizational depth chart, leading to a brief taste of the Majors just last week. Hicklen has stolen at least 35 bases in each of his last three Minor League seasons, topping out with 40 last year at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and he has 11 thefts in 42 games for Triple-A Omaha so far this season. With another elite defender in Michael A. Taylor in center, Hicklen can use his speed at all three outfield spots to help K.C. in the Majors, should he come back up in 2022.
Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 18)
Listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Meadows is more athletic than his frame would suggest and has regularly shown plus run times during his days in the Minor Leagues. He’s made 27 of his 29 starts with Double-A Erie in center field this season as a result, and his seven steals are second-most on the SeaWolves, despite his late arrival on May 6. The 22-year-old has made the most strides with his bat this season and will need to continue those improvements to become a regular MLB contributor like his brother Austin, but the overall athleticism gives the younger Meadows a chance to be a fourth outfielder.
Twins: Royce Lewis, SS/OF (No. 1, MLB No. 40)
The big question for Lewis upon his official return this year following his torn ACL in 2021 was weather his speed would fully return. Before landing back on the injured list with a bone bruise after crashing into the center-field wall, he had answered that question by going 12-for-14 in stolen base attempts in Triple-A and showing off an excellent Sprint Speed of 28.4 feet per second during his brief time in the big leagues.
White Sox: James Beard, OF (unranked on Chicago's Top 30)
The fastest player in the 2019 Draft, Beard posted a 6.21-second 60-yard dash on the high school showcase circuit and earned Billy Hamilton comparisons because he was a Mississippi prep outfielder with top-of-the-line speed. A fourth-round selection, Beard has swiped 15 bases in 17 attempts in 31 games in Single-A, but he's also hitting .192/.297/.288.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Jordyn Adams, OF (No. 6)
A former two-sport star in high school, Adams brought 80-grade speed with him to the pro game when the Angels took him in the first round of the 2018 Draft. His wheels help him cover a ton of ground in center field and he is continuing to improve his ability on the basepaths. Hitting and getting on base more this year compared to last certainly hasn't hurt, and he's gone 11-for-12 in just 36 games this season in the stolen base department.
Astros: Pedro Leon, OF (No. 3)
The Cuban-born Leon received the largest bonus ($4 million) in the 2020-21 international class because he's loaded with tools, including top-of-the-scale arm strength, plus-plus speed and at least plus raw power. He's batting .226/.363/.463 with seven homers and 14 steals in 43 Triple-A games.
A’s: Zack Gelof, 3B/2B (No. 3, MLB No. 97)
Gelof entered pro ball without much of a reputation for speed, though scouts recognized good instincts on the bases. Not only has he proven those evaluations to be true by stealing 21 bases in 24 attempts so far in his career since being a second-round pick of the A's in 2021, he's actually proven to be a lot faster than anticipated, clocking the fastest 30-yard sprint time in the organization this spring.
Mariners: Jonatan Clase, OF (No. 19)
Clase became the fastest player in the organization the minute he signed for $35,000 at the start of the 2018-19 international signing period. He finished fifth in the Dominican Summer League with 31 steals during his pro debut in 2019 and went a perfect 16-for-16 during his United States debut in the Arizona Complex League a year ago before his summer was cut short by injury. Now running rampant in full-season ball for the first time, he is 18-for-21 in stolen-base attempts in just 36 games with Modesto.
Rangers: Bubba Thompson, OF (No. 27)
A star quarterback as an Alabama high schooler, Thompson was one of the best athletes and a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. His plus-plus speed remains his best tool and he's using it to lead the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 26 steals (in 27 attempts) in 37 games while hitting .325/.335/.479.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Tyler Collins, OF (No. 23)
The Braves went over slot to sign Collins away from his Oklahoma State commitment in the eighth round of last year's Draft and he immediately rewarded their faith with a strong pro debut in the Florida Complex League that included 12 stolen bases in just 23 games. The 19-year-old center fielder has yet to play in 2022 and put that 70 speed to good use.
Marlins: J.D. Orr, OF (unranked on Miami's Top 30)
An 80-grade runner, Orr topped NCAA Division I with 60 steals and 83 runs at Wright State in 2019 before landing a $2,500 bonus as a ninth-round senior sign. In his pro debut, he led the short-season New York-Penn League with 57 runs and a .469 on-base percentage while finishing second with a .352 batting average and 29 steals (albeit in 46 tries). This season, he has 14 swipes in 16 attempts while batting .312/.436/.403 in 27 games across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A.
Mets: Omar De Los Santos, OF (unranked on New York's Top 30)
The 22-year-old outfielder has registered eight of the 10 fastest home-to-first times by a Single-A St. Lucie player this season -- all at 4.26 seconds or faster, including one sprint at 3.98. And yes, he bats from the right side. He’s registered 17 Bolts (i.e. runs at 30 ft/sec or faster) in the Florida State League, which would rank as seventh-most in the Majors this season just above Tim Anderson, Tyler O’Neill and Jose Siri (each with 15). What’s more, De Los Santos isn’t just fast; he’s efficient with 23 steals in 25 attempts this season.
Nationals: Lucius Fox, INF (No. 22)
The 24-year-old switch-hitter moved around several times in waiver deals last offseason, in part because so many different clubs were hoping they could find a place for his plus-plus speed. Fox stole 142 bases from 2016 (his first Minor League season) to 2021, placing him 12th among all Minor Leaguers in that span. His ability to move swiftly around the diamond has offered him chances at multiple positions too, providing a boost to his chances of being a utility player for Washington.
Phillies: Yhoswar Garcia, OF (No. 15)
Garcia has struggled to hit since signing with the Phillies for $2.5 million in March of 2020, albeit in a small sample size of just over 50 games. But there is no question about his easily plus speed. He's stolen 29 bases in 34 games so far this year, giving him 40 in 52 professional games to date.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Garrett Mitchell, OF (No. 3)
Put aside Mitchell’s offensive struggles for a moment, and recall that the 2020 20th overall pick can fly. His 70-grade speed was a big part of what made him a first-round talent coming out of UCLA, and it's still what excites Brewers officials most about his current profile. He’s swiped 23 bases in 26 attempts since debuting in the Minors last season, and he flips on those wheels to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples, providing his slugging percentage with a speedy boost. When healthy -- he’s currently out with an oblique strain -- Mitchell forms one of the best defensive outfields in the Minors alongside fellow Milwaukee top-three prospects Sal Frelick (No. 1/MLB No. 65) and Joey Wiemer (No. 2/MLB No. 81).
Cardinals: Masyn Winn, SS (No. 5)
Winn already possesses maybe the best infield arm in the Minor Leagues and is trending upwards offensively with a 1.013 OPS at High-A and Double-A this season. Let’s add another impressive note to his resume: The 20-year-old shortstop is a perfect 16-for-16 on the basepaths this season. His 48 steals over the last two seasons are the most in the St. Louis system in that timeframe, 13 more than Delvin Pérez (No. 24) in second place. While Winn was once thought to be a potential pitcher -- he was clocked in the upper-90s on the mound -- there’s too much to like about his growing profile at the six to keep him away from a potential everyday role.
Cubs: Zach Davis, OF (unranked on Chicago's Top 30)
Though Davis started just 56 games in four years at Texas Tech, his 80-grade speed led the Cubs to sign him for $1,000 in the 32nd round of the 2016 Draft. He has 130 steals in 349 career games and is a perfect 10-for-10 on swipes this season in Triple-A, where he's batting .196/.313/.232 in 25 contests.
Pirates: Braylon Bishop, OF (unranked on Pittsburgh's Top 30)
Bishop’s plus speed stood out on the basepaths and in center field as one of the best pure prep athletes in the 2021 Draft class. A standout in football and track, Bishop got an over-slot bonus to sign in the 14th round, but has only eight games on his professional resume so far.
Reds: Jacob Hurtubise, OF (unranked on Cincinnati's Top 30)
The all-time stolen-base leader at Army, Hurtubise signed as a non-drafted free agent following the shortened 2020 Draft. The speed played with a move to High-A during his pro debut in 2021, helping him finish third in the league with 39 steals. He’s missed some time with a wrist strain up in Double-A this year, but has still managed to go a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts in 16 games with Chattanooga.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Corbin Carroll, OF (No. 1, MLB No. 13)
What is there not to like about Carroll these days? The 21-year-old outfielder has been crazy hot for Double-A Amarillo in his return from last year’s shoulder surgery with a .294/.421/.619 line through 41 games. His 70-grade speed was never in question, and that continues to be A Problem for opposing clubs. Carroll’s 15 steals in 16 attempts are fourth-most in the Texas League entering Thursday, while his four triples are tied for most in the circuit.
Dodgers: Jake Vogel, OF (No. 29)
One of the fastest and most athletic high schoolers in the 2020 Draft, Vogel ran the fastest 60-yard dash (6.15 seconds) at the 2019 Perfect Game National Showcase and signed for a well over-slot $1,622,500 in the third round. Still honing his right-handed swing and learning to translate his plus-plus speed into steals, he's batting .204/.324/.316 with four swipes in 40 games in Single-A.
Giants: Grant McCray, OF (No. 25)
The Giants have been waiting for McCray to tap into his combination of power and speed since taking him out of a Florida high school in third round in 2019, and he's doing it now that he's no longer slowed by nagging injuries. A well above-average runner, he's hitting .275/.374/.516 with six homers and 11 steals in 38 games in Single-A. He's the son of former big league outfielder Rodney McCray, who gained fame by literally crashing through an outfield fence while playing in Triple-A in 1991.
Padres: C.J. Abrams, SS/2B/OF (No. 1, MLB No. 6)
Abrams’ first taste of the Majors this spring didn’t go quite to plan, but his top-of-the-line speed is a big reason why San Diego was willing to get so aggressive with him at the start of his age-21 season. His athleticism has helped him move beyond shortstop to stints at second, center and right, and that should come in handy when Fernando Tatis Jr. eventually returns to the Padres lineup. Abrams has already stolen five bags in 18 games since his return to Triple-A El Paso.
Rockies: Braiden Ward, OF (unranked on Colorado's Top 30)
Ward swiped 89 bases during his career at Washington and brought his wheels with him to the Rockies as a 16th-round Draft pick a year ago. He’s already run his way up a rung on the organizational ladder, from Single-A to High-A, after going a perfect 26-for-26 in stolen-base attempts in 39 games with Fresno.