Over the past several years steals have begun to trend downwards. In 2012 there was a total of 3,229 steals in the majors. Last season that number was down to 2,537. That’s a 21.4% drop in just a few short years. With speed on the decline, a lot of the top stolen base threats usually get overvalued by many fantasy owners. If you play in a dynasty league and your team has a need for speed, check out the players below. Their speed will be a formidable asset to your team.
More Than Just Speed
Yoan Moncada, 2nd Base, Chicago White Sox
When Moncada first signed with the Red Sox in 2015, it was well known that he had good speed. However, I don’t think anyone expected him to be as successful on the bases as he has been so far in his minor league career. In his first taste of professional ball in the United States, the young Cuban swiped 49 bags while only getting caught three times in 2015. It’s very impressive for a young foreign player to be that successful on the base path right away. Moncada followed up his sensational first season by racking up 45 more steals in 2016 on 57 attempts.
This kid has the two skills that make up a great base stealer: plus speed and instincts. To go along with his plus speed, Moncada is also a very talented hitter that can get on base at a high clip. He has gotten on base nearly 40% of his plate appearance in the minors. He has all the makings of a dynamic base stealer that should steal 40+ bases per season, while also contributing strongly in other categories.
Victor Robles, Outfield, Washington Nationals
The 19-year-old Dominican outfielder is one of the most dynamic players in the minor leagues. There are very high hopes for him in DC. So high that the Nationals were unwilling to part with him this past offseason to acquire Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh. Since being signed as a 17-year-old, Robles has been a terror for opposing pitchers when he’s on base. His 87 career minor league steals have come in just 1012 plate appearances. On the MLB grading scale, Robles was given a grade of 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale and has been labeled as a “plus-plus” runner. Like Moncada above, Robles has the ability to get on base frequently and should hit at or near the top of the Nationals order someday. Robles profiles as an all-star leadoff hitter that should have several 50+ steal seasons in his future.
Speed Plus A Little Extra
Ozzie Albies, 2nd Base, Atlanta Braves
[the_ad id=”384″]The Curacao native has been a highly regarded prospect since signing with Atlanta back in the 2013 international signing period. He has even cracked the top 20 of a lot of prospect lists this season. Due to the long-term presence of Dansby Swanson at short, Albies has switched over to 2nd base. That positional switch should allow him to debut with the Braves later this season. His abilities as a hitter, along with his plus speed, should slot him near the top of the Braves lineup upon his call-up. If he can continue to get on base at a solid clip, Albies should be a solid three-category fantasy contributor excelling in the batting average and stolen base categories.
Anthony Alford, Outfield, Toronto Blue Jays
Due to his football commitment at Southern Mississippi University, Alford had a slow start to his baseball career. He switched to baseball full-time in 2015 and has proven the Blue Jays right for taking a gamble on him in the 2012 amateur draft. Alford has been described as “Ultra-Toolsy” with speed being his most noteworthy asset. His 70-grade speed is becoming more and more apparent each season.
In just over 900 career minor league at-bats, Alford has 63 stolen bases on 77 attempts. His 81% stolen base rate is promising for a player his age and bodes well for his future potential as a speedster. Toronto has a lot of solid bats in their lineup. What they lack is a top of the order burner like Alford. Once he arrives in Toronto, expect Alford to be a solid 40+ steals player that can help you out some in other categories as well.
The Speed-Only Guys
Jorge Mateo, Short Stop, New York Yankees
[the_ad id=”693″]Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo might be the fastest player in the minors. Just check out this story about an inside the park home run he hit last May. There are some questions as to how successful he’ll be as a hitter at the major league level, but no doubts at all about his speed. If baseball doesn’t work out he should give track a try, he’s that fast. Over 449 at bats in 2015, Mateo ran wild to the tune of 82 stolen bases. No need to rub your eyes, that wasn’t a typo. Stealing 193 bases in two seasons worth of at bats is no easy feat. It looks like he might end up being a speed-only player unless he can start making more consistent contact. This is one of the rare players with 80-grade speed that can be a game-changer for fantasy owners in the speed department.
Roman Quinn, Outfield, Philadelphia Phillies
Getting an 80-grade for any aspect of your game is impressive. Quinn is one of the few that has 80-grade speed. He has wreaked havoc on the base path at every minor league level he’s played in thus far. Quinn even showed a glimpse of his elite speed at the major league level for the Phillies last September when he stole five bases in limited playing time. It remains to be seen where he’ll hit in the lineup for the Phillies once he gets called up. He’s only average with the bat, therefore, he might get stuck in the bottom of the lineup. At the very least Quinn has the ability to be a speed-only player in the mold of Jarrod Dyson.