Need for Speed: The Rockies Fastest
We all love speed -- on the baseball field that is. Players like Willy Taveras, Juan Pierre, and a younger Charlie Blackmon made for some fun Rockies baseball. So to continue our minor league tool series, let’s take a look under the hood of every player in the system. We’ll rank the top 10 players and 4 honorable mentions for the players who best utilize their wheels.
To measure that, we’ll take a look at stolen bases as a rate stat (SB/PA) and then account for how many times they were caught stealing. So, the “equation” we will be running is our rate stat for steals multiplied by their stolen base percent. This will give us an imperfect but still good measure of who the most effective runners are in the Rockies’ system. 125 PAs will be the threshold to qualify.
Here’s how the data came out, with the far right column representing the speed stat we used to rank the players.
Zac Veen | Low-A - 36 SB, 68 SB%
Our golden boy Zac Veen just makes the list as an honorable mention. While we did love seeing him nearly snag 36 bags, he was caught 17 times which suggests he might need to be a little less aggressive next season. Overall, he has plus speed and will be a 20 stolen base threat for the next decade.
Niko Decolati | High-A - 26 SB, 84%
Decolati has been inconsistent as a hitter but he has been very consistent as a base-stealing threat. This year, he stole a very efficient 26 and will look to carve out a name for himself as a go-to base-stealer.
Kyle Datres | High-A - 14 SB, 88 SB%
Here’s where the “equation” comes into play. Datres only stole 14 bags but he was very efficient and would’ve stolen closer to 25 if given over 400 plate appearances. Like Decolati, Datres isn’t going to make waves as a hitter but he’s proving to be a quality base runner.
Hunter Stovall | High-A - 25 SB, 78 SB%
A friend of the podcast, not only is Stovall a great hitter who gets on base at a high rate, but he’s quick on the base paths and an efficient base-stealer. This pads his potential MLB utility profile.
The Rockies’ 10 Car Garage
10) Drew Romo | Low-A - 23 SB, 79 SB%
One of our favorite players in the organization, Romo wasn’t expected to be a big-time base-stealer when he was drafted. The switch-hitting backstop would likely get a chuckle out of that sentence given that he’s mentioned his desire to be a bonafide 5-tool player, despite not getting that recognition in the draft process.
If Romo can consistently steal 15 to 20 bases a year, his ceiling as an overall ballplayer jumps like crazy. Given that he’s a catcher, Romo didn’t get as many PAs as most regulars, meaning he would’ve been close to 30 steals with more playing time. Let’s just hope he keeps the efficiency up.
9) Walking Cabrera | ACL - 11 SB, 85 SB%
Unfortunately, Cabrera was selected in the MiLB Rule 5 draft and will no longer get to put his speed to use in a Rockies uniform. He was really efficient in a limited sample in the Arizona Complex League and will likely be a 25 steal player in the Seattle organization.
8) Jack Blomgren | High-A - 30 SB, 81 SB%
Garrett Hampson 2.0 is living up to that billing as one of the best speedsters in the organization. He cracked the 30 steals mark and did it above an 80% success rate. For someone who began getting on base at a much higher rate in the second half, it’s possible he can steal more than 30 if he carries his momentum into 2022.
7) Matt Hearn | AA - 27 SB, 82 SB%
A lesser known Rockies’ farmhand, Hearn was signed on an MiLB contract in 2018 and has been a consistent base-stealer ever since. His bat stalled in 2021 but he still managed an efficient 27 steals in limited playing time.
6) Bladimir Restituyo | Low-A - 31 SB, 86 SB%
Objectively, one of the fastest players in the organization, Restituyo did what he does best even when his bat dragged behind a bit. An 86 SB% on over 30 steals is remarkable and gives him a chance to be a pretty valuable player.
5) Sandry Hernandez | DSL - 24 SB, 83 SB%
The 18-year old Hernandez didn’t look inexperienced this season stealing 24 bases in just over 200 PAs. Dominican Summer League stats can be pretty inflated or skewed in some way, so we’ll need to keep an eye on him going forward.
4) Eddy Diaz | Low-A - 59 SB, 76 SB%
We need to have Diaz and Restituyo have an Olympic style televised footrace to liven up the MLB lockout. Diaz’s 59 steals were second in all of Minor League Baseball, showing he’s the definition of lightning-quick. Like Restituyo and Hearn, his bat didn’t stand out this season, perhaps limiting how many bases Diaz could actually steal.
3) Fadriel Cruz | DSL - 21 SB, 81 SB%
Another DSL prospect, Cruz stole 21 bases in 168 PAs, a really amazing rate that places Cruz in our top 3. Between him, Hernandez, and our #1, the Rockies have some speedsters coming through the system.
2) Yorvis Torrealba | ACL - 26 SB, 84 SB%
Torrealba the polar opposite of his father in terms of playstyle. Yorvit was a strength based player with little value to add on the base paths whereas Yorvis is a contact and speed type player. While he was quite old for the ACL, there’s no doubt some promising tools in the younger Torrealba’s game.
1) Adrian Pinto | DSL - 41 SB, 84 SB%
The cream of the crop, Pinto is legit, DSL stat imperfections aside. He hits, he has sneaky pop, and he’s absurdly fast, stealing 41 bags in just 224 PAs. For context, that’s about 90 steals over a 500 PA sample. I don’t think more needs to be said besides watch out opposing batteries.