Rotoprofessor’s Five Late Round Speed Options

Mar 9, 2009

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Last week we looked at five late-round power options (click here to view) that would be available for owners in need of a little boost there.  What about those of us who are desperate for some speed?  No, I’m not going to name the Juan Pierre’s of the world, because I’m not sure how much playing time he’s actually going to get.

No, this list will be five players who look likely to play every day and make a strong contribution for you in the speed department:

Coco Crisp
Here is a player I love for 2009, as he will get out of the shadows of Boston and get to play everyday.  He stole 20 bases in just 361 AB last season, and has been at 20 or more four times over the course of his career.  With a full-time gig, there’s every reason to believe that he could reach 30 or beyond this season.

He’s not a huge power threat, but he has hit 16 in a season and it would not be surprising to see him reach double-digits for the first time since 2005.  He also will give you a solid average and could approach 90 runs scored, depending on how youngsters like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler continue to mature.

People forget how good of a player Crisp was before he joined the Red Sox.  There were those who thought he could develop into a perennial 20/20 player while with the Indians, and while you should not have those lofty expectations, you should certainly expect him to become a very usable OF’er in all formats this season.

Alexi Casilla
Here is a player that I liked last season, and while he didn’t provide as much speed as you’d expect, he did prove that he was more then capable of performing in the major leagues.  I know what you are thinking, a guy with just 7 SB last season is a good pick late in my draft if I’m looking for some speed?  Actually, yes, he is.

He is the same player who had 48 SB in ‘05 between Single & Double A, which he followed up with 50 SB in ‘06 between the same two levels.  In 2007 he had a total of 35 SB between Triple A and the Majors, and with a full year of experience under his belt I would expect him to settle in and begin running more.

He has the potential to provide a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the order with Denard Span (who isn’t on this list, only because I don’t think he’ll be sitting there over the last few rounds), and has the potential to close in on 30 SB with a solid average and plenty of runs.  That’s a great combo for a middle infielder, and certainly a player I’d watch closely.

Emmanuel Burris
Is he going to be the Giants starting 2B this season?  I believe so, which immediately makes him a player worth watching if you are in need of some speed.  He had 13 SB in limited playing time for the Giants last season, meaning that 25 over a full season would easily be attainable.

Across 2 levels of Single A in ‘07, the guy stole 68 bases in 86 attempts, so there really should be no doubting his speed.  The problem may be his experience, as he had just 62 AB at Triple A (and none at Double A), before being recalled last season.  While he did hold his own with the bat (he hit .283), it’ll be interesting to see if he could maintain that type of pace.  He made consistent contact (K% of 10.0%), so if he could continue that, as well as put the ball on the ground (GB% of 64.7%), with his speed he should be able to be successful.

I would expect the Giants to use him near the bottom of the order, however, which will influence his ability to score runs.  It’s possible he gets bumped up if he gets off to a hot start (and the Giants fail to add a middle of the order bat), but time will tell.  From a pure speed perspective, he’s a great gamble in the end game and provide a desperately needed spark atop the line-up.

Felipe Lopez
We’ve already talked about him here, so I’m not going to go into too much detail.  Lopez is a player who has had a very unique career, having stolen as many as 44 bases in a season, the year after he had hit 23 HR.  He’s only had double-digit SB in 3 seasons, and one of those did not come in ‘08 when he swiped just 8.

Still, now put atop the Diamondbacks line-up, I can envision a scenario with him stealing around 20 bases for the season.  I wouldn’t draft him looking for that, but if you want to take the flyer off the waiver wire for your MI spot, I could see that playing out.

Don’t look for him to be a 20/20 player, that HR season was an aberration.  Still, he’ll give you a decent average and should score some runs.  If he could get to the 20 SB plateau, he’d be worth using, but he’s probably the longest shot on this list.

Cameron Maybin
The make-up of the Marlins line-up will certainly play a huge role in what type of SB production Maybin may offer owners.  I certainly could see the scenario developing with him hitting atop the order and Hanley Ramirez batting third, meaning that Maybin will have the potential to be this seasons Carlos Gomez, a lot of speed but not a great average.

Gomez hit .259 last season, but stole 33 bases.  Maybin certainly has that type of speed, having stolen a total of 25 bases last season between Double A and the majors.  His biggest problem is just making contact, striking out 124 times 390 AB at Double A.  That certainly is going to contribute to him struggling with the average and possibly keep him from the major leagues.

He’s going to be up at some point, having had cups of coffee in both 2007 & 2008, so monitor his situation.  If you are looking to get some speed, he’s certainly a player worth gambling on as he has been touted as one of the best prospects over the past few seasons.

Who did I miss?  What players are you focusing on for some end-game SB?

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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