Potential 30/30 Prospects

October 11, 2006
Only 28 players have accomplished the feat of hitting 30 home runs and stealing 30 bases in a single season.

Just seven of them were infielders: first basemen Joe Carter and Jeff Bagwell, second baseman Alfonso Soriano, shortstops Barry Larkin and Alex Rodriguez, and third basemen Tommy Harper and Howard Johnson.

It’s likely that only a couple of current minor leaguers will ever go on to have 30/30 seasons, and it’s pretty tough to pinpoint who they are. Project Prospect Writer Denny Foster took on the challenge of isolating the ten current prospects who are most likely to someday join the 30/30 club.

Following historical suit, most of the players on his list are outfielders, but there are some infield prospects who he thinks have a chance to go 30/30.

Players are listed along with their position, organization, and their highest minor leagues level – if applicable.

1. Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Young is a former No. 1 pick and a top tier talent. His combination of power and speed is well beyond his age and continues to be the envy of every Major League General Manager. In 2005, at age 20, Young hit 26 home runs and stole 32 bases (44 attempts; 72.7%), which led to him receiving the 2005 Minor League Player of the Year Award.

While he did not show amazing power at Triple-A in 2006, he held his own on the base paths, stealing 22 times (26 attempts; 84.6%) in just 360 plate appearances. At his age, Young should continue to grow physically stronger. His potential could lead to a 30/30 season as soon as next year.

2. Chris Young, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

In 2006, Chris Young built upon his Double-A numbers by hitting 21 home runs and stealing 17 bases (22 attempts; 77.3%) at Triple-A Tucson in only 402 at-bats. He may not hit over .285 at any point in his Major League career, but his power and speed should give him a chance at a 30/30 season. A 22-year-old, Chris Young may still grow into his 6-foot-2, 170-pounds frame. He is expected to be the Diamondbacks everyday centerfielder in 2007 after getting an extended look in 2006 (70 at-bats).

3. Cameron Maybin, OF, Detroit Tigers (Single-A)

The 10th overall selection in the 2005 draft, Maybin, 19, is a widely considered one of the best five-tool prospects in the game. He had a great start to his career, hitting 9 home runs in 385 at-bats at a home park that doesn’t allow many balls to get out and stealing 27 bases (34 attempts; 79.4%).

Maybin has the ability to hit for amazing power while utilizing plus speed (4.1 seconds to first base). While he is young, his development is ahead of schedule, and he should ascend through the minors rather quickly. His 6-foot-3, 200-pound body should continue to grow and develop in the coming year, which will likely aid an expected jump in his power production.

4. Brandon Wood, SS, Los Angeles Angels (Double-A…ignoring short 2005 stint in Triple-A)

Arguably one of the top 5 prospects in all of baseball, Wood, 21, has proven his ability to hit minor league pitching. With a career .890 OPS, he has become one of Minor League Baseball’s premier power hitters. In the last two years, he has hit 68 home runs and 95 doubles between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas. In addition to his power, Wood has the speed to steal bases, as seen by his 19 stolen bases (22 attempts; 86.4%) in 2006.

While he may not be the prototypical base stealer, Wood will have a plethora of opportunities to swipe bags so long as he’s playing for baseball’s top base stealing team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

5. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A)

McCutchen, 19, has had a very respectable start to his career, moving up quickly to finish 2006 at Double-A Altoona. A member of the elite fraternity of high school outfielders who were drafted in 2005, McCutchen hit 17 home runs and stole 23 bases (31 attempts; 74.2%) in 531 combined High-A and Double-A at-bats. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound former 1st team High School All-American could very well emerge as a Major League star in the coming years.

6. Felix Pie, OF, Chicago Cubs (Triple-A)

Pie has been young for every level in his minor league career. He continues to develop his skills and to grow stronger. Many considered his 2006 season a disappointment, when he hit .283 with 15 home runs and 17 stolen bases (28 attempts; 60.7%).

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound lefty took a few months to adjust Triple-A, but went on to hit .323 with 8 home runs in 52 post all-star games. If he continues to work on his base running skills, Pie’s speed gives him a legit shot at a future 30/30 season.

7. Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (Single-A)

Upton had a disappointing first year at Single-A South Bend, hitting only .263 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases (22 attempts; 68.2%). Upton has the skill set for a future 30/30 season, but 2007 should be very telling in whether or not he will reach the ceiling scouts projected for him entering the 2006 draft. He has incredible hands, a quick bat, and a great frame – at age 19, he is still growing. If Upton improves his already questionable attitude and work ethic, he should be noticeably stronger in 2007 and 2008, leading to some serious HR potential.

8. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds (Single-A)

Thus far, Bruce has easily lived up to his first round billing. This year at Single-A Dayton, he hit an amazing 42 doubles and 16 home runs in 444 at-bats while stealing 19 bases (28 attempts; 67.9%). At 19, Bruce is already 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, which could prove to be a hindrance for his base stealing abilities.

9. Ryan Braun, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers (Double-A)

Braun, 22, would be higher on this list if it weren’t for his position. At 3B, speed isn’t necessarily as coveted as overall power and strength. As Braun continues to work in the weight room, his speed may begin to diminish while his power grows. His incredible bat speed and quick wrists should help him develop into a solid power hitting major league third basemen. In his two Minor League seasons, Braun has compiled 30 stolen bases and 32 home runs in 650 at-bats, including 26 successful steals in 30 attempts (86.7%) between High-A and Double-A in 2006.

10. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati (Double-A)

Votto came into his own in 2006, hitting 22 home runs and stealing 24 bases (31 attempts; 77.4%) in 508 at-bats. His ability to steal bases in 2006 is somewhat of an enigma. Before last season’s breakout, Votto managed to steal a total of 27 bases in 1,549 at-bats, which is a drastic difference from his 2006 totals. Votto’s chances of a 30/30 aren’t great, but they are the best among first base prospects.

Denny Foster can be reached at denny.foster@gmail.com.