This week, Baseball America named Minnesota Twins prospect Byron Buxton as their 2013 Minor League Player of the Year. Houston Astros prospect George Springer was a close second according to BA's John Manuel. Both Buxton and Springer stand out for their special combinations of power and speed.
For obvious reasons, fantasy owners like power/speed players because they contribute in multiple categories. It operates the same way in real baseball, of course: the more dimensions a player has to his game, the better.
Here's a look at the players who had top power/speed performances in the minor leagues in 2013. Some names are well-known, others less so. I'm dividing this into two different sections: "The Big Names" that everyone knows, and "Others to Watch." The list is alphabetical within sections.
This article does not include short-season players or 2013 draftees/signees. There are others worthy of inclusion on a pure tools basis (Jorge Soler and Albert Almora in the Cubs system for example), but I wanted to focus on players who played a complete season in 2013.
THE BIG NAMES
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B-SS, Cubs: .271/.352/.451 with 15 homers, 31 steals in 37 attempts. Very solid season in Double-A at age 21, across-the-board skills.
Javier Baez, SS, Cubs: .282/.341/.578, 37 homers, 20 steals in 24 attempts. Best-known for his enormous power but he's a threat on the bases as well. Only 20, thrived in Double-A despite continued strikeout issues.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers: Hit .237/.322/.427 with 21 homers, 24 steals in 31 attempts. Part of all-prospect lineup at Low-A Hickory, extremely athletic but also whiffed 191 times. Just 19, has time to correct things.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins: Hit .334/.424/.520, 12 homers, 55 steals in 74 attempts. Platinum standard by which others are judged, and the best overall prospect in baseball at age 19. Drawing Mike Trout comps, and is similar to where Trout was at the same age.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals. .252/.355/.407, 10 homers, 19 steals in 30 attempts in Double-A. Has the tools to do much better than this, but needs to make progress next year at age 23.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers: Hit .305/.365/.474 with 41 doubles, 11 homers, 32 steals in 42 attempts, hit great in Double-A at age 19. Could see more power out of him as he matures.
Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks: Hit .330/.359/.482 with 31 doubles, 12 homers, 20 steals in 27 attempts for Triple-A Reno at age 21. League/park boosted stats, but has across-the-board tools.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers: Hit .278/.381/.497 with 22 homers, 31 steals in 39 attempts in Double-A at age 21. Serious problems against left-handed pitching (.568 OPS), but kills righties (1.029 OPS) and could make a really useful platoon guy. Young enough for more.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates: Hit .285/.356/.434, 12 homers, 38 steals in 49 attempts, finished season in Triple-A at age 21. Should show more power as he matures.
Cesar Puello, OF, Mets: Hit .326/.403/.547 with 16 homers, 24 steals in 31 attempts in Double-A at age 22 before being suspended in connection with Biogenesis scandal. Always had the tools but suddenly learned to use them. Will that be true next year?
Addison Russell, SS, Athletics: Hit .269/.369/.495 with 17 homers, 21 steals in 24 attempts at age 19. Overmatched at times in High-A but was youngest regular in the league and made adjustments. Very high ceiling.
George Springer, OF, Astros: Hit .303/.411/.600, 37 homers, 45 steals in 53 attempts between Double-A and Triple-A. Yeah, he's got the strikeout issues and he's not as young as Buxton at age 23, but he'll take a walk at least and has nothing left to prove in the minors. Even if he doesn't hit for a high average, his other skills will compensate.
Bubba Starling, OF, Royals: Hit .241/.329/.398 with 13 homers, 22 steals in 25 attempts in Low-A at age 20. Stands out for remarkable tools, still learning to hit. Springer was still in college at the same age working out his swing, and if Starling pans out he could be something like Springer.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals: Hit .303/.369/.466 with 10 homers, 20 steals in 21 attempts in Triple-A at age 22. Doesn't have the pure tools of some of these other guys, but outstanding instincts help compensate.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Abraham Almonte, OF, Mariners: Hit .300/.394/.482 with 15 homers, 26 steals in 34 attempts in Double-A/Triple-A. Surge season at age 24, could be reliable fourth outfielder.
Aaron Altherr, OF, Phillies: Hit .275/.337/.455 with 12 homers, 23 steals in 28 attempts in High-A at age 22. Good tools, very gradually learning to use them, strikes out a lot.
Junior Arias, OF, Reds: .272/.305/.436 with 15 homers, 60 steals in 80 attempts. Huge steal numbers with some power in A-ball at age 21, but has horrible plate discipline problems (18 walks, 132 strikeouts) that hold him back.
Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox: Hit .314/.417/.506 with 15 homers, 38 steals in 44 attempts in A-ball at age 20. Breakout season, shows excellent contact hitting ability with 81 walks, only 57 strikeouts.
Jabari Blash, OF, Mariners: .271/.381/.534, 25 homers, 15 steals in 24 attempts. Older prospect age 24, but has power and can run some; oddly more effective with Double-A Jackson than he was down at High Desert bandbox.
Chris Bostick, 2B, Athletics: Hit .282/.354/.452 with 14 homers, 25 steals in 33 attempts in Low-A at age 20. Will have to watch whiffs at higher levels (fanned 122 times) but otherwise had a fine season.
Andy Burns, INF, Blue Jays: Hit .288/.346/.470 with 15 homers, 33 steals in 47 attempts between High-A and Double-A at age 22. Probably a utility infielder, but a good one.
Noel Cuevas, OF, Dodgers: Hit .284/.341/.454 with 12 homers, 38 steals in 53 attempts in High-A at age 21. Needs better reads on the bases and better strike zone judgment to thrive at higher levels.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Astros: Hit .271/.328/.435 with 13 homers, 24 steals in 35 attempts in Low-A. Another guy with good tools, some speed and raw power, but issues with contact (135 whiffs). Young enough to improve at 20.
Rosell Herrera, SS, Rockies: Hit .343/.419/.515 with 33 doubles, 16 homers, 21 steals in 29 attempts in Low-A at age 20. Looks good, but showed most of his power at Asheville bandbox (.635 SLG) and will have to prove himself at higher levels.
Scott Schebler, OF, Dodgers: .296/.360/.581, 27 homers, 16 steals in 21 attempts in High-A. Good athlete with real speed and power, but (this sounds familiar doesn't it) he has contact problems (140 strikeouts) and is impatient. Age 22. Double-A will be illuminating.
Marcus Semien, INF, White Sox: Hit .284/.401/.479 with 19 homers, 24 steals in 29 attempts, also drew 98 walks in Double-A/Triple-A at age 22. Has exceeded expectations, particularly with his power. Don't sleep on him.
Jesus Solorzano, OF, Marlins: Hit .285/.325/.450 with 15 homers, 33 steals in 37 attempts in Low-A. Older for the level at age 22/23, and has serious strike zone issues (24 walks, 111 strikeouts) but has enough tools to watch.
Steven Souza, OF, Nationals: Hit .297/.396/.548 with 15 homers, 22 steals in 28 attempts in Double-A at age 24. Erratic career with injuries and lots of strikeouts and a '10 PED suspension, but tools have always been here and he's mashed when healthy.
Darnell Sweeney, INF, Dodgers: Hit .275/.329/.455 with 11 homers, 48 steals in 68 attempts in High-A. Like teammates Schebler and Cuevas, he has contact troubles and needs to hit outside the Cal League.
Michael Taylor, OF, Nationals: Hit .263/.340/.426 with 41 doubles, 10 homers, 51 steals in 58 attempts in High-A at age 22. Good tools, uses his speed well, but contact problems (131 strikeouts) warrant caution for Double-A.
Trayce Thompson, OF, White Sox: Hit .229/.321/.383 with 15 homers, 25 steals in 33 attempts in Double-A at age 22. Scouts love his tools but he is still trying to work out his hitting skills. A long shot, but with a high ceiling.
Kyle Waldrop, OF, Reds: Hit .258/.304/.462 with 21 homers, 20 steals in 28 attempts in High-A at age 21. Good tools, fast and strong, but this is another guy with approach issues and a poor BB/K ratio who needs to hit outside the Cal League.
Adam Brett Walker, OF, Twins: Hit .278/.319/.526 with 27 homers, 10 steals in 10 attempts in Low-A at age 21. He also has contact/approach problems and needs to show he can do this at higher levels. Although his running speed is average, he is a remarkably good basestealer: since his freshman year of college, he has stolen 54 bases in 55 attempts.
BONUS PLAYER FOR READING THIS FAR:
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers: .251/.338/.623, 40 homers, 15 steals in 16 attempts. Did you know he is 21-for-22 in 170 games as a basestealer in his pro career? I didn't either. The steals won't stick around as he gets older, but it says something about his instincts.