Padres Hand Out July’s Minor League Awards
By Tim Richer
Top Baserunner: Mallex Smith (Class A Advanced)
With Billy Hamilton finally moving on to the big leagues someone had to take the reigns as minor leagues top base stealer. That person happens to be Padres’ prospect Mallex Smith. Smith has swiped 80 bags so far in 2014, but his effort in July trumps everything else he’s done thus far. Last month he was successful in 25 of his 32 attempts to help pad his already impressive total.
It’s not just elite speed that makes a great base stealer, it’s instincts and the ability to read the pitcher. Those same instincts are also what helps make Smith not just a great baserunner, but the Padres’ best baserunner. While I don’t have any stats to prove that he has those instincts other than his stolen base total, I trust the Padres evaluation of him as a top tier baserunner. Guys with great speed can utilize it to elevate their game like we’ve seen with Billy Hamilton this season, but it can’t be your only tool. A guy like Quentin Berry comes to mind. He comes around every September to be the pinch runner in tight games for a contender. Although he did get a ring out of it last year, I’m sure the Padres would prefer to see Smith’s career follow the trajectory of Hamilton rather than Berry.