Royals prospect Terrance Gore was caught stealing Sunday in his game with Class A Lexington.
That’s noteworthy, because it’s just the sixth time this season that Gore has been nabbed, while he’s piled up 59 stolen bases.
Reds prospect Billy Hamilton swiped 155 bases at two minor-league stops a year ago and is regarded by many as the fastest man in the minor leagues.
However, Royals’ assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo isn’t so sure after watching Gore, the 5-foot-7, 165-pound outfielder who was selected in the 20th round of the 2011 draft.
“I don’t know if (Gore is) the fastest guy in the minor leagues, but I’d like to see who it is if they’re any faster,” Picollo said. “Billy Hamilton is one name that jumps out, but on our scale of 20 to 80, Terrance is probably a 90 or 100 runner.
“He’s just off the charts with his speed. He knows how to use it and he’s picked up some knowledge in reading moves and knowing when to run and when a guy slide steps, he shuts it down. So he’s picked up some nuances on becoming a very good base stealer.”
According to the fine web site MLBfarm.com, Gore’s 59 steals are the fourth-most for any minor-league player this season, trailing Micah Johnson (71) of the White Sox, Hamilton (60) and Travis Jankowski (60) of the Padres.
The big difference is the other three have been caught stealing between 12 and 23 times, which is far more than Gore.
Getting on base is still a struggle for Gore, who is batting just .228. However, Picollo is seeing improvement.
“The pieces are starting to fall into place and he’s making better at-bats and he’s getting on base more often,” Picollo said, “so he’s been a fun guy to watch.”
Gore, 22, is still at Lexington, so it’s no surprise there are other areas that need improvement.
“It’s kind of typical stuff with guys who are speed players,” Picollo said. “He hits the ball in the air more than he needs to. He’s the kind of guy who needs to make the infielders handle the ball. The third baseman already has to shorten up on him, the shortstop has to shorten up on him, because the routine ground balls, if they don’t get to it quickly, it’s bang-bang or he’s going to beat it out at first.
“So the infield tends to open up for him the more he can hit the ball on the ground. He’s more likely to find some holes.”
Picollo said Gore’s two-strike approach could use improvement, but that’s not uncommon for a player in Class A. Apparently, Gore has been soaking up the instruction.
“He’s a pleasure to work with, he’s got great make-up, he wants to learn, he wants to apply,” Picollo said. “All in all, from the beginning to the end of this year, he’s going to make more strides than he has in any other year of his baseball life.”
And, as they say, you can’t teach speed.
“Really, anytime he gets on first base, there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to be on second within a pitch or two and possibly even on third base before the big hitters come to bat,” Picollo said. “It’s a great weapon. It’s the reason he was signed.”