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Future Category Winners: Stolen Bases

Christopher Crawford
Christopher Crawford takes a look at prospects who can help you in the future in the stolen base category.

If you play fantasy baseball -- and you know you do -- you know that there are players who are going to help you in certain categories more than others. We like to call these players "category winners."

As a prospect person, I thought it'd be prudent to give you some players who can help you win those various categories in the short and long-term.

Next up, stolen bases. Here's a look at some prospects who have a chance to help you in the steals category upon their promotion to the majors.

2019 helpers 

Garrett Hampson, INF, Colorado Rockies -- Hampson doesn't have elite speed, but it's easily plus, and he gets good reads off pitchers. He's currently in a battle to win the second base job with Ryan McMahon, but while McMahon has the better power, Hampson is more likely to hit for average on top of those steals, and he's a better defender on that side of the bag as well. Even if Hampson starts the year in Triple-A for whatever reason, he's going to spend a lot of time in Colorado, and he should run a lot as soon as the promotion takes place.  

Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals -- Robles has above-average tools across the board, but inarguably, the best tool in his bag is his speed. He stole 19 bases in 52 games in the minors last year, and while he isn't immune to the occasional bad jump, he's generally ahead of the curve in that regard. Robles should hit at the top of the lineup for most of the year, and he should get a chance to be a 30-plus steal player in 2019 and beyond. 

Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros -- Tucker struggled upon his promotion to the majors last year, and there's no guarantee he gets significant time with Houston this year because of their outfield depth. That being said, the talent is obvious, and if Tucker is up, he has a chance to pile up the steals. His speed is only average, but very few runners are more aggressive in the minors, and it's clear he can read pitchers and their first move well. Tucker should give you 15-to-20 steals, it's just not a lock that it's this year. 

Kevin Newman, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates -- Like Hampson, Newman is not a lock to start the year with his club, as he's battling for the second base job with Adam Frazier. With all due respect to Frazier, Newman offers more upside, and should see the bulk of the playing time down the stretch. With his short, compact stroke, Newman can get on base at a strong clip, and he should get a chance to run once he's on. Ignore the poor numbers in the majors last year, Newman can help you in this category. 

Jorge Mateo, SS, Oakland Athletics -- This is the riskiest profile of the five names listed for 2019, but it's also the one who has the most upside. Mateo was acquired in the deal for Sonny Gray, and there aren't many faster players in minor league baseball. He's also shown the ability to hit for average with some sneaky power, but he was awful in 2018 with a .633 OPS with 139 strikeouts in 131 games. We've seen a lot of good from Mateo as well to go along with the questionable (we're being nice), and if he makes more hard contact, he could help Oakland this year, and help you in the steals category in the process. He's at the very least worth monitoring. 

Future helpers

Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays -- Brujan is one of the most underrated fantasy prospects in baseball, and one of the best bets to give you steals in the future. He picked up 55 in 2018, and with a chance to hit for average along with an improving approach at the plate, he could give you a similar total when he's ready in a couple of years. 

Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins -- Lewis was the first pick of the 2017 MLB Draft, and one of the reasons the Twins popped the shortstop with that pick was his impressive athleticism. He stole 28 bases last year, and as he gets more comfortable reading pitchers, that total should go up. It doesn't hurt that he has an advanced hit tool and willingness to draw walks. 

Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves -- We're doing a little bit of guesswork here. Pache only stole seven bases last year, but that total should go up in the future. It better, or placing him on this look will make me look stupid, and we don't want that, do we? Pache has plus-plus speed, and I expect the 20-year-old outfielder to start running more in the near future. He's one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and his hit tool seems to get better each year, so yeah, there's big steals potential for Pache. There should be, anyway.

Nick Madrigal, SS, Chicago White Sox -- The third pick of last June's draft, Madrigal has a plus run grade, and he showed it off with eight steals in just 43 games in his first taste of professional baseball. He has elite barrel control, and his ability to make hard contact to all parts of the field should help him get on often. We expect Madrigal to get the green light often, too.

Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves -- Waters was the 41st pick of the 2017 draft, and he impressed in his first professional season with a .293 average and 23 steals in 28 attempts. The left-handed hitting outfielder needs to show a better approach at the plate, but he makes hard contact to the opposite field, and once he's on, his 65-grade speed should give pitchers/catchers fits. Waters could hit at the top of the lineup if he shows more selectivity, but even as is, he's a 30-steal candidate.