Do the Cubs Have a Terrance Gore in Their System?

Photo courtesy of Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Last year the Royals came out of nowhere to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985 and everyone—myself included—was cheering for them because it was such a great story. When they lost in crushing fashion to the Giants in Game Seven of the World Series, I felt as bad as I’ve ever felt after a baseball game. Well, almost.

There were some great stories on that Royals team that made them fun to watch. Lorenzo Cain didn’t even know what baseball was when he was drafted and then he proceeded to put up All-Star numbers. The bullpen trifecta of Herrera, Davis, and Holland brought back memories of the Astros’ vaunted Dotel-Lidge-Wagner combo that essentially made games six innings long. Rookie Yordano Ventura burst onto the scene with a 100 mph fastball.

They weren’t an elite team at any one thing, which is part of what made it so compelling to watch them win. Their best hitter, Alex Gordon, hit 19 home runs and put up an “eh” .783 OPS. But they played together, like a team should, and as a Cub fan I wanted our team to follow in their footsteps with young players playing the game right.

The Royals did a few things very well, including steal bases. They stole more bases than anyone else in baseball (153) thanks to guys like Cain (28), Alcides Escobar (31), and Jarrod Dyson (36). Dyson was considered the fastest man on the team (he stole those bases in only 260 at-bats), that is until they called up a player who spent the bulk of his time in A-ball hitting .218. That guy was Terrance Gore.

If you know anything about baseball, you know that players don’t get called up to the big leagues from A-ball very often. And they NEVER get called up and put on the playoff roster like that. The only time that ever happens is when a player has a skill that’s so far off the charts that they can help the team win regardless of how incomplete his development might be.

Gore is the poster boy for this because Terrance Gore can FLY:

Gore wound up stealing five bases in the regular season and three in the playoffs (never getting an at-bat), giving Ned Yost a killer card to play off the bench.


What does this have to do with the Cubs? Well, if you check the leaderboard for stolen bases today you’ll find the Cubs in second place with 43 steals. No one really stands out—the root cause is a more aggressive approach by Joe Maddon. The Cubs don’t have burners on the team like Dyson or Gore.

But if they make it to the playoffs, wouldn’t Maddon like to have someone like Gore that he can bring off the bench to swipe a base and get into scoring position? And if he did, is there a player in the system that’s fast enough to get called up for the sole purpose of running as fast as he can?

Let’s take a look at the candidates, starting with Gore as a reference.

Player 60 Yard Dash Level Steals (2015) Most Steals/Season
Terrance Gore 6.4 AA 19 68
Matt Szczur 6.6 AAA / ML 6 42
Jacob Hannemann ? A / AA 15 37
John Andreoli 6.76 AAA 15 55
Trey Martin 6.65 A 13 29
Charcer Burks 6.5 A 12 13

Szczur is a known commodity and has already played a fair amount in front of Maddon, so he has a good chance of getting called up. And while he’s certainly fast (the Tribune called him the fastest player in camp this spring), he has a bunch of other skills, like his great defense and newfound power. And while he did steal 51 bases in 2012, he doesn’t really qualify as a Gore-type player because he’s more than just a burner. That being said, it’s much harder to stash a player on the 25-man roster in the National League so maybe Szczur is the only guy we can realistically expect to step in to play this role.

Hannemann is considered by many to be the fastest player in the system. He’s still pretty raw for a 24-year-old, but he’s been very efficient at stealing bases so far in his minor league career (55 for 64 for an 86 percent rate). If I had to fill in a name in the yearbook for “Most likely to play the Terrance Gore role for the Cubs,” I’d probably give it to Hannemann due to his raw speed. Oh and he can play some defense too:

Andreoli may have the slowest dash time of the group, but he did steal 55 bags back in 2012, so he isn’t to be taken lightly. He was also a track and field star, albeit in high school. The one edge Andreoli has on these other players is experience—he’s racked up more steals than anyone else on this list (141)—and unless you’ve got Gore-ish speed, lots of experience comes in handy.

Martin is 22 years old, can’t hit, and can’t draw a walk to save his life—but oh he can run. He stole 29 bases last year and already has 13 this year. He’s yet to be thrown out stealing this year (sorry for the jinx, Trey!). Also worth mentioning is that some rate him as being faster than Hannemann, which makes this an intriguing choice. That has to count for something, especially when your other tools are still “under development.”

Last but not least is Burks, who might be the dark horse of the race. He’s only 20 years old and is the rawest of the bunch. But look at that 6.5 dash time: he’s the closest to Gore of the whole group. He doesn’t have the eye-popping stolen-base totals of some other guys, but neither did Gore at age 20. Burks will probably need a little more time to become a stolen-base threat at the big-league level, but keep an eye out for him.

It’s too early to be thinking about the playoffs, and it’s wayyy too early to be thinking about the kind of player who would take up a spot on the roster as a mere pinch runner, but with the Royals in town it’s a good time to reflect on the impact that speed can have in a high-pressure game with very little margin for error.

That’s what speed do.

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