The Blazin’ Brigade in Bakersfield


Not exactly what you might think by reading this title. One player Reds fans tend to have an eye on that’s a member of the Blaze roster is last year’s first round pick Yasmani Grandal. While he is having a good season out in the California League, he’s not the only one…by far.

We frequently hear of all the thievery by Billy Hamilton in Dayton. While it is extremely impressive, there is some speed at the High-A level, too.

There are four Blaze payers that currently have 10+ stolen bases. The leader among this foursome is former Indiana Hoosier AJ Means. Means actually played two sports at Indiana. He was also a wide receiver for two seasons where he compiled 102 catchers for 1,272 yards and 2 TD. He was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for his redshirt sophomore season. As a member of the baseball team, Means produced more impressive numbers.

In his freshman season, he hit for a .301 average, was 16 for 18 in steals and scored 16 runs. All of those numbers increased for Means and his sophomore campaign. Batting .369, having 27 steals in 30 attempts and scoring 32 runs all led the Hoosiers. His junior (and final) season in Bloomington was impressive as well. A .357 batting average and going 33 for 39 in steals was good. But scoring 72 runs is simply outrageous. For his college career, Means was 76 for 87 in steals and scored 120 runs. He was named a Big Ten Conference All-Star in 2008

Now you got a bit of an idea that Means has speed.

After you see these numbers, you might say he has no worse than plus speed. Since Means became a member of the Reds organization as 11th round pick in 2008, he is 69 for 74 in stolen base attempts (22 for 23 this season). That’s a 93% success rate. I would say we can make that plus-plus speed.

A former foe has joined Means on the stolen base front.

Ryan LaMarre attended the University of Michigan and was selected in the 2nd round in last year’s draft. LaMarre also posted some nice numbers as a member of the Wolverines. His final season, LaMarre batted .419, had an on-base percentage of .453 and a slugging percentage of .649. During his three seasons in Ann Arbor, LaMarre was 28 for 43 (65%) in steals while also amassing 122 runs scored. He was also named to the All Big Ten Team in 2010.

While he hasn’t had the success rate of Means, LaMarre has improved his base stealing ability in the one year he’s been in the Reds farm system. Between Dayton last season and Bakersfield this season, LaMarre is 33 for 44 (75%). He currently is second on the Blaze with 14 thefts.

Henry Rodriguez came into the Reds fold as a 17 year old from Venezuela. He’s done nothing but impress since his first season in the Venezuelan and Dominican Leagues. While he didn’t steal much at those stops (5 for 7 total), that aspect of his game would soon take off the next year. Rodriguez was 21 of 28 the next season and he had another too at his disposal.

And Rodriguez used the tool well last year as a member of the Dayton Dragons. In going 33 for 46, Rodriguez would earn a spot in the Midwest League’s All-Star Game. He runs, hits, and hits with pop. And to add to his honors, Rodriguez was named the Reds organizational player of the month for May.

Last, but certainly not least, on this list is yet another pick from the 2010 draft in Brodie Greene. The former Texas A&M Aggie didn’t really test the waters of steals until his junior season. Previous to the 2009 season, Greene was 14 for 17. In his last to season in College Station, those numbers increased significantly to 34 for 43. That would make him 47 steals in 60 attempts for his college career, a 78% success rate. Not bad at all.

And that has transferred to his professional game, too. He’s gone 18 for 26 in his steals for a 69% rate. A bit lower success rate than his college career, but there are nuances to be learned.

And with Ken Griffey looking over all of these four, I think the basepaths will continue to blaze.