Thursday, April 5, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Don’t be surprised if Anthony Gose runs his way into the Las Vegas 51s record book.
The 51s, which at 7:05 p.m. Thursday open their 30th season of minor league baseball in Las Vegas by hosting the Sacramento RiverCats at Cashman Field, haven’t had a player steal more than 41 bases since 2003.
Then again, they haven’t had a base runner with Gose’s speed and awareness on the base paths.
Gose, 21, will be making his Triple-A debut this year, bringing an exciting base-running ability to Las Vegas that several believe make him a sure-thing future big leaguer. Baseball America ranks him as the organization’s No. 2 prospect, while MLB.com considers him the No. 57 overall prospect in all of baseball.
He has 194 stolen bases in four seasons, swiping 70 last year while only being caught 15 times. In 2009, he stole 76 bases.
“The secret is to run fast,” Gose jokingly said about his success on the bases. “I don’t know what the secret is. I really don’t.”
After drawing a leadoff walk last week in an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, Gose stole three straight bases — second, third and home — for the winning run. That feat has only been accomplished 50 times in major league history.
"I never saw anybody steal second, third and home in the same inning in my career," Blue Jays manager John Farrell told the Associated Press. "He is obviously exciting. He can take over on the basepaths. He has a combination of pure speed, plus the ability to read some things. You just turn him loose. He's a pure basestealer."
He’ll beat you with more than his legs.
In Double-A last year, Gose had 16 home runs and 57 RBIs in helping New Hampshire win the Eastern League title. And, because of his speed, he’s a superior defender in the outfield because he’s able to cover a lot of ground.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, the Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect and Eastern League MVP last year who will also be a star attraction on this year’s Las Vegas team, has seen Gose chase down several seemingly impossible-to-catch balls in the outfield.
“I have the best view in a house for it. I’m right of the plate for it,” d’Arnaud said. “It is amazing. It makes me want to come to the field every day.”
The Las Vegas franchise record for steals in a season is 62 by Will Taylor in 1991. That’s a mark Gose could take aim at depending how he adjusts to the elevated talent level at Triple-A.
“These are older, established catchers and pitchers and veterans. They know the ropes,” Gose said. “I’m not going to trick them in any way. I’m not going to do anything they haven’t seen already. It is a matter of working hard and competing. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to steal 70 again.”
51s manager Marty Brown plans on giving Gose the green light to steal whenever he is on base.
“Anthony is pretty special when it comes to his instincts,” Brown said. “Obviously, he is pretty fast, but it is (also his) instincts. He is not scared to take a chance. He is not scared to get thrown out. He is not scared to go from first to third. He will push the envelope when he is on the base.”
If Gose does have a weakness in his game, it’s with making contact at the plate. He struck out 154 times last year and is just a .253 career hitter, which are below average numbers for someone so deadly once he gets on base.
But, with his talent, that could easily be fixable in Triple-A. Remember, he’s just 21 years old — a fact of which he’s well aware.
“It is great to be here. They say you are only a phone call away — it is a long distance phone call,” Gose said. “Hopefully, I can get off to a good start and have a real consistent season and one day be in the big leagues.”
Opening week promotions: Opening night will also be the team’s popular Dollar Beer Night. Friday, there will be a fireworks show after the game and multiple giveaways for flat-screen televisions. On Saturday, the first 2,500 fans will receive a 51s T-shirt.