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Squeezing Steals Out Of Anthony Gose

Injuries have defined the Blue Jays' season so far, with the pitching staff feeling the brunt of the impact. The injury bug leaked over to the position player side of things on Monday night, when Jose Bautista came up holding his left wrist after pulling a ball foul down the line in a game against the Yankees. He left the game and x-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed what is either inflammation or a strain depending on who you ask. It's probably a little of both, the two can be related. Either way, Bautista has been placed on the DL and will miss at least two weeks.

To take his spot, Toronto recalled top outfield prospect Anthony Gose from Triple-A. He was hitting .292/.375/.432 with 18 doubles, ten triples, five homers, and 29 steals in 436 plate appearances for Las Vegas at the time of the recall. The left-handed hitting Gose sat on Tuesday night - understandable against CC Sabathia -  before making his first start and going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts yesterday. He is expected to be the everyday right fielder during Bautista's absence with the occasional game on the bench against tough lefties.

The 21-year-old Gose is well traveled already, going from the Phillies to the Astros in the Roy Oswalt trade before being flipped to the Jays for Brett Wallace. ESPN's Keith Law ranked him as the 59th best prospect in baseball before the season, noting that Gose now "stays back better and repeats his swing in a way he couldn't before, resulting in higher-quality contact and the chance for average power." His outfield defense - he's a true center fielder playing right in deference to the incumbent Colby Rasmus - is excellent and enough to keep him in the lineup even when he's struggling at the plate, and playing time is always a concern for fantasy rookies.

Triple-A Las Vegas is one of the most extreme hitters' environments in baseball, inflating offense by almost ten percent according to the park factors at StatCorner. It would be easy to write off Gose as a product of that ballpark if he had a huge home/road split, but this year it was actually a reserve split. He hit .259/.351/.395 in 46 home games compared to .313/.397/.469 in 46 road games before the call-up. Besides, we're not looking at Gose as someone who can come up and mash, adding homers and RBI to our counting stats. He's a steals candidate.

Gose has swiped at least 45 bases in each of the last three seasons - including two 70+ steal seasons - and is likely to get there again this year. He's efficient (74% success rate) but not insanely successful in his stolen base attempts, so keep that in mind if you use net steals. Bautista isn't expected to miss too much time but Gose could still force his way into the regular lineup with an assist from Rajai Davis' recent slump. If he proves useful over the next two weeks, the at-bats will be there for him in left field. You might take a hit in batting average and almost certainly will get no help in the power or run production departments, but steals can be hard to come by this late in the season and few players offer as much stolen base potential as the guy Toronto just called up.


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