Coming into the 2011 season, probably no one would have predicted that Greg Miclat would lead the Orioles organization in stolen bases this season with 50.
In his first three seasons in the O's minors, after he was drafted in round five out of the University of Virginia in 2008, Miclat had stolen 41 bases total in 57 attempts. Plus, we are talking about a player that has decent, but certainly not blazing, speed.
But the 24-year-old Miclat went 50-for-53 in steal attempts this season for Double-A Bowie, finishing second in the Eastern League in steals and 13th in all of minor league baseball.
After successfully stealing on 72 percent of his tries his first three seasons, Miclat was good on 94 percent this year.
Gary Kendall, his manager with Bowie, said Miclat worked hard to become a good base stealer.
"I managed him in Aberdeen after he signed and what he showed from the start was a lot of instincts," Kendall said. "He has a good comfort level on the bases, taking leads. He reads pitchers, he studies them. He has the ability to peek once in a while at catchers' signs.
"If you look at the kind of runner he is, if you graded out his raw speed, it doesn't add up with the amount of stolen bases he has. He's a guy that just works really hard and has instincts on the bases.
"He really impacted our lineup batting second in the order. We could get (Xavier) Avery and him on ahead of the middle of the order. When we played well, those two at the top of the lineup was a good combination."
A switch-hitter who played shortstop his first three seasons, Miclat moved to second base for the Baysox in 2011 and his defense was solid. His offense really picked up as the season went on. He hit just .241 through the end of June, but batted .333 after that.
Miclat ended the year on the disabled list with a left thumb injury, but he recovered enough to take part in the some of the instructional league workouts.
In 120 Baysox games, Miclat hit .280 with 16 doubles, two homers and 24 RBIs. He had an on-base percentage of .371 and OPS of .718.
"He got off to a slow start, where he was hitting under .200," Kendall said. "(Hitting coach) Denny (Hocking) worked a lot with him on his hands - where he was working more on a direct path to the ball and he wasn't working much uphill. Fly balls suddenly became line drives. He'll hit the ball on the ground, he'll take a walk. Offensively, he was a big catalyst for us.
"He had an above-average year in all facets. Defensively, he stepped up and made plays. He was asked to play a little shortstop and he played well over there."
Miclat began the year going 36-for-36 with steals before his first caught stealing in game two of a doubleheader at New Britain on July 29 when he was picked off first base.
But he would add 14 more stolen bases during what was a bit of a breakout season. There was even talk that he could have been a September call-up for the Orioles if he had not gotten hurt in late August.
He is a player that seems to have what Buck Showalter calls that "want to."
"You never know what is inside of a player, that spark on the inside. Sometimes they see players go to the big leagues that they feel they can compete against. I know, deep down inside, Greg Miclat feels he's a major league player and we do, too. Hopefully, he gets that shot," Kendall said.
O's 2011 minor league leaders in stolen bases:
50 - Greg Miclat, Bowie
41 - Kyle Hudson, Triple-A Norfolk
36 - Xavier Avery, Bowie
35 - Miguel Abreu, Single-A Frederick
30 - Dale Mollenhauer, Frederick