Speed Demon: Syracuse Chiefs' rookie Boomer Whiting can't slow down

How fast is Syracuse Chiefs outfielder Boomer Whiting?

He plunks down a bunt and races to first before the pitcher has time to pick up the ball.

When he's on first with second open, he's off to swipe that keystone sack before you can blink an eye. And then his attention turns to third.

How fast is Boomer Whiting? On Aug. 6 in Rochester, he reached first on a single to left, stole second, took third when he forced an overthrow, and then he stole home!

How fast is Boomer Whiting? Since being promoted to Syracuse from Advanced Single-A pro ball at Potomac on May 31, the 26-year-old outfielder has swiped 31 bases to contend for the top spot among this season's International League stolen-base leaders.

Wreaking 'havoc'

Though he's a devoted Christian with a positive attitude and an easy smile, Whiting invariably uses violent terms to describe his baseball calling. He talks about wreaking "havoc" on the basepaths, "exploding" off his lead and "exploding" again when he slides into the bag.

An effective bunter, Boomer brushes off taunts from opposing pitchers who want him to take a full swing.

"I'm always looking to disrupt the pitcher," he said. "I know I have the ability to get the ball on the ground [by bunting], and the pitchers, they don't like to field their position." That can be a real advantage for a 5-foot-10,170-pound player like Whiting who won't generally blast the ball out of the park. Instead, he uses his foot speed to get around the bases.

He models himself after his childhood hero, Kenny Lofton, the happy-go-lucky Cleveland Indians outfielder who stole more bases than anyone else in the American League from 1992 to '96 and often beat out bunts for singles.

In Whiting's first game with the Chiefs on May 31 in Buffalo, he singled in each of his first three at-bats, and two of those hits were bunts.

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