Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds’ Double-A affiliate has racked up 147 stolen bases on the season, eclipsing Vince Coleman’s professional record of 145. Coleman was also a minor-leaguer at the time and set his mark in 1983.
Hamilton accomplished the feat on Tuesday when he swiped four bags for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
Hamilton, who stole 103 bases in 2011 with the single-A Dayton Dragons, is also having a fine year at the plate. His combined stats (including his time with high-A Bakersfield Blaze) this season include a batting average of .317, an OPS of .852 and 14 triples in 473 at-bats.
Now the question is whether the Reds will call him up before the end of the month, so he can be on their playoff roster if they make the postseason as expected. Per MLB rules, a player has to be added to a team’s 25-man roster prior to September in order to be eligible for said team’s postseason roster. Rosters expand in September – and Hamilton will likely be called up to be a pinch-runner if nothing else – but will he be called up in time to be on the projected playoff roster? That remains to be seen.
But we should leave that discussion for another day anyway. This is all about celebrating an excellent accomplishment. Hamilton is going to be fun to watch in future years as he wreaks havoc on the basepaths ahead of Joey Votto in the Reds’ batting order. This is a kid that knows how to get on base. You don’t steal 147 bags with a Drew Stubbs approach at the plate. Hamilton has 80 walks on the season and an on-base percentage of .417.
He doesn’t have much power and never will, but he does have room to put on muscle on his skinny frame. The 6-foot-1 Hamilton tips the scales at just 160 pounds. So, he’s sure to add a little more pop as he gets older and adds strength, but he’s always going to be a slap hitter. And that’s exactly what he should be. With his ability to get on base and his elite speed, trying to hit for power would be the worst thing he could do.
As for that “elite speed” … scouts are unanimous Hamilton is the fastest player by far in professional baseball right now (including MLB and all levels of the minors). I would love to know what he could run in the 40 right now (was listed at 4.3 in high school) and the 100.
Hamilton, who hails from Taylorsville, Miss., was a four-sport star in high school (baseball, basketball, football, track) and accepted a football scholarship from Mississippi State prior to being selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2009 draft.
The MLB record for single-season steals of 130 was set by Rickey Henderson in 1980.