Hamlton Breaks Record

Last season Billy Hamilton was the first minor leaguer in over a decade to steal 100 bases. This year he passed the century mark around midseason and Tuesday broke Vince Coleman's record of 145 swipes in 1983. Hamilton is the top-rated prospect remaining in the Reds system and had been getting on base with an AVG/OB% over .300/.400 while splitting time at high-A Bakersfield and AA Pensacola.

Pensacola made up for a rain-out Monday by getting swept at home by Montgomery 4-2 and 3-1. In the first game the Wahoos tied the score at two in the bottom of the seventh on a home run by Tucker Barnhart before losing in the eighth, which was an extra inning in the abbreviated DH game. Beau Mills had two of the four fish hits. Tony Cingrani threw a quality start by allowing two runs on three hits and two walks in seven innings while striking out seven. Justin Freeman entered in the eight and gave up the game winner for his sixth loss.

In the second contest the Biscuits took the lead with a run in the fifth and added on another two innings later while holding on for a win in seven innings. Donald Lutz had two of the Wahoos four hits and drove in their only run. Chad Rogers got the start and allowed one run on two hits in four innings without a walk for no decision. Josh Ravin relieved him and allowed an unearned run which was enough to hang the loss on him.

The Blue Wahoo entered the day with an opportunity to tie Montgomery for first place in the Southern League South Division but instead they now find themselves four games out with twelve left to play. They get two more shots at the Biscuits before they leave town after the five-game set.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Yesterday Hamilton stamped a seal on his claim as the greatest base-stealer in minor league history. It was expected that he would break Vince Coleman's record of 145 stolen bases in a single season set in 1983. Hamilton passed the mark early yesterday by swiping four in the first game. Coleman set his record in the low-A South Atlantic League games and passed the century mark again in 1984 at AA Louisville. Last season Hamilton became the first minor leaguer in over ten years to steal 100 in a season while he was at Dayton. This season he's split 121 games between high-A Bakersfield and AA Pensacola.

The 21 year-old Mississippian led off the Wahoo's first inning with a walk and was denied a chance to steal second by an errant throw on a pickoff attempt. He did swipe third before the inning ended. He broke the record on another "double-steal" inning in the third. He singled with two outs and stole both second and third during the next at-bat. He led off the eighth with a walk and stole second again. In the second game he walked in the third and was picked off first. He had now has 147 steals out of 180 attempts for a success rate of 81.7%.

Many analysts rate Hamilton as the top prospect remaining in the Reds system and one of the top 50 in all of baseball. The shortstop did a lot to improve his status earlier this season at Bakersfield where he hit .323/.413 OB% in 82 games which ended with a trip to the California/Carolina all-star game and a promotion to AA. He also participated in the Futures game during the MLB all-star break. At first he spent a few weeks getting used to higher level pitching and now his AA average is at .301/.425.

Glove work was high on Hamilton's list of development coming into the season. Even though there is some speculation that there might be a position change in his future, the Reds have opted to leave him at shortstop because of his quickness. He's made six errors in 38 games since his promotion to Pensacola. That is about half the frequency that he'd committed them before.

Hamilton is perhaps the most exciting player in minor league baseball today. He has the speed to inflict havoc on opposing defenses when he's on base and his success at the plate this season shows that he knows the way to first. He's developed a keen eye and has walked in almost 17% of his plate appearances. Sometimes that speed takes away steal opportunities as 35 of his 150 hits have gone for extra bases. Of course his reputation and aggressiveness on the base paths has gained many extra bags from errant throws from pickoff and steal attempts.

Looking at the status of the pipeline above him, his improvement with the leather will be needed to move up at shortstop. Rookie Zach Cozart has a solid glove with the Reds and Didi Gregorious at Louisville has the ability to make the highlight play in the field. With his speed he may project well in centerfield. Reds fans are hopeful that one day he will provide the elusive leadoff hitter, which is a spot in their lineup that has the lowest on-base percentage in MLB. Regardless where he's playing in the future, one thing can be assured: He will be stealing bases.

Other News from the Farm:

Louisville came back from a five run deficit to take the lead before losing to visiting Columbus 10-7. Felix Perez had three hits to raise his average to .299. Didi Gregorius added two hits and drove in two. Tim Gustafson got the start and was roughed up for five runs in three innings. Nick Masset entered in the seventh and took the loss when he allowed three runs without getting an out against six hitters.

Bakersfield scored a run in each of their last three at-bats to win at home over Inland Empire by a score of 5-2. Theo Bowe and Ryan Wright had two hits each including a solo shot by Wright who has now homered in four consecutive games. Josh Smith had a quality start by allowing two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out six for the win. Carlos Contreras struck out the side in order in the ninth for the save.

Dayton scored twice in three different innings in a 6-3 win at Fort Wayne. Sean Buckley had two doubles and two walks while driving in three. He's now 5-7 with seven RBI over the last two games. Juan Perez and Sammy Diaz also had two hits apiece. Radhames Quezada got the start and allowed only two hits and a walk while tossing four shutout innings and striking out five. Wes Mugarian relieved him and allowed two in four innings which was good enough for the win.

Billings allowed a walk-off home run in a 5-3 loss at Idaho Falls. Carlos Sanchez, Zachary Vincej, and Robert Ramirez had two hits each for the Mustangs. Jonathan Moscot got the start and allowed three hits in three scoreless innings. Bennett Klimesh entered in the ninth and allowed two runs for the loss.

The AZL Reds won at home over the AZL Brewers 1-0 in a rain-shortened six inning game. Humberto Valor, Jonathan Reynoso, and Daniel Paula each had two of the six Reds hits. Nicholas Travieso allowed four hits and one walk in four scoreless innings while striking out four. Wandy Peralta completed the shutout by throwing the last two innings for the win.

The DSL Reds blew open their game on a Deyvi Burgos grand slam in the fourth inning and cruised to a 10-5 win at the DSL Orioles. Jose Fernandez, Johan Rodriguez, and Burgos each had two hits and a walk. Eury Cantalizo improved his record to 7-2 by allowing one unearned run on four hits and no walks in five innings while striking out six.

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