Each Wednesday timberrattlers.com will countdown the top 20 seasons by a Timber Rattler until #1 is revealed on August 29th. This week: #10
Jamal Strong 2001
.353 batting average, 41 runs, 65 hits, 12 doubles, 1 triples, 19 rbi's, 35 stolen bases
Strong was drafted twice in the late rounds by the Pittsburgh Pirates (1996 & '97), but it wasn't until the Mariners selected him in the 6th round in 2000 that Jamal decided to start his pro career. The speedster had stolen 69 bases during the 1999 and 2000 seasons at Nebraska, and kept right on running when he reported to Everett shortly after signing. He stole an amazing 60 bases in 75 games with the AquaSox while hitting .314 and was named Co-MVP of the Northwest League. Baseball America named him the Mariners' 20th best prospect and expected him to compete for the starting CF job with High A San Bernardino in 2001.
He would open the season in Wisconsin however, but he wouldn't be there for very long. Jamal earns the number 10 spot on this list despite only appearing in 51 games as a Rattler. But anyone who saw him play, remembers how he could change a game. Pitchers got very nervous anytime he got on base, as he was always a threat to steal. And he was on base a lot, hitting .353 with 40 walks for an on base percentage of .478. Even with only playing a little over a third of the season, his 35 stolen bases are the 7th most in Timber Rattler history. His impact was felt by opposing coaches as well, as Strong made the Post Season Midwest League All Star Team even with his limited time in the league. Strong also got to represent the US in the All Star Futures Game held in Seattle.
Jamal went on to steal 47 more bases after his promotion to San Bernardino, giving him a total of 82 in 132 games. He continued to hit well and steal bases as he progressed through the minors. He would get a September call up by Seattle in 2003, making his Major League Debut on September 2 as a pinch runner for Edgar Martinez. He would get a bigger taste of the Majors in 2005, spending the last two months of the season with the Mariners, playing in 20 games, mainly as a pinch runner. He became a free agent following the '05 season and has bounced around since then, spending time with four different organizations in the last year and a half. He is currently playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Yankees organization. Amazingly, the man with 290 career stolen bases in the minors has never stolen a base in the Major Leagues.
Previously on the countdown:
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.