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Billy Hamilton's race into history

Reds speedster breaks Vince Coleman's all-time steals mark
September 3, 2012
All-Time Minor League Single-Season Stolen Base Leaders
1 Billy Hamilton 155 2012 Bakersfield/Pensacola Reds
2 Vince Coleman 145 1983 Macon Cardinals
3 Donell Nixon 144 1983 Bakersfield Mariners
4 James Johnston 124 1913 San Francisco N/A
5 Jeff Stone 123 1981 Spartanburg Red Sox
6 Alan Wiggins 120 1980 Lodi Padres
7 Allan Lewis 116 1966 Leesburg Royals
8 Ovid Nicholson 111 1912 Frankfort N/A
9 Maynard DeWitt 110 1946 Zanesville Dodgers
10 Otis Nixon 108 1982 Nashville/Columbus Yankees
Sept. 1: Steal No. 155

After a canceled contest, an off day and two straight hitless games, Billy Hamilton added to his stolen-base tally to open September.

The Double-A Pensacola shortstop walked in the ninth inning and took off for second on the next pitch, just beating out a close throw from Tennessee catcher Anthony Recker. Hamilton would come around to score the game-winning run on a walk-off single by teammate Bryson Smith.

With the Blue Wahoos failing to make the playoffs, It was the last stolen base of the Minor League season for the Reds' top prospect. He finished with a Minors record 155 steals -- 104 for Class A Advanced Bakersfield, 51 for Pensacola. Gameday box score

Aug. 27: Steals No. 151, 152, 153 and 154

For Billy Hamilton, round numbers and milestones are nice, but they do nothing to slow him down.

One game after stealing his 150th base of the season, he added another in the third inning of Pensacola's contest against Mississippi on Monday. The Reds' top prospect struck out to lead off the game in the first inning, but singled on a line drive in his second at-bat. He swiped second and eventually scored on Josh Fellhauser's RBI single.

He reached again in the fifth on an error by Braves third baseman Joe Leonard and stole No. 152 despite a pickoff attempt and a pitchout by Braves pitcher Gary Moran.

Hamilton's steal of second with no outs in the 10th inning gave him 49 on the season in the Texas League. One batter later, the speedster made it an even 50, swiping third base. More importantly, it set up Pensacola to take the lead as Hamilton scored on Yordanys Perez's sacrifice fly. Read more

Aug. 26: Steal No. 150

Billy Hamilton added another milestone to his record-breaking season when he recorded his 150th stolen base in the first game of Pensacola's doubleheader at Mississippi.

After striking out and grounding out in his first two plate appearances, the Reds' top prospect led off the fifth inning with a single to center field and swiped second. It was his 46th steal in 43 games with the Blue Wahoos after he produced 104 thefts in 82 games with Class A Advanced Bakersfield. Gameday box score

Aug. 25: Steal No. 149

One night after Pensacola was rained out, Billy Hamilton ensured he would not go consecutive games without a stolen base.

The switch-hitting shortstop led off the Blue Wahoos' 4-3 win at Mississippi with a single, stole second and continued to third on catcher Evan Gattis' throwing error. He scored two batters later on a double play.

The theft was Hamilton's 149th of the season, extending his Minor League record. He's gone back-to-back games without a steal only twice since he was promoted from Class A Advanced Bakersfield in early July. Gameday box score

Aug. 22: Steal No. 148

One night after breaking Vince Coleman's single-season Minor League stolen base record, Billy Hamilton was not in the starting lineup for Pensacola.

But the Reds' top prospect came on as a pinch-runner in the seventh and swiped second two innings later for his 148th steal. It was the Southern League-leading 44th stolen base for Hamilton, who was promoted after leading the California League with 104 in 82 games with Class A Advanced Bakersfield. Gameday box score »

Aug. 21: Steals Nos. 144, 145, 146, 147

Playing his 120th game of the year, Billy Hamilton raced past Vince Coleman and broke the single-season stolen base record that had stood since 1983. And then he tagged on yet another in the eighth for good merit.

Need two steals to tie the mark, the Reds' top prospect drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning, took second on a throwing error and stole third base as Kyle Lobstein's pitch in the dirt bounced away from catcher Mark Thomas.

In the third, Hamilton slapped a pitch to right field for a single before swiping second base to tie the record. The Pensacola grounds crew replaced second base as fans acknowledged Hamilton, stole third with a head-first slide moments later.

He added yet another in the eighth, was caught stealing on his lone opportunity in the doubleheader's nightcap and now stands at 147. Read more »

Aug. 18: Steal No. 143

A one-hour rain delay merely slowed Billy Hamilton, who moved within two of Vince Coleman's single-season Minor League record.

The switch-hitting shortstop led off Pensacola's 5-2 loss at Mobile with an infield single and promptly swiped second for his 143rd steal of the season. But that's where Hamilton stayed after getting thrown out by BayBears catcher Rossmel Perez in the eighth.

Hamilton, who's been caught stealing six times in his last nine games, almost certainly will eclipse Coleman's 29-year-old record in Pensacola, where the Blue Wahoos begin a five-game homestand on Sunday. Gameday box score »

Aug. 17: Steal No. 142

Following a rainout, Billy Hamilton climbed within three thefts of the single-season Minor League mark by recording his 142nd stolen base in the first game of a doubleheader.

The Reds' top prospect led off Pensacola's 4-1 loss at Mobile with a groundout but reached on an infield hit with one out in the third inning and promptly swiped second. It was his 38th stolen base in 34 games with the Double-A Wahoos after totaling 104 thefts in 82 games with Class A Advanced Bakersfield.

Hamilton grounded out and struck out in his final two plate appearances, then went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the nightcap as Pensacola salvaged a split with a 10-2 romp.

The switch-hitting shortstop ended the night needing four steals to break the record set by Vince Coleman in 1983. Gameday box score »

Aug. 15: Steals Nos. 140, 141

Billy Hamilton resumed his assault on Vince Coleman's single-season Minor League record by stealing two bases in Pensacola's 4-2 loss at Mobile.

The Blue Wahoos were off Monday and Hamilton did not steal a base in Tuesday's 9-5 triumph over the BayBears. But he wasted no time getting back on track, opening the game with a walk and promptly swiping second and third to bring his season total to 141. That's five away from breaking the mark Coleman set in 1983 with Macon of the South Atlantic League.

The Reds' top prospect was held hitless in his final three plate appearances, settling for his 40th multi-steal game of the season. He also ended a streak of five games in which he was caught stealing. Gameday box score »

Aug. 12: Steals Nos. 137, 138, 139

As he continued his march toward the Minor League single-season stolen base record, Billy Hamilton enjoyed his most productive day in the Double-A Southern League.

The Reds' top prospect went 3-for-4, tied a season high with three RBIs and scored twice in Pensacola's 7-3 victory over visiting Chattanooga. Oh, he also stole three bases to bring his season total to 139, six shy of tying Vince Coleman's 1983 record.

After grounding out in the first inning, Hamilton drew a one-out walk in the third, stole second and third and scored on a single by Bryson Smith. An inning later, he delivered a two-run single but was picked off by Lookouts starter Chris Reed and caught stealing.

Hamilton tripled home another run and scored again in the sixth, then led off the eighth with a single and swiped second to cap his 13th game this season with at least three steals. Read more »

Aug. 11: Steal No. 136

Billy Hamilton's streak of multi-steal games ended at three, but he still gained ground on Vince Coleman's single-season Minor League record.

The 21-year-old shortstop reached on a bunt single in the third inning but was caught stealing by Chattanooga Lookouts catcher Matt Wallach. In the eighth, Hamilton drew a leadoff walk against reliever Steven Rodriguez and wasted no time stealing second.

It was his 32nd theft in 30 games with Double-A Pensacola and 136th of the season. He needs 10 steals over his final 21 games to break the record Coleman established in 1983. Gameday box score »

Aug. 10: Steals Nos. 134 and 135

Billy Hamilton continued his assault on Vince Coleman's Minor League stolen base record, swiping two more bags in Pensacola's 4-2 loss to visiting Chattanooga.

For the second night in a row, the Reds' top prospect drew a first-inning walk, this time off Dodgers' No. 2 prospect Allen Webster. He immediately stole second and third, giving him 31 thefts in 29 games since he was promoted to the Double-A Southern League.

Hamilton singled off reliever Wes Roemer with one out in the sixth and, after two pickoff attempts, was caught stealing by catcher Gorman Erickson. That left him with 135th stolen bases, 10 fewer than Coleman had when he set the mark in 1983. Gameday box score »

Watch Steal No. 134 »

Aug. 9: Steals Nos. 132 and 133

It didn't take long for Billy Hamilton to tick No. 132 off the list.

He walked on four straight pitches to lead off the bottom of the first inning against Chattanooga and swiped second on Aaron Miller's first offering to Ryan Lamarre. The Blue Wahoos' leadoff hitter was picked off and caught attempting a steal of third in the same at-bat.

After showing off his speed again with a leadoff triple in the fifth, Hamilton started the seventh with a single. He took second base, despite four pickoff attempts and a pitchout by Lookouts reliever Eric Eadington, to give him two in the game and 133 on the year.

He advanced on Lamarre's Lamarre flyout and later scored on Bryson Smith's single. Gameday box score »

Aug. 8: Steals Nos. 129, 130 and 131

Returning to Pensacola from an 11-game road trip, Billy Hamilton singled twice, stole three bases and scored twice to spark the Blue Wahoos to a 5-0 blanking of Chattanooga.

The Reds' top prospect grounded out in the bottom of the first inning but went to work in earnest in the fourth. He reached on an infield single, swiped second and third and scored the game's first run on an errant throw by Lookouts catcher Gorman Erickson.

After Pensacola starting pitcher Chad Rogers led off the sixth with a triple, Hamilton singled again and promptly recorded his 27th stolen base in 27 games since he was promoted from Class A Advanced Bakersfield. He moved up on a fielder's choice and came home again on a passed ball.

It marked the 12th time this season Hamilton has stolen at least three bases and left him 15 from breaking the all-time single-season mark of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1982. Read more »

Watch Steal No. 130 »
Watch Steal No. 131 »

Aug. 7: Steal No. 128

Despite getting held hitless in five plate appearances, Billy Hamilton inched within 17 stolen bases of the all-time Minor League record in Pensacola's 6-1 win at Huntsville.

After striking out in the opening inning and grounding out to shortstop to end the third, the Reds' top prospect reached on a fielder's choice in the fifth. He promptly swiped second for his 128th stolen base of the season, climbing within 17 of the all-time mark set by Vince Coleman in 1982.

Hamilton flied to right for the final out in the sixth, then skied to center leading off the ninth. Gameday box score »

Aug. 6: Steals Nos. 126 and 127

Entering the day just 20 steals from the all-time Minor League record, Billy Hamilton added three more to his total, despite some early trouble on the basepaths in Pensacola's 5-3 loss to Huntsville.

Hamilton led off the game with a walk but was caught stealing by catcher Anderson De La Rosa. That didn't faze him, though. His next time up, in the second, the shortstop walked again and stole second but was stranded at third base. Two innings later, Huntsville starter Johnny Hellweg somehow walked Hamilton again. This time, the Reds' No. 1 prospect stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch but was stranded yet again.

The two steals moved Hamilton within 18 of the all-time record of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1982. Hamilton is 17 behind second-place Donell Nixon, who stole 144 with Bakersfield in 1983. Bakersfield was the club with which Hamilton began his run toward history, stealing 104 bases for the California League's Blaze. Gameday box score »

Aug. 2: Steal No. 119

July 31: Steal No. 117

Hamilton feature: A quick hit in Pensacola

The piled-high sandwich, with nine pieces of ham and six pieces of cheese, would seem more fitting for a husky slugger than a skinny speedster. But Billy Hamilton may be the only one able to actually burn off all the calories.

The Billy Ham and Cheese -- sold with sweet potato fries for $8 -- is flying out of the Port Side Grill at the new Pensacola ballpark, and Hamilton is speeding toward a challenge of the Minor League stolen base mark.

The shortstop's pace has slowed a bit since he was promoted from the Class A Advanced California League to the Double-A Southern League, but the mark of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1983 while with Macon of the Class A South Atlantic League remains within reach. Read more »

July 28: Steal No. 115

July 25: Steal No. 113

July 15: Timeout for Hamilton's epic inside-the-parker

July 11: Double-A debut — Steal No. 104

Billy Hamilton is so fast, he can steal even when the other team knows he's going.

The Reds' No. 1 prospect stole second and smacked an RBI triple in his Double-A debut as Pensacola fell to Chattanooga, 5-1, on Wednesday.

After striking out in his first two at-bats, Hamilton reached base in the sixth inning on a forceout. With the Minor League leader in stolen bases (104) on first, the Lookouts paid careful attention to Hamilton, having pitcher Matt McGill throw over to first three straight times. With an 0-1 count, the Lookouts called for an well-timed pitchout as Hamilton took off for second. The 21-year-old shortstop still beat the throw, giving him his first Southern League stolen base Read more »

July 2: Steals No. 99 and 100

The biggest story in the Minor Leagues just reached a new level. Or rather, a new digit.

Billy Hamilton stole two bases Monday night to give him an even 100 on the season in his 78th game of the season. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored for Class A Advanced Bakersfield, but the Blaze fell to Lake Elsinore, 3-2.

The Reds' top prospect reached the century mark in steals for the second straight season after swiping 103 for Class A Dayton one year ago, although it took him 134 games to reach triple digits. He becomes the second California League player to total 100 steals in a season since Donell Nixon had 144 -- also for Bakersfield -- in 1983. Read more »

Watch steals No. 99, 100 »

June 29: Steals No. 95 and 96

Billy Hamilton is stealing bases at one of the best clips in Minor League Baseball history, and the shortstop is well aware of that fact. But he's also proving he can use his speed in other ways.

The Reds' top prospect set a career high with three doubles Friday in Class A Advanced Bakersfield's 4-3 win over Modesto. He also added two RBIs, two runs scored and -- of course -- two stolen bases. He now has 96 swipes in 75 games for the Blaze.

With the 3-for-4 performance at the plate, Hamilton extended his hitting streak to a career-long 14 games dating back to June 12, besting his previous high of 13 games established from May 21-June 3 earlier this season. His batting average sits at .330, a full 52 points higher than his .278 mark for Class A Dayton last season. Read more »

June 21: Steals No. 81 and 82

Everyone wants to talk about Billy Hamilton's stolen-base total this season and with good reason. After swiping two more bags Thursday, the Bakersfield shortstop has 82 steals on the year, or one more than Delino DeShields Jr. (46) and teammate Theo Bowe (35) combined. And those two rank third and fourth among all Minors Leaguers respectively in the category.

But the Reds' top prospect hasn't earned the hype based on his feet alone, and he proved that Thursday night.

Hamilton tied career highs with four hits and three RBIs and added a walk, two runs scored and two thefts in Class A Advanced Bakersfield's 12-2 rout of Rancho Cucamonga. Read more »

Carolina/California All-Star Game: Hamilton swipes two more

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Billy Hamilton invited his family and friends all the way from Mississippi to see him play in the 2012 Carolina-California League All-Star Game. There was no way the Minor League leader in steals wasn't going to swipe at least one base.

"My teammates told me everyone was here to see me steal bases, so that's what I wanted to do," said Hamilton, who took home MVP honors for the California League. "That's the goal I have every game. To steal bags and get in position to score."

The Reds' top prospect not only gets into position, he almost single-handedly manufactures runs, as he did in the first inning of the Class A Advanced leagues' Midsummer Classic. The Bakersfield shortstop led off the game by beating out a bunt for an infield single, stole second and then swiped third. He jogged home on Lancaster outfielder George Springer's groundout to second base. Read more »

Watch Hamilton's All-Star steal »

June 16: Steals No. 76, 77, 78, 79, 80

At this point, basepaths in the California League are more like the Autobahn for Billy Hamilton.

The Reds' top prospect outdid even himself Saturday, tying a career high with five stolen bases while going 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored as Class A Advanced Bakersfield edged Lake Elsinore, 7-6.

The five thefts brought Hamilton's brought his season total to a Minor League-leading 80, nine more than the combined total of the California League's second- and third-best base stealers. Read more »

May 31: Steal No. 56

May 30: Steal No. 55

May 28: Steals No. 50, 51, 52

Billy Hamilton enters each season with the goal of doubling his stolen-base total from the previous year. Last year, he swiped 103.

Is 200 really a feasible goal?

"I had 100 last year, and I want to double it each year," Hamilton said, then laughed. Perhaps 203 is out of his reach, but what about 144, the California League's all-time record?

"I mean, it's possible," the shortstop said. "I think 144 is possible, but I'm not saying I'm going to go out and get 144. I knew [103] would be tough to double, but I didn't set any goals. I just want to get better, come work on my jump, and whatever happens, happens." Read more »

April 27: Steals No. 24, 25, 26

At this rate, Billy Hamilton is going to run straight to Cincinnati.

The Reds' No. 2 prospect went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three more stolen bases Friday as Class A Advanced Bakersfield beat Modesto, 7-0, for its 11th straight win.

Hamilton opened the game with a single to right field and quickly stole second. After Devin Lohman walked, Hamilton was caught trying to steal third. But he walked in the third inning, stole second again and later scored on Travis Mattair's sacrifice fly. Read more »

Hamilton feature: Off to quick start for Bakersfield

Reds prospect Billy Hamilton made headlines last year by stealing 103 bases for the Class A Dayton Dragons, becoming the first player in more than a decade to steal more than 100 bases and breaking Cincinnati's organizational record of 98 thefts in the process. Two weeks into the 2012 season, the Blaze's leadoff man aims to become a more complete player and capitalize on his elite prospect status.

Hamilton is off to a fast start, hitting .386 with 13 runs scored and 11 steals in 12 games. The switch-hitting shortstop learned how to work counts and read pitchers last year in Dayton, which helped increase his walk counts as the year went on. Hamilton is hoping to apply those lessons in the California League this season.

"This year will be [learning how] to not strike out so much," said Hamilton, who had 133 strikeouts in 135 games in 2011. "I'm making the pitchers work more than I did last year, instead of going up there swinging at the first pitch." Read more »

Hamilton feature: Q&A ahead of 2012 season

Billy Hamilton didn't get a true offseason and it doesn't sound like he wanted one.

Hamilton, the Reds' second-round draftee in 2009 and second-ranked prospect entering 2012, went straight from stealing 103 bases at Class A Dayton (he became the first Minor Leaguer in a decade to reach triple digits) to playing Winter Ball in Puerto Rico (he speaks more Spanish than most Mississippians) to working out in Arizona (he arrived way too early for Spring Training).

Still, no break needed.

"I'm going ahead and getting started before everyone else gets here," Hamilton, 21, said. "Like a little jump-start to get going." Read more »

Note: Photo credit for Billy Hamilton photos with Pensacola is Chris Nelson.