Reds prospect steals a minor league record

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A 29-year-old minor league record came crashing down last week when Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton stole his 146th base of the season.

The 21-year-old switch hitter broke the mark set by Vince Coleman in the 1983 season.

Hamilton, who plays for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos, entered Tuesday night’s doubleheader at home needing two stolen bases to match Coleman. He stole four in Game 1.

The speedy shortstop stole second base in the third inning to tie Coleman, then broke the record three pitches later by stealing third on an 0-2 count.

“I didn’t come up expecting to be a record-breaker like this,” Hamilton told the Pensacola News Journal. “When I was a little young guy, I wasn’t expecting to be in this moment as a record-breaker. … I just knew I had to get it done – today was the day. Now I can get on with my game and finish the season out strong. I’m kind of relieved.”

A report from Minor League Baseball said both second base and third base were removed and saved, along with Hamilton’s helmet, for historic purposes.

The record was broken in Hamilton’s 120th game this season. He stole 104 bases in 82 games for Bakersfield in the Advanced-A California League before being promoted to the Double-A Southern League in July.

Coleman set the bar in the South Atlantic League during the 1983 season when he stole 145 bases in 113 games for the Macon Redbirds.

WEATHER WATCH: Hamilton’s Pensacola Blue Wahoos are among the minor league baseball teams keeping an eye on the weather forecast as a potential hurricane threatens this week’s play.

Computer models released over the weekend show that Tropical Storm Isaac, expected to become a hurricane within a few days, could hit Pensacola directly. Other minor league teams bracing for unplayable conditions due to the storm include the Clearwater Threshers, Dunedin Blue Jays, Tampa Yankees and Bradenton Marauders in Florida and the Mobile Bay Bears in Alabama.

Once the storm travels inland, other minor league teams could be impacted later in the week, including the Montgomery Biscuits and Birmingham Barons in Alabama and the Rome Braves, Gwinnett Braves and Augusta GreenJackets in Georgia.

The GreenJackets will be on the road through Thursday but return to Lake Olmstead Stadium for the final series of the season Friday through Labor Day.

MOVING UP: Four former GreenJackets were named Eastern League All-Stars last week. Thomas Neal and Tommy Joseph, both no longer in the Giants organization, made the list along with Chris Heston and Mike Kickham, who play for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate in Richmond, Va.

AWARDS COMING: The South Atlantic League could release their All-Star list as early as this week. Ballots from team front offices, managers and members of the media were due to the league office by Friday.

This year’s All-Star awards include one for every fielding position, a left- and right-handed pitcher, a designated hitter, a utility infielder and utility outfielder. Season awards will also be handed out for the league’s most outstanding pitcher, most outstanding major league prospect and most valuable player.

Potential All-Stars on the GreenJackets’ roster include left fielder Shawn Payne, who entered Saturday’s play ranked fifth in the league in batting (.313) and second with 50 stolen bases.

Three Augusta pitchers rank among the top arms in the league, including league ERA leader Kyle Crick. Teammates Clayton Blackburn and Edwin Escobar also rank among the top six in the league in ERA. Blackburn leads the league in strikeouts with 137.

The awards announced by the league this week are not connected to the league’s All-Star Game, which was played in June. Most minor leagues offer a mid-season All-Star Game with two rosters representing different divisions within the league.

Near the end of the season the leagues then release one All-Star roster rewarding players for their full-season accomplishments.


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