In 135 games with the Dayton Dragons last year, Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton stole 103 bases. He stole his 100th base of the season on September 3.
This year he’s blowing away that pace — not to mention every other stolen-base pace ever in professional baseball — with the Bakersfield Blaze, High-A affiliate of the Reds. Last night he stole his 100th base of the season — in only his 78th game. He’s on pace to steal 170 bases — 25 more than Vince Coleman’s minor-league record of 145 and 40 more than Rickey Henderson’s major-league record of 130.
What I love about Hamilton’s base-stealing ability and audacity is it’s almost an anachronism, something not seen much in baseball since the advent of the steroids era. But it’s possible Hamilton is heralding in a new era of base-stealing. If so, he may already have a Tim Raines to his Rickey Henderson: Delino DeShields, Jr., has 57 stolen bases for the Lexington Legends, Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros, this season.
DeShields comes from base-stealing stock. His father, Delino DeShields, Sr., stole 463 bases during his 13-year career in the major leagues. The elder DeShields played in the Midwest League in 1988, when he stole 59 bases in 129 games with the Rockford Expos. He’s been the skipper of the Dayton Dragons since last year, when he managed Hamilton and the rest of his team to a second-half division title.
Los Angeles Dodgers SS Dee Gordon currently leads the major leagues with 28 stolen bases. He stole 73 bases in 131 games with the Great Lakes Loons in 2009.