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Fastest man in baseball on pace for 160 steals

Jun 7, 2012, 12:16 PM EDT

Billy Hamilton, Zack Cozart AP

Five weeks ago I wrote about the fastest man in baseball, Reds shortstop prospect Billy Hamilton, whose stolen base numbers at Single-A were crazy. And since then they’ve stayed every bit as crazy.

Hamilton stole four bases last night, giving him 67 steals in 56 games this season. Minor-league seasons are 140 games, rather than 162 games, yet he’s still on pace for 160 steals on the year. Seriously: One. Six. Zero.

He also stole 103 bases in 135 games last year and now has 232 steals (at an 84 percent success rate) in 303 games since the Reds made him a second-round pick in the 2009 draft.

And what makes Hamilton such an intriguing prospect is that he’s not just insanely fast, he can actually hit too. This year he’s batting .322 with 33 walks and a .410 on-base percentage in 56 games, and while 54 of his 74 hits are singles he has shown some power and … well, he turns almost every single into a double by just stealing second base anyway.

  1. j0ey15 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Bring him up so I can put him on my fantasy team

    • pjmarn6 - Jun 7, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      Duh………as he is in single A doesn’t he have to go through AA and AAA first?

      • CJ - Jun 7, 2012 at 6:51 PM

        duh……..no.

      • pjmarn6 - Jun 7, 2012 at 7:56 PM

        Before I brought a single A minor league player to the majors, I would want to see how he would do against better competition. A few months on a AA and then a AAA team would answer a lot of questions and condition him. Jumping from single A to the majors for a young man is quite a jump.

      • pjmarn6 - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:10 PM

        Remember he is running against single A catchers and hitting against single A pitching. Guaranteed that the major league catchers are going to watch him a lot closer and the major league pitchers, especially the lefties are going to hold him closer to the bag. Sure they bring high school students to the majors and……ruin them. Remember that most football and basketball players went four years to college and played ball there. Sure don’t season the kid and jerk him up to the majors and ruin his confidence.

  2. bengalsucker - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    No reason to bring him up. We have the infield covered. We need an outfield lefty since Stubbs is sort of hurt and we need a lefty for the bench. I believe he’s a righty.

    • jarathen - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      Yes, who needs a blindingly fast, patient hitter in their lineup?

      • 18thstreet - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Unless they get an equally fast player to get on base in front of him, he’ll just clog up the bases.

      • bobulated - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        I hate when guys get on base and clog them up, that’s why Jeff Francouer is my favorite player.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:52 PM

        The 32 thumbs down really shows that they need to invent a sarcasm font.

      • bengalsucker - Jun 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        Yeah so the other team can bring in a right handed pitcher for our whole lineup. lol All we have are righties. The Reds need lefties. They aren’t going to bring up a righty. I mean come on, they had Costanzo up recently. The guy was TERRIBLE but he was a lefty. Do you think they’re going to sway from that? He hasn’t even been in the rumor mill as soon to be brought to the show. It’s not going to happen.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    That’s incredible, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe he could outrun Tony Campana.

    • istillbelieveinblue - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      I love watching Campy run. How sad is it that the only thing that makes that team watchable is watching a AAAA player run the bases or rundown a line drive in the gap?? :(

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        Did you see the play a few weeks ago where he got to third safely by JUMPING OVER the third baseman? That was sick.

      • istillbelieveinblue - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        The real question is, WhenMattStairsIsKing, could he get to third before Matt Stairs could get to first. :P

      • Francisco (FC) - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:01 PM

        Did you see the play a few weeks ago where he got to third safely by JUMPING OVER the third baseman? That was sick.

        Does he also hang a pair of batting gloves on his wall for each stolen base too?

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      That’s incredible, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe he could outrun Tony Campana.

      Signed,
      An Incredibly Biased St. Louis Cardinals Fan

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        EDIT FUNCTION:
        That’s incredible, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe he could outrun VINCE COLEMAN.

        Signed,
        An Incredibly Biased St. Louis Cardinals Fan

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        You were right the first time.

  4. istillbelieveinblue - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Tony Campana claims to be the fastest guy in MLB (stolen base in 14% of plate appearances this year). :) Now, if he could just hit a little…

    Rickey Henderson’s best year, statistically (130SB) was 1982, when he stole a base on almost 20% of his plate appearances, and almost 25% of his AB’s. Oh how the game has changed…

  5. theawesomersfranchise - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000StVAwNS3mZs/s/600/600/Billy-Hamilton-20110718-269.jpg

    The real Billy Hamilton of the Reds

  6. metalhead65 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    does anyone know where he is hitting in the order? the reds despartly need a leadoff guy since dusty refuses to put phillips there,even though he proved last season he is the only guy they have that can do a decent job there. can only imagine how many RBI’s Votto would have if he had somebody hitting in front of him who actually got on base instead of the .230 hitters dusty has there now. yes I know I am bagging on baker but again if you are a Reds fan it is maddening he puts the same lineup except for left field every night and expects different results. please name another manager who will not bat his 2 best hitters near each other because they are both left handed? dusty will not bat Votto and Bruce together for that reason and the reds do not score more runs because of it.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      SLAYER

      • metalhead65 - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        SUCKS!

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        Megadeth!

    • hasbeen5 - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      At least he doesn’t bat the pitcher 8th.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Sure hasbeen5.
        But he doesn’t have Pujols in the lineup to bat in the 1st inning…and then essentially bat cleanup once the lineup turns over.

        Signed,
        Tony LaRussa

      • hasbeen5 - Jun 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM

        I was referring to Fredi Gonzalez actually.

        Personally I don’t like it. I’d want the worst hitters on my team getting the fewest ABs

    • roadwearyaaron - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      I checked the box scores for their last two games and he is, indeed, batting leadoff. Let’s hope he keeps hitting and getting on base so he makes it to the show and Votto can bring somebody home. I’m fairly certain he could score on a Votto walk.

  7. skeleteeth - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Reminds me of Baseball Stars.

  8. lumpyf - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Funny. Same name as the fastest man in 19th century baseball. Is this kid nicknamed “Sliding Billy” too? He should be.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Both are William R. Hamilton as well

  9. Jeremiah Graves - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Am I wrong on this or is his defense really the biggest knock against the kid right now?! I thought I read somewhere that he projects out better as a potential CF than as a SS long-term. Maybe I’m misremembering, but if it’s not his glove, I see very little reason why he hasn’t been bumped up the food chain a bit with the way he’s hitting/running this year. Seems like a big-time asset for the future of the club.

  10. Jeremy Fox - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    How is his body holding up? Stealing that many bases means you take a pounding. Not that it makes it impossible to be durable, of course–Rickey Henderson was pretty durable.

  11. hermanbates - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Hamilton is batting leadoff. He hasn’t been moved yet because didi gregorious is at short in AA. Walt said all star break for when he would make the move to bring both up one level. His d is a work in progress and I’m pretty sure his future is in the outfield, though maybe second if the reds decide to move bp.

  12. ajcardsfan - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    He’s a real life Willy Mays Hayes, he hits like Mays, and runs like Hayes!

  13. stlouis1baseball - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Unless they get an equally fast player to get on base in front of him, he’ll just clog up the bases.

    Dusty Baker

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