MLB Rumors has learned that the Cincinnati Reds are considering a call-up of base stealing extraordinaire, Billy Hamilton.
Hamilton has spent the last two years fine-tuning the art of stealing bases. Last season in Dayton (Low-A), he racked up 103 stolen bases. This year Hamilton started out in Bakersfield (High A) and then moved to Pensacola (AA) and has amassed an amazing 133 stolen bases. He is on pace to break the minor league record for stolen bases, held by Vince Coleman, of 145.
There are no MLB Rumors about Hamilton possessing blazingly fast speed. The 6′ 1″, 160 lbs shortstop is a running machine. I have seen him play and I have never (Coleman, Rickey Henderson, you name him) seen anyone run like he does. No matter the situation when Hamilton is at the plate, the infield at all positions is drawn in. Normal routine groundouts are not because of his speed. Remember he was clocked this summer going from home to home in an inside-the-park homerun in 13.8 seconds. That is with a homerun trot the last half from third to home. He is, in a word, amazing.
When asked about the possible call up of Hamilton later in the season, Reds Manager, Dusty Baker responded, in a word, “Possibly.”
Ken Griffey, Sr., who coached Hamilton in Bakersfield, had this to say (SI.com) about Hamilton when he, Griffey, became a believer in Billy Hamilton. Hamilton had singled, stole first and then stole second. ”The hitter was kind of jammed and he hit a pop fly to second,” says Griffey. “I look over at third and I see Billy going back to the base, looking like he’s getting ready to push off, and I’m thinking, Now what the hell is he doing? The second baseman had his back to the plate, he was on the edge of the outfield grass behind second base, and the moment he touched the ball, Billy took off. And he was gone. This is a pop fly to second base, and Billy tagged up and scored. Standing up.”
Griffey laughs. “Thought I’d seen it all — but I’d never seen that,” he says. “I’ve seen all the great ones who could change the game with their speed. But Billy — it’s true, he’s a little bit different.”
That’s Ken Griffey, Sr., people!
The record for stolen bases in the minor leagues will certainly fall this summer. Minor league records are remembered, however, by nobody (except the one who holds the record). If MLB Rumors has it correct and the Reds are seriously considering calling up Hamilton, look for him to have the same impact at the MLB level.