Cincinnati Reds

Minor League Thefts Record-Holder Billy Hamilton Steals Second Base in MLB Debut

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Cleveland Indians during the spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark on February 24, 2013 in Goodyear, Arizona  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris StephensCorrespondent IISeptember 4, 2013

After a few years of stealing every base imaginable in the minor leagues, Billy Hamilton finally stole his first in the big leagues on Tuesday.

The steal happened in the bottom of the seventh inning with no outs as the Cincinnati Reds were deadlocked in a 0-0 game with the St. Louis Cardinals. Hamilton later scored on an RBI double by Todd Frazier to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

In the end, that run held up as it was the only one scored in the game.

Over the course of his minor-league career, Hamilton stole 395 bases, including 75 this year and 155 in 2012. His speed is one of the reasons why he's the No. 16 prospect overall in the majors, according to MLB.com.

For Cincinnati, which could lose Shin-Soo Choo to free agency in the offseason, having Hamilton at the top of the lineup could be a game-changer for many years to come.

The one issue has been Hamilton's ability (or lack thereof) to get on base this year in the minors. This year, he has an on-base percentage of .308 in the minors, while striking out 102 times. Last year, he got on base at a rate of .410, but also struck out 113 times.

Cincinnati will be able to live with Hamilton getting caught stealing (52 times last two years) as long as he's getting on base. Having him at first (or second) will give the Reds a distinct advantage.

Should the Reds make the playoffs (which should happen), he'll be key in late-game situations as he'll be able to force the issue in close games. His presence could be even bigger in the one-game Wild Card playoff and could be the difference in the Reds moving on or going home.

Regardless, it's good to see the kid get his first MLB stolen base.

Don't expect it to be his last, however. He's only got 1,405 more to catch Ricky Henderson for the career record.

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