Fittingly, Billy Hamilton speedily eclipsed Vince Coleman tonight.
In the first game of a doubleheader against Montgomery, the Reds shortstop prospect stole four bases to surpass Coleman's single-season minor league record. Hamilton now has 147 steals, two more than Coleman. Hamilton's 147 steals are a record for any professional league. Rickey Henderson holds the Major League record with 130 steals.
Hamilton led off the bottom of the first by walking. He took off for second base as Biscuits pitcher Kyle Lobstein tried to pick him off. Lobstein's throw was wide of the mark, allowing Hamilton to reach second on the error. He then stole third for his 144th steal. Hamilton's next at-bat came with two outs in the third. He singled to right field, then quickly stole second and third before Ryan LaMarre struck out. When Hamilton swiped the record-breaking base, he quickly called time before breaking out in a large grin. Grounds crew quickly exchanged the batting helmet he was wearing and the base he stole to set them aside.
Hamilton added another steal in the eighth inning. With 43 steals since his promotion to Double-A Pensacola, he now leads all of Double-A in steals. With 104 steals for high Class A Pensacola before his promotion, he also leads all Class A players. In the second game of the doubleheader, Hamilton was held without a steal.
As Reds prospect Billy Hamilton races toward the minor league record for stolen bases in a season—he's gone 71-for-85 in 60 games for high Class A Bakersfield—it's a fitting time to acknowledge those players who hold the single-season records for thefts in each of the 16 extant minor leagues.
We chose to draw the cut-off line at 1962 because that's when the minor leagues as we know it took shape. That's the point at which baseball instituted the Player Development Plan with the minor leagues, guaranteeing the survival of 100 teams and making those clubs official cogs to the big league machine.
|LEAGUE RECORDS FOR STOLEN BASES IN A SEASON (1962-PRESENT)|
|American Assoc||AAA||101||Vince Coleman||Louisville||1984||22||137||73.7%|
|Pacific Coast||AAA||84||Kim Allen||Spokane||1980||27||107||78.5%|
|Eastern||AA||96||Larry Lintz||Quebec City||1972||22||107||89.7%|
|Florida State||HiA||116||Allan Lewis||Leesburg||1966||24||—||—|
|South Atlantic||LoA||145||Vince Coleman||Macon||1983||21||176||82.4%|
|New York-Penn||SS||66||Geoff Dogget||Geneva||1982||20||79||83.5%|
|Pioneer||R||60||Tom Goodwin||Great Falls||1989||20||68||88.2%|
|Gulf Coast||R||50||Alexis Marte||GCL Blue Jays||1981||18||54||92.6%|
Minor league baseball has changed dramatically through the years, so it's important to acknowledge that fact when considering the single-season home run champions for the 16 extant minor leagues.
Baseball as we know it today began to take shape in the 1960s. The Angels, Astros, Mets and Senators/Rangers franchises began play in the early part of the decade, and by the the time the ’70s dawned the game had grown half again as large, expanding from 16 to 24 teams.
Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, baseball pioneers, retired in the late ’50s. Against that backdrop, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente began to establish themselves as the greatest position players of the ’60s, and Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal as the best pitchers.
Baseball instituted the amateur draft in 1965, forever changing the ways in which organizations scout and evaluate domestic talent. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the terrific book "Dollar Sign On The Muscle."
As important as expansion, integration and the draft were to shaping the future of the game, baseball also codified its minor league structure in the early ’60s. Minor league teams played largely on their own in the first half of the 20th century, and teams and leagues boomed in post-World War II prosperity. The peak in 1948 saw 59 minor leagues operating in 438 cities, and the minors set overall attendance records that endured until the early 2000s.
The boom quickly crashed, however, and by 1959 there were just 21 minor leagues. Some worried that the minors would fail altogether, so major league teams started subsidizing their minor league brethren. The Player Development Plan went into effect in May 1962, assuring the survival of 100 minor league teams and creating the farm system as we know it today.
With major league organizations footing the bill for minor league salaries, player turnover intensified in the search for prospects with big league potential. Development, and not winning, took precedence in the minors. The flawed slugging first baseman/corner outfielder whose power doesn't play in the high minors is no longer guaranteed steady employment.
Let's first acknowledge the home run champs of the modern, post-1962 era, because we know what the classifications signify.
|LEAGUE RECORDS FOR HOME RUNS IN A SEASON (1962-PRESENT)|
|Amer. Assoc.||AAA||46||Ken Phelps
|Pacific Coast||AAA||50||Ron Kittle*||Edmonton||1982||24||472||9.4|
|Texas||AA||41||Arlo Engel||El Paso||1963||21||485||11.8|
|Carolina||HiA||49||Tony Solaita||High Pt-Thomasville||1968||21||467||9.5|
|Florida State||HiA||33||Jim Fuller||Miami||1971||20||488||14.8|
|Midwest||LoA||42||Jeff Jones||Cedar Rapids||1982||24||432||10.3|
|South Atlantic||LoA||40||Russell Branyan||Columbus||1996||20||482||12.1|
|Northwest||SS||25||Willie Darkis||Central Oregon||1980||20||252||10.1|
|Pioneer||R||23||Greg Morrison||Medicine Hat||1997||21||241||10.5|
|Gulf Coast||R||14||Eric Arce||Blue Jays||2011||19||153||10.9|
* Sacramento's Bill McNulty hit 55 home runs in 1974, but according to the Pacific Coast League media guide: "Left field at Hughes Stadium, Sacramento, was less than the 250 feet prescribed in Official Baseball Rule 1.04," and the league places an asterisk next to his record. [...] Continue Reading »
Jamie McOwen breezed past the California League record for consecutive-game hitting streaks a week and a half ago, going 2-for-6 against Lake Elsinore to push his running tally to 36 games. In the process, he relegated Modesto's Brent Gates (1992) and Bakersfield's Chris Davis (2007) to the dustbin of history.
McOwen, a 23-year-old outfielder for the Mariners' high Class A High Desert affiliate, has kept his streak intact since then, going 2-for-4 on July 8 to up the ante to 45 straight games. That total ranks second among post-World War II hitting streaks, trailing only Roman Mejia's 55-game run in the 1954 Big State League. (See our short feature on McOwen for more about him and his pursuit of the record.)
As we did previously with regard Greg Halman's assault on the Southern League strikeout record, we present here the top hitting streaks for existing full-season minor leagues. [...] Continue Reading »
Mariners Double-A center fielder Greg Halman combines prodigious raw power with an undisciplined batting approach that has resulted in both frequent home runs and strikeouts as he has climbed the ladder. Last season, he slugged 29 homers and whiffed 142 times in 128 games. The year before, it was 20 and 162 in just 114 games.
Through 58 games with West Tenn this season, Halman has balanced 14 home runs with 108 strikeouts, giving him a homer-to-whiff ratio that would make Rob Deer proud. The 21-year-old native of the Netherlands—Halman, not Deer—leads the minors with those 108 whiffs, despite recently missing nearly two weeks with a heel injury that sent him to the disabled list.
At the pace he's going, Halman will strike out 230 times over the course of 500 at-bats. This revelation led us to wonder: What, exactly, is the record for strikeouts by a Southern League batter? And how close would 230 whiffs be to the minor league record? [...] Continue Reading »
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog