Reds prospect Billy Hamilton reaches 100 stolen bases

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Triple-digit stolen base totals are a thing of the past in the major leagues and are becoming increasingly rare in the minor league ranks. But baseball’s long history is filled with players who have bucked trends, and achieved great success in doing so.

Enter Billy Hamilton, the Reds’ top infield prospect.

A second-round pick in 2009, Hamilton reached the 100-steal plateau Saturday in Single-A Dayton’s 4-2 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts. He is the first minor league player to reach the mark since 2001 and the first player in the history of the Reds organization to steal more than 90 bases in a single season.

Hamilton’s bat needs work. He’s hitting just .278/.339/.360 in 134 games this season and striking out far too often. But he might be the fastest player in the sport, and that tool alone could carry him to the top.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.