Billy Hamilton’s 100-steal season may not be a great omen

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After hitting .318/.383/.456 with 48 steals in 69 games in the Pioneer League in 2010, the Reds’ Billy Hamilton was rated as one of the game’s best shortstop prospects entering the year.  Playing in a full-season league for the first time, his bat didn’t quite live up to the hype, as he hit a modest .278/.340/.360 as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League.  However, he did steal 103 bases in 123 attempts.

Baseball America’s Jim Callis went back and tried to find all of the 100-steal seasons in minor league history.  From what he was able to judge, it had been done 21 times by 20 players.  The top two seasons were both from 1983: Vince Coleman had 145 for low Single-A Macon and Donell Nixon had 144 for high-A Bakersfield.  Coleman went on to steal 101 bases the next year before reaching the majors in 1985.

The list as a whole, though, is extremely unimpressive.  Lenny Dykstra, who stole 105 bases for Single-A Lynchburg in 1983, was the only one of the 20 players to turn into a legitimate All-Star.  Coleman and Otis Nixon were the only other long-term regulars, though Alan Wiggins might have been one too if not for drugs.

The only two players to join the list in the last 20 years were Cards prospects Esix Snead and Chris Morris and neither of them were factors in the majors.

So, the 100 steals, while a nice milestone, isn’t exactly a great predictor of future success.  With his tools, though, Hamilton may well buck those odds.  For what it’s worth, he did get quite a bit better as the year went on, hitting .318/.382/.387 in 69 games after the All-Star break.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.