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.

Josh Donaldson is still seeking a long-term deal with the Blue Jays

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If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.

“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.

Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.