At this point there’s little question about whether the fastest man in baseball, Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, will break the minor-league stolen base record held by Vince Coleman.
Coleman set the record with 145 steals in 1983 and Hamilton already has 133 steals with 23 games remaining.
Hamilton’s season at Double-A ends on September 3, so once he’s done shattering the record will the Reds call him up to be a pinch-runner down the stretch? Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer asked Dusty Baker that question today and the manager hinted pretty strongly that Hamilton will be in the majors next month:
Possibly. Speed’s always an asset. Speed kills. I remember the Cardinals with Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Ozzie [Smith]. Man. That was their slogan, speed kills.
Baker also praised Hamilton’s development beyond the ridiculous steal total:
You’ve got to be able to play your position. You’ve got to be able to hit and get on base. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound. He’s come a long ways in a short period of time. You’ve got to have a total game, which he has, and he’s chipping off the rough edges around his game.
Toss in the fact that Hamilton is hitting .312 with a .409 on-base percentage in 110 games overall this season and that certainly sounds like someone Baker would like to have on his bench.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.