Speedy Hamilton nears record in stolen bases

Pensacola Blue Wahoos shortstop Billy Hamilton has been chasing history all season, and the race could end this weekend.

Hamilton stole his 142nd base of the season Friday night in a 4-1 loss at Mobile.

The swipe left him three shy of Vince Coleman’s minor league record of 145, set in 1983 while Coleman was playing with the Macon Redbirds in the Southern Atlantic League.
The 21-year-old Hamilton has hit safely in seven of his last nine games while batting .364 to raise his season batting average to .312.

Since his July call-up from Single-A Bakersfield  to Double-A Pensacola, Hamilton is hitting .280 in 35 games while stealing 38 bases in 49 tries. He had 104 swipes in 125 attempts while hitting .323 at Bakersfield.

Pensacola, who stole 103 bases in Dayton last season, had a night game at Mobile on Saturday. Barring a four-steal effort in that contest, Hamilton will get to break the record at home as the Blue Wahoos open a five-game homestand today at 4 against the Southern League South Division-leading Montgomery Biscuits. Pensacola is in second place, three games back.

Cingrani Ks: Pensacola left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani continues to baffle Double-A hitters, although his most recent effort went unrewarded.

Wednesday night, Cingrani fanned 10 in a 4-2 loss at Mobile in which he didn’t allow a run or walk a batter in five innings. With that performance, Cingrani lowered his ERA to 1.51, which is nearly half of the next best mark in the Reds organization (Chad Rogers 2.95).

Cingrani is seventh among ERA leaders in all of minor league baseball, and Wednesday marked the third time this season he has recorded double-digit strikeouts. Between Bakersfield and Pensacola, he is 10-4 with 153 strikeouts and 40 walks in 131 1/3 innings.

He also went 2-for-2 at the plate Wednesday night to raise his season average to .273.

Soto sizzling: Infielder Neftali Soto has raised his average 24 points over the last three weeks by hitting safely in 18 of his last 21 games for Triple-A Louisville.

Soto is hitting .363 (29-for-80) over that span, upping his average from .226 to .250. His hot streak also includes 12 doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and 12 runs scored.
Unfortunately for the Bats, Soto’s streak has not translated on the scoreboard as the team had lost seven in a row and nine of its last 10 entering Saturday.