13 Jun

license to steal

A new rule in High-A ball this season has given some players what must feel like a license to steal. The pitcher must step off the rubber before making a pickoff move. No one has taken better advantage of the rule than Delvin Zinn, the former Itawamba Community College star now with the Chicago Cubs’ South Bend affiliate. Zinn pilfered his 22nd bag on Saturday; that leads all three High-A leagues. He hasn’t been thrown out once. Zinn’s career may have stalled a bit; he was drafted in 2016 and hasn’t played above A-ball. But the 5-foot-10, 170-pound shortstop does have some speed. He stole 30 bases in A-ball two years ago under the old rules. As great as his pace is this season, Zinn isn’t going to match what Billy Hamilton did at the high Class A level in 2012. The Taylorsville Tornado stole 104 bases in the California League before adding 51 more in Double-A to set an all-time pro record with 155 bags. … In Low-A ball, where the pitcher is limited to two pickoff moves per plate appearance, steals are also up this season, though none of the Mississippians at that level are exactly running wild. Former Hattiesburg High standout Joe Gray Jr., having a really good year, has eight steals for Carolina (Milwaukee), and Meridian CC product Sam McWilliams has eight for Rancho Cucamonga (Los Angeles Dodgers). Willie Joe Garry Jr., from Pascagoula, has seven bags for Fort Myers (Minnesota) while hitting .165.