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Fireflies’ Tolbert is lightning fast on the basepaths

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 4:47 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - One member of the Columbia Fireflies is lighting up the basepaths. Infielder Tyler Tolbert set the franchise mark for stolen bases in a season last week. He’s swiped 30 bags so far in 45 games.

Tolbert’s gift of being able to run fast seemingly happened overnight.

“I went to bed one night and woke up the next day a little bit faster,” said Tolbert.

Talk about a great night’s sleep! Truth be told, the Birmingham, Alabama native put in work to develop those wheels during his senior year of high school.

“We had a speed coach and strength coach,” added Tolbert. “One week I was with the pack. One week I woke up and was a different speed.”

Speed alone does not lead to elite base-running.

“He’s got a rare combination of instincts and speed that makes him one of the best base stealers in all of minor league baseball,” said Fireflies Manager Brooks Conrad.

Tolbert ranks second in the Low-A Eastern Division with 30 stolen bases. Conrad admits situational baseball keeps Tolbert from leading the league. And he hates giving Tolbert the red light.

“Tough to give him the red light,” mentioned Conrad.

The art of the steal involves understanding pitchers’ tendencies and in-game situations.

“There’s a lot that goes into it,” said Tolbert. “You got to be daring. It’s a risk. You got to be bold and go.”

Conrad says they’ve clocked Tolbert at 3.1 seconds, stealing second!

“There are a lot of things that need to go right to get him out at second,” Conrad added.

So far, Tolbert’s been caught stealing just once this season. His success rate is 96.7 percent. By the end of this year, he hopes to swipe at least 80 bags!

“It’s getting harder and harder,” Tolbert said. “Pitchers are getting quicker. Catchers are more aware.”

If you’re wondering who holds the minor league baseball record for stolen bases in a season, it’s Billy Hamilton with 155. He set the mark in 2012, playing 132 games.

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