Keith Law of ESPN.com released his updated Top 50 Prospects list on Thursday and tabbed the fleet-footed Hamilton as the 27th best prospect overall. Here's Law's write-up on the 22-year old:
27. Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds (age 21)
Current level: Double-A (Pensacola)
Preseason ranking: 64
You saw the game-changing speed if you watched the Futures Game on Sunday, and you also saw why he might end up moving to second or, more likely, to center field. He looked stronger to me this year than he did last year, which will be key if he is going to keep his OBP up. The speed is great, but I'm trying not to overweigh it in these rankings. Michael Bourn stole 61 bases last year, yet added a bit more than seven runs of value on the bases, according to FanGraphs, so a reasonable expectation for Hamilton might be 9-10 runs a year, or about a win of value. He might be the most valuable fantasy prospect in the minors and is a very good prospect in the field, but there is a gap between those two values.
Hamilton was the only member of the Reds organization to appear on the list and ranked as the 5th-rated shortstop overall. Coincidentally, the switch-hitter also received the no. 27 ranking in Baseball America's list of Midseason Top 50 Prospects earlier this month.
The Baltimore Orioles placed two players in Law's top three (#2 RHP Dylan Bundy & #3 SS Manny Machado) while the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates boasted two prospects in the top 10 (#7 RHP Gerrit Cole & #10 RHP Jameson Taillon).