Monday, January 7, 2013

Highlighting the top Reds prospects for 2013: Billy Hamilton

by: Jon Davis
Staff Writer

With all of the talk about the 2013 Reds major league roster, I thought I would take some time to talk about the minor leagues and some of the prospects to watch in the coming years. With the help of the Redlegs Review staff, I have put together this list of the top Reds prospects heading into this coming year. When talking about prospects you have got to keep in mind some are guys that are very early in their journey to the majors and therefore are names you may not hear tied to the big league club for a few years. In an effort to give us our Reds fix and get us closer to Opening Day, we will do one a day starting today with No. 1.

#1 Billy Hamilton CF
@b_ham_3 on Twitter

"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
-Yogi Berra

When talking about Reds prospects you have to start with Billy Hamilton -- the switch hitting 6-foot-1, 160-pound speed demon, who also shares his name with another base stealer from the late 1800's. Everyone should be aware he recently set the record for most stolen bases in a season with 155. Now, with Hamilton his speed has never been in question, rather it has always been two questions: 1) Could he get on base enough to take advantage of his speed? And 2) Could his defense improve enough to stay at short.

As far as the first goes, in 2011 playing at Low-A Dayton he hit .278 with an OBP of .340 while striking out 133 times and walking only 52 times in 610 plate appearances. That is not bad production, but leaves a lot to be desired. In 2012 he shows great strides, dropping 20 K's while walking 34 more times and making better contact in the same number of PA, led to a robust .311 BA and .410 OBP. All of this while moving up the farm system ladder splitting time between High-A Bakersfield & Double-A Pensacola.

As for the other issue? It has been made mute by his move to center field. This is a move that in connection with the trade of Shin-Soo Choo lines up perfectly for Hamilton to be the starting CF & leadoff hitter in 2014, and allows the Reds to continue to be patient with Hamilton's development.

So, Reds fans look for Hamilton to spend the entire year wearing a Bats uniform with the exception of a possible cup of coffee coming in September just to give all of us a little taste of what to expect in 2014.

You can find and follow Jon on Twitter via @I_Bleed_RedsRed.

Be sure to check back in the coming days as Jon continues to unveil the team's top prospects heading into the 2013 campaign.

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