Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jim Bowden: Call up Billy Hamilton

Simply put, the Reds need a spark right now to inject some life in an otherwise lifeless-looking team. After watching their last handful of games, four of which have resulted in tough defeats, it has become clearly evident that the Reds are in desperate need of an off day or at least some time to recharge their batteries for the final month of the season. 

In fairness, Cincinnati was dealt no favor in regards to scheduling. The Reds wrap up a stretch of 20 games in 20 days when they partake in the series finale with the Cardinals on Wednesday evening. They receive a much-needed off day on Thursday before heading to Colorado for a three-game slate against the Rockies at Coors Field.

Aside from Thursday's off day, the weary Reds may soon receive even more help, as the rosters around the league are set to expand to 40 players on Sunday. This means a slew of younger players are on their way to help revitalize a Reds club that is clearly tired, beaten, and bruised.

Perhaps the most intriguing potential call-up is none other than outfielder Billy Hamilton, whose speed is second to none in the organization, and who many believe can really be an asset to Dusty Baker as a pinch-runner off the bench. Count former Reds general manager and current ESPN analyst Jim Bowden as one who thinks Hamilton can help the team, as well.

Billy Hamilton | OF | Cincinnati Reds

The 22-year-old has struggled all season at Triple-A Louisville, hitting just .259, but he has scored 73 runs and stole 73 bases while being caught just 14 times. His bat clearly isn’t major league-ready, but with a heated three-team race in the NL Central, Hamilton’s blinding speed could make him a game-changer as a pinch runner.

Shin-Soo Choo will be a free agent at season’s end, so there is an outside chance the Reds might have to rush Hamilton to the major leagues sometime next year. Therefore, his speed off the bench might prove valuable down the stretch, and the experience he would earn in the middle of a pennant race would only help his development.

Bowden is absolutely correct on several of his points. Hamilton doesn't appear ready to hit on a regular basis at the major league level yet, but his speed on the base paths is something the Reds can definitely use in late-inning situations. For a team who lacks the ability to steal bases, and for a team who has committed multiple unfathomable mistakes on the base paths this year, Hamilton could benefit the Reds almost as much as veterans could benefit from watching him. 

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