Thursday, January 23, 2014

Billy Hamilton is the 8th-best outfield prospect, according to MLB.com

He's fast
MLB.com has been working on their 2014 prospect watch, and recently has been churning out list after list of the top ten prospects at each position. The Reds have not been represented very well among these lists, landing only one player, Robert Stephenson, among them as the 7th-best right-handed pitcher. MLB.com released their last position ranking on Wednesday, and Cincinnati managed to get one more player among the ranks.

Speed demon Billy Hamilton was listed as the 8th-best outfield prospect in the minor leagues. Although the did appear in 13 games for the Reds last season, he still maintained his classification as a prospect. In news that is entirely obvious, they list the switch-hitting, 23-year old's MLB ETA as 2014. We knew that was true when the Reds announced that they are comfortable going into the 2014 season with Hamilton as the Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Here is the scouting report MLB.com gives for Hamilton:

Scouting Grades*: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 80 | Arm: 50 | Field: 65 | Overall: 60

Hamilton set the Minor League record for stolen bases in 2012 and still has a firm grip of the "Fastest Player in Baseball" moniker. He showed off that speed during a September callup in 2013, succeeding in 13-of-14 stolen-base attempts.

Hamilton's speed is a legitimate weapon and his swing is built to take advantage of it. He will still have to prove he can get on base enough to profile as a leadoff man.

Hamilton successfully moved from shortstop to center field in 2013. He is still learning the finer points of playing the outfield, but his speed masks most of those miscues. He has a solid arm and projects to be an above-average defender when he is a little more experienced.


* Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.

It should come as no surprise that Hamilton ranks among the best outfield prospects, after switching from shortstop last year. The full-season debut of Hamilton is among the most anticipated events of 2014 after he gave Reds fans a preview of what he could do by stealing 13 bases in 14 attempts during his September call-up in 2013. He showed in a short amount of time that his speed can be game changing, as he figured prominently in several Reds wins in September.

The question for Hamilton is whether or not he can get on base enough for his speed to make a difference for a full season. In 13 games in 2013, he hit .368 (7-for-19) while getting on base at a .429 clip. He also scored nine runs, with two walks, two doubles, and one RBI. If he was to reproduce results such as that, the Reds will jump out of their socks with joy. It's highly unlikely and quite honestly unfair to expect such a season from Hamilton, but as long as he does better than the 2012 Reds leadoff hitters, he'll be in good shape. That season, hitters in the the first spot in the order managed an ugly .208/.254/.327 slash line.

MLB.com will release their list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball sometime today.

Run Billy Run.




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