If you aren’t excited about Billy Hamilton, you aren’t paying attention.

(For the record, I admit that I’ve been very slow in jumping on the Billy Hamilton bandwagon. Sure, I knew he was a great athlete, but I have been skeptical about whether that athleticism would translate to baseball. I’m a believer now. He can help the Cincinnati Reds…very soon.)

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

Join the conversation! 21 Comments

  1. Have the Reds said whether or nor Hamilton is going to be in spring training camp?

  2. I’m sure they will, but only to give their fans a glimpse at the future. There’s no way they’re rushing him to the majors, not unless…

    There’s just no way they’re rushing him to the majors.

  3. I don’t remember who, but someone said during one of the Red Stove League broadcasts that they would be putting him on the spring training roster and giving him a good, long look.

  4. Is the AFL over? How did Billy do? How did the transition to CF go?

  5. Who scouted him, recommended the draft? This organization is solid, bottom to top, it appears. Great time to be a Reds fan.

  6. @RiverCity Redleg: There is a nice right up on how the various Reds prospects performed in the AFL over at Red Reporter. Hamilton didn’t hit great, but it’s a small sample size against better pitching than he’s used to: .234/.306/.328 in 64 AB with 10 SB.

  7. @RiverCity Redleg: I don’t know anything about his defense in CF, but would be interested to hear.

  8. @BenL: Thanks.

  9. Tom Verducci had a blurb about players in the AFL just yesterday at si.com:
    1. Billy Hamilton, 22, Reds, CF
    MLB comp: Vince Coleman
    After getting a whopping 681 plate appearances this year and attempting 204 stolen bases (successful on 165 of them), the 160-pound Hamilton had his long season end when he crashed into the centerfield fence trying to make a catch in the Arizona Fall League championship game Saturday. Hamilton stayed on the ground for nearly five minutes before walking off with assistance and with what was described as lower back stiffness.
    Hamilton is an impact offensive player because of his speed and fearlessness, though the pounding his body takes — he is constantly diving into bases on steal attempts, bunts and pickoffs — may be a concern. Hamilton, a former shortstop, took well to the transition to centerfield, and he is much more than a slap hitter. He does have gap power from both sides of the plate.
    Hamilton is a game-changer. He has scored from second base on a groundball back to the mound as well as an infield pop-up, and he can bunt for a hit just about any time he wants, including with two strikes. Eventually he will need to refine his baserunning game when confronted with the major league tactics of defending it. For now, Hamilton is a guy who likes to take walking leads and time pitchers. Major league teams will counter that preference by making sure he has to take off from a stopped position, which pitchers can enforce with multiple throw-overs and holding the ball.

    It’s easy to imagine Hamilton has a big-league impact player. He’s more than just a burner, and he plays with such an easygoing joy that he is especially fun to watch.

  10. Jonathon Mayo echoed Verducci’s assessment of the transition, saying he took to CF well. I don’t mind the Reds starting him in AAA, but that said, I feel quite certain he’s better than Stubbs RIGHT NOW.

    Didi had a nice month–decent average and more walks than strikeouts. Josh Ravin had a bad ERA, but had a great K/BB ratio. Kid throws 100. Along with Curtis Partch, this duo could be next year’s JJ Hoover.

    Cub’s DFA’d Brian LaHair yesterday. He mashes RH pitching, clueless vs. lefties. I’d take a flyer as a strict platoon/bench guy. Wouldn’t cost a thing.

  11. @Sultan of Swaff: LaHair is looking to play in Japan.

  12. Walt mentioned the kids who got called up from double-A this year(Machado, Harper) and said that it seems to be an easier transition than it used to. Walt said he wouldn’t rule anything out. If he proves he can work counts and maybe does decent for a month or two in triple-A, he could very well be up with the Reds by June. Will he break camp with them? Doubtful. But hey, just about anything is possible, especially with Drew Stubbs around.

  13. Still feel we should trade Billy for a cost controlled LF. Would be curious what would be needed to grab Alex Gordon.

  14. I see BHam and Meso in similar situations. Both are talented prospects with high upside, but both are still developing. Both need to play and improve, offensively and defensively, to produce the the major league level. They can’t do that sitting on the bench in the major league dugout. I think the Reds did Meso a real diservice last year in the way he was handled. I’m afraid the same may occur if BHam is promoted to the major league roster this spring. I wouldn’t even mind if BHam started the season in AA, but if he produces offensively like he did last season, he needs a much quicker promotion to AAA (like after no more than a month or Memorial Day at the latest). If he produces at AAA and the Reds still need a valid leadoff hitter, get in in the bigs by the all star break. No matter how he is handled, BHam must play every day.

  15. I really want Billy to stay in AAA this year. Although Uncle Walt says that the AA to MLB transition is easier, I think Billy’s AFL hitting performance kind of disproves that. He wasn’t terrible, but he needs more time. Although, I think his move to CF is mentioned too often. I’d say he only needs a couple more months at best to play it at an above-average level. But, I don’t think he’ll be defensively as good as Drew Stubbs ever–he seems to be once-in-a-lifetime in the outfield.

  16. The Reds signed utility player Emmanuel Burriss to a minor league deal, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports (on Twitter). In 60 games with the Giants this past season, Burriss appeared at second base, third base, shortstop and right field. The 27-year-old posted a .213/.270/.221 batting line in 150 plate appearances. Not much there in this signing other than an option for an IF utility role other than Henry Rodriguez.

  17. Hamilton put in a grind of a season, the same number of games he played in 2011, plus the AFL month. He is 22 years old. If he shows he can handle center in the spring, and at the same time keeps getting on base, then by all means put him in the starting lineup Opening Day. Start him off low in the order, 8th, and “graduate” him to the top of the order if he can handle it.

    Stubbs will make a great addition to the bench and provide some depth. He hasn’t shown in three full years that he can tell the difference between a fastball and a curve coming out of the pitcher’s hand. Give Billy a shot at it.

  18. If he comes out of ST roaring, I believe the Reds may be forced to bring him up. I believe the Reds are looking at him starting at AAA, though.

    • If he comes out of ST roaring, I believe the Reds may be forced to bring him up.I believe the Reds are looking at him starting at AAA, though.

      But, once Hamilton does get up here, Stubbs will get most of the work. After all, “Hamilton hasn’t been through a playoff race” as Baker puts it.

      Like the old saying, the only person who could hold Jordan under 30 ppg was Dean Smith, his college coach. I could see developing the only person who can slow Hamilton down is Baker.

  19. How about this….trade Stubbs, Ondrusek or Arrendondo, Leake, and a minor leaguer (if you have to) to Miami for Giancarlo Stanton. If Hamilton is ready, he plays center. If not, stick either heisey or phipps in center until he is ready. Chapman then goes to the rotation.

  20. Billy Hamilton is likely to spend much of the spring with the Reds before being reassigned. I think there’s still a question of whether he’ll go to AA or AAA. He only played 50 games in AA last year so I don’ think a promotion to AAA by opening day is a guarantee.

    Bryce Harper did burst onto the scene after being promoted from AA. On the other hand Billy Hamilton isn’t Bryce Harper. The scouts have all indicated that he’s stealing bases with speed and he has to work on technique to be a successful base stealer in the majors, against guys with pickoff moves like Cueto and Chapman.

    Now some fans suggest that Billy Hamilton should be rushed because even if he isn’t ready he’d be better than Drew Stubbs, which is similar to the argument that resulted in Homer Bailey being rushed (the Reds needed another starting pitcher, even if he can’t pitch yet at least he’s better than the other guy). I think the Reds are now much more careful about rushing prospects, especially when it comes to filling a void (CF) that doesn’t exist with Stubbs and Heisey around.

    Dusty would bench Billy Hamilton as a rookie because he hasn’t been through a playoff race? Cozart kept playing in the 2012 playoff race as a rookie. Frazier did until Rolen started out-hitting him to end the season. I think everyone agrees that Mesoraco’s hitting was the primary reason why he lost playing time. I don’t see any precedent suggesting that Hamilton would get benched if he performs well.

    What can slow down Billy Hamilton? Dusty Baker? I don’t think so. Getting rushed to the majors on the assumption that ready or not he’s better than Drew Stubbs, that’s what can slow him down. If Hamilton struggles early, perhaps with an OBP below Stubbs’ .320, fans will start turning on him fast. Billy Hamilton got caught stealing 37 times in the minors in 2012 and unless he improves his technique his success rate for base stealing will go down, not up, as he faces MLB pitchers and catchers who are more competent at holding baserunners.

    The Reds are a contender in the NL Central, their top prospect should be promoted when he’s ready to burst onto the scene and contribute (like Todd Frazier), not to fill a lineup spot while he develops under on-site and under constant scrutiny (like Homer Bailey) – can he start to put it all together?

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.


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