Cincinnati Reds: Why They Should Look to Shop Prospect Billy Hamilton

Illya HarrellAnalyst IIApril 30, 2012

Billy Hamilton is not a human being.

No, seriously—the guy is Thor. In fact, he probably had to turn down the role in this weekend’s super-duper feel-good flick, "The Avengers."

Dudes and dudettes, come now—let's have a look at the crunches.

Now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are in the bigs, Billy Hamilton is the most exciting offensive prospect in the minors. Better yet, he’s a member of the Bakersfield Blaze, the Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

Oh, were we talking numbers? Let's just get this over with.

In 23 games, Hamilton is socking a .398 clip. He's still striking out too much to be a legit leadoff batter, but he's taking almost as many free passes as he strikes out.

It's Class-A ball, yes. But it's only a matter of time before Hamilton joins the Double-A Blue Wahoos in Pensacola, Fla.

Hamilton topped all of professional baseball worldwide with 103 stolen bags last season.

And guess what? He has stolen 29 bases in 23 games with Bakersfield.

In the bigs, they play 162 games. If Hamilton were to keep that pace over an entire season, he'd end up with 204, beating Rickey Henderson's single-season record of 130 by 74 bags.

Will Hamilton nab more than 200 bases a season? No.

With a good manager, can he break Henderson's record? Maybe—he is that fearless on the basepath.

I'm not a big fan of the slash line, but here goes: .398/.481/.591. For those of you who read this—thanks, mom and dad—that is the batter's average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. In other words, Hamilton is knocking the snot out of the ball. He will, at 21 years old, be in Louisville—the Reds' Triple-A affiliate—by the end of the season.

So why even entertain the thought of trading such talent?

Easy—Zack Cozart.

Hamilton is blocked at short. There was talk last season of moving him to second, but with Brandon Phillips' new contract, it's safe to say that talk is as done as a "Walking Dead" zombie with a knife to the noggin.

Hamilton has tremendous value, so maybe the Reds won't need to trade him this season. And Walt Jocketty had better make sure he gets a talented vet in return—preferably an American League superstar.

The only negative concerning Hamilton is his defense. He's got a rifle-shooter arm, but unfortunately, his hands are made of Play-Doh. And on a team that prides itself on defense, Hamilton is not a good fit. Who knows, maybe he'll learn an outfield position—but that is highly unlikely.

The rook, Cozart, already looks like he has five years under his belt, and not in a cocky way; more  in the way of calmness, coolness and confidence. Cozart is fielding his position well, he is hitting and through April he is the front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

The Reds should wait until next year to trade Hamilton; I guarantee Baseball America will have him ranked as one of the top three prospects. They just love 5-tool players—even if they only have four of the five.

Billy Hamilton, as great of an offensive player as he will be, is just too laughable with the glove to stay with Cincinnati.


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