Cincinnati Reds: Trading Star Prospect Billy Hamilton Is Not the Answer

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2012

Yesterday, I read an article explaining why the Reds should look to shop top prospect Billy Hamilton.

I saw the reactions to this idea and I have to say, you all are right. Trading Billy Hamilton is an absolutely horrible idea.

The Reds have never had a prospect create this much buzz, and received this much praise, without playing a major league game. The only player close is Aroldis Chapman.

Hamilton's progressing through the minors quicker than anybody could have projected and he's taken his offensive game to a level many people may never have thought possible.

While it may be the perfect opportunity to sell high, I'm of the idea that no time soon is the right time to trade Hamilton.

The author of said piece pointed out that Hamilton's defense at shortstop was laughable. However, he failed to support his claims and there are some things to point out.

First, Hamilton may struggle at times defensively but his range is undeniable. Hamilton's speed allows him to get to ground balls that other shortstops wouldn't even come close to.

Look at Hamilton's range factor per game and fielding percentage (at shortstop) in the minors compared to some of the major league's best in their major league and minor league careers. I'll also include Zack Cozart, the Reds starting shortstop.

Name Billy Hamilton Jose Reyes Troy Tulowitzki Zack Cozart Erick Aybar Derek Jeter
RF/G (4.20) 4.11 (4.37) 4.85      (4.52)

4.61  (4.54)

4.18 (4.67) 3.96 (4.21)
Fielding Percentage (.936) .973 (.958) .985      (.950) .967  (.970) .970 (.949) .976 (.934)

*Minor league numbers are in parentheses


As you can see, all of these shortstops have gotten substantially better in the field since their early years in the minors. Derek Jeter had a horrible .934 fielding percentage in the minors. Last year's gold glove winners (Tulowitzki and Aybar) weren't much better.

Hamilton is still just 21 years old and many of these players didn't hit their stride until their mid-20s.

If Hamilton can improve his ability to consistently make the routine plays, he has the potential to be one of the best shortstops in baseball. His speed and athleticism will put him above many of the game's best at the position.

Aside from the possibility of progression, there are also many rumors floating around of a possible position change for Hamilton.

Hypothetically, if Hamilton doesn't get better at shortstop, the Reds will likely shift him to the outfield.

Hamilton's reaction time and speed would translate perfectly into the outfield and should it happen, the Reds would have the best defensive outfield in baseball with Hamilton, Stubbs and Bruce holding down left, center and right field.

Furthermore, what could the Reds reasonably expect in return for Hamilton?

Hamilton is a star prospect without a doubt. However, every team in the league knows about his early defensive woes and he is a project in the making.

In order to bring anything substantial back to Cincinnati, the Reds would have to package Hamilton with another prospect or an established player.

Hamilton is tearing it up right now in A+ Bakersfield and it'll be tough to keep him down there much longer. In 23 games, Hamilton is hitting .398/.481/.591 with one HR, 10 RBI, 24 runs, six doubles, four triples and 29 steals on 35 attempts.

Giving up on Hamilton and trading him, along with another player, is an awful idea. He is, without a doubt, the fastest player in professional baseball.

Hamilton has shown too much progression, too much talent and too much upside to warrant trading him to another team when he's still so young.