The Class Single-A California League just wrapped up it's mid-summer classic and the Bakersfield Blaze sent five players, including super-prospect Billy Hamilton, to the California League All-Star game.
Hamilton went into the game looking to continue the dominance he has displayed on the base-paths this season and he did not disappoint.
Hamilton, who has an absurd 82 steals in only 67 games, led off the game with a bunt single and then proceeded to do his thing—stealing second, then following that up with a successful theft of third base.
The California League All-Star game would round out with Billy Hamilton's base-path antics earning him one of the two game MVP awards. The kid seems to be making an impression on all he encounters, everywhere he goes and with good reason. According to an article by Chris Gigley on MiLB.com, it was Hamilton that all of the other league All-Stars were anxious to see.
So, what is it about Billy Hamilton that has the Minor League Baseball world buzzing? Let's take a scouting look at the prospect's progress this season.
The Cincinnati Reds and Hamilton committed last season to turning the speedster into a switch-hitter—placing him on the left-handed side of the plate too, and allowing him that extra advantage of starting out closer to first base, allowing him to beat out more infield ground balls with his speed.
The switch left Hamilton with a less than stellar batting average through the first half of the 2011 season in Dayton. But, he would begin to develop better strike-zone judgement from both sides of the plate and ended the season batting .278 with 103 steals—hitting better than .300 over the second half.
Billy's judgement of the strike-zone has continued to develop throughout 2012.
He currently has 39 walks and maintains a .416 OBP, jumping his walk percentage from 8.5% in 2011 to 12.1% this season. He has also cut down on his strikeout ratio, reducing it from 21.8% last season to 16.9% this season. Seeing these two stats moving in opposite directions is a tremendous sign of Hamilton's continued development.
Let's have a little statistical fun here for a moment.
It's hard to measure the true impact of a speedster through stats. Total number of stolen bases does not quantify their impact. A players slugging percentage takes into account the total number of bases that a player gains throughout his at-bats. But, it does not, however, factor in stolen bases as a total base earned.
If Hamilton reaches base on a single and then steals second, he essentially got a double (or gained two total bases), right? If he steals third base after that, then he essentially has earned a triple, or recorded three total bases, correct?
So, if we added Hamilton's stolen bases into factoring his slugging percentage it comes out to a whopping .745! Take the season that Joey Votto is having right now and factor in his stolen bases and you get .675. When using SLUG as a measure of the amount of total bases gained by a player (with stolen bases factored in), you begin to see just how amazing the impact of Hamilton's stolen bases.
It is because of Billy Hamilton's impact that he continues to garner national recognition.
ESPN's Buster Olney has even began to take note of Hamilton's success and his "speedy rise" to super-prospect and discusses Hamilton's assault on the professional baseball stolen base record of 145, set by Vince Coleman in 1983 while in Single-A.
Billy continues to rack up the invites too. He has been invited to participate in the Futures Game at this year’s MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City. This could be Hamilton’s first chance to put his show-stopping speed on display for the whole world to see.
It's sure to be a show that you will not want to miss. I Know I’ll be watching.