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Headed into the 2012 season, Hamilton was regarded as the fastest player in the game. But with baseball skills that lagged well behind his overall athleticism, there were relevant concerns regarding his potential development.
For a player with one of the most exciting tools in the minor leagues (his speed, obviously) and the potential to be a dynamic, top-of-the-order hitter, the switch-hitter’s 133-52 strikeout-to-walk rate in 2011 was concerning.
This season, however, Hamilton’s plate discipline was as improved as any young hitter in the game. Oh yeah, he also broke the modern stolen-base record with 155 stolen bases in 132 games.
The 22-year-old began the season at High-A Bakersfield, where he posted a line of .323/.413/.439 with 50 walks and 104 stolen bases in 82 games. Following a great performance at the XM Futures Game, he was promoted to Double-A, where he further showcased improved on-base skills and continued his torrid pace on the base paths.
Between two levels, Hamilton posted .311/.410/.420 with 112 runs, 38 extra-base hits, 86 walks and 155 stolen bases in 132 games.
Whether he’s able to remain at shortstop is the only question. But with his speed, mediocre defense at any position should be easily outweighed by offensive contribution.