There’s no doubt that Billy Hamilton is one of the most highly anticipated prospects for the Cincinnati Reds. Although Hamilton is just shy of the top 10 prospects (per MLB.com), he is gaining plenty of national media attention.
However, Billy Hamilton didn't quite shine this spring in big–league camp. Hamilton has already been reassigned to minor league camp where he’ll likely join the Reds’ Triple–A affiliate in Louisville.
Even though he’s not joining the opening day roster, Hamilton still has the possibility to make an impact for the Reds in 2013.
Hamilton got a decent amount of work for his first time in spring training camp. He missed a few games this spring with a minor leg injury, but didn't rack up any outstanding numbers.
Billy Hamilton G AB R H RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
Spring Stats 12 23 4 4 0 3 0 2 9 .174 .240 .348
Reds fans shouldn't worry about the abysmal numbers from Hamilton, as he has yet to face a Triple–A pitcher. His impact on the 2013 club will all depend on how he fairs against better pitching.
The defensive move to center is becoming the least of the Reds' worries. Hamilton has steadily proven that he can command the position. What he needs to focus on is lowering his strikeouts. The Reds are hopeful for Hamilton as the leadoff hitter for years to come.
If Hamilton is the answer for leadoff, he has to cut down on his total strikeouts. Hamilton recorded 133 strikeouts in 2011 and 113 in 2012. While these aren't astronomical strikeout rates, Hamilton still has to improve getting on base and look more like a leadoff hitter.
The question is whether or not Billy Hamilton will have an actual impact on the 2013 season.
It’s pretty simple. If Hamilton excels in Triple–A Louisville, he will be called up in September. Anything before that is unlikely.
A lot of Hamilton’s opportunity to reach the majors this year depends on Shin-Soo Choo’s health. Choo is set to play center and although he’s handled the transition well this spring, it could lead to more potential injuries.
However, if Choo has to make any trip to the DL early in the season, Chris Heisey and Xavier Paul will platoon center. Unless Heisey and Paul both struggle mightily, Hamilton will stay put in Louisville.
Billy Hamilton has the best chance to make an impact at the end of the 2013 season. As a September call-up, Hamilton will be able to make his case for a spot on a possible postseason roster.
Reds fans shouldn't get ahead of themselves and expect an easy postseason run. It’s very likely that the Reds will be fighting the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates again for the top of the NL Central.
Hamilton’s speed could be a great bonus to the club. Not only could Hamilton work as a pinch runner or hitter, but as a defensive replacement. The club doesn't know how Choo will play a full season in center. Hamilton’s insane athleticism could be worthy late in games.
Hamilton could be the key to get the Reds to their second straight postseason. As a call–up, Hamilton would see about 15-20 at–bats. His goal will be to get on base and avoid the strikeouts. Hamilton’s speed will be recognized and even major league pitchers will sweat with him inching away from the bag.
Hamilton will be exciting to follow this year and it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue to improve. You might also wonder how many pairs of batting gloves Hamilton will have to buy for each stolen base. I’m guessing a lot.