Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton: Don't Write Him off Just Yet

Michael NatelliCorrespondent IApril 3, 2014

Billy Hamilton hasn't gotten off to the start he hoped for this season.
Billy Hamilton hasn't gotten off to the start he hoped for this season.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Billy Hamilton hasn't gotten off to the hot start he'd hoped for so far this season, as he's gone a combined 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in the Reds' first two games. 

But while those numbers are far from flattering, we're still in the first week of the season and have a lot of baseball left. It's frustrating for Reds fans to sit there and watch their top prospect struggle, but some patience is necessary here.

The Reds figure to contend for at least a wild-card spot this season, meaning their tolerance for struggling young players will likely be significantly lower than that of, say, the Chicago Cubs. However, considering what Hamilton can potentially bring to the table as a threat on the base paths, it's worth it for manager Bryan Price to at least give him a week's worth of at-bats to see if he can turn things around.

There were concerns over how productive a big league hitter Hamilton could be when he was first called up last year (he hit .256 at Triple-A Louisville), and in the two games he's played so far this season, he hasn't done anything to erase those concerns. So perhaps he's on the path to becoming the next Tony Campana—incredible speed, below-average hitter without overwhelming defense—which would be very disappointing for fans everywhere who were excited to see his speed on the basepaths on a regular basis.

But to jump to that conclusion and call for Hamilton to be benched or sent down at this point is a bit premature, so let's give him a little more time before making any final judgments. 

And if he continues to struggle, Cincinnati has Chris Heisey on the bench ready to take over in center field, and at some point, some teams will start to fall out of the playoff hunt, meaning quality outfielders will be available on the trade market.

But those thoughts should be something to put aside for the time being, as Hamilton deserves an opportunity to prove that his early struggles were because he opened the season against top Cardinals arms Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, not because he can't hit.