2014 stats: 10 G, 6-for-39, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 K, 2 SB, 1 CS
Outside of one game this season, it's been a painful learning process for young Billy Hamilton.
Sure, the speedster has already shown just how much he can change a game. When he gets on, he can steal bases, advance on shallow flyouts and make a pitcher's life miserable.
However, he has to get on base first.
Hamilton started the season by striking out in each of his four at-bats on Opening Day. He struck out only nine times in 55 at-bats during spring training, so Reds fans were hopeful he would be able to put the ball in play this season. That hasn't been the case. He's been chasing pitches out of the zone routinely, but that's to be expected from a young player.
Everyone knows speed is his biggest weapon. Fans have expected Hamilton to be running within the first pitch or two after gets on base, but he hasn't done much of that yet. Whether it's because the batter doesn't give him time or he doesn't feel comfortable running, Hamilton has yet to run loose.
Even after an excellent spring, nobody expected Hamilton to hit .300 this season. His inability to make solid contact has kept him from reaching base, which can help explain why the Reds have struggled to score this season.
Manager Bryan Price will eventually face a tough decision if Hamilton doesn't show improvements at the plate in the next month or two. At minimum, the skipper would have to consider moving the speedster down in the lineup.
Hamilton is in the majors out of necessity. The 23-year-old could use another season in the minors to work on his hitting, but the Reds need him in the majors. Two weeks is way too early to give up on him, especially considering all of his at-bats have come against the stellar pitching of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays.
No rookie is under more pressure to perform than Hamilton. If he is able to start getting on base and use his game-changing speed, the Reds' offense should begin to hit its stride.