Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton, Reds Future SS or Outfielder?

Diamond NotesCorrespondent IIIDecember 19, 2011

Billy Hamilton, Photo
Billy Hamilton, Photo

The Cincinnati Reds are very high on their 2009 No. 2 draft pick, shortstop Billy Hamilton. The only question seems to be, what position is he best suited for? While Zack Cozart appears to possibly be the answer at short, Hamilton may not be the answer if he fails.

In May, Mark Sheldon of reported in his article, "Hamilton on fast track to be Red's leadoff man" that Reds vice president of scouting, player development and international operations Bill Bavasi said this of Hamilton: "We think a lot of him. He's from a good looking crop of guys that popped out from Billings and Arizona. He's certainly one of the top guys in that group."

Hamilton started his professional career in 2009 at shortstop with the Gulf Coast League Reds. In 2010 he struggled so much at short that he was moved to second base and played very well.

In 2011 at Dayton (low-A) he played short and started off poorly, committing 14 errors in his first 29 games. He played better from that point, but still committed a total of 39 errors. According to Sheldon's recent article "Hamilton quickly moving in the right direction," Jocketty and the Reds have high expectations for him.

"A lot guys make errors in the early years of their career," Jocketty said. "He's someone we think very highly of. He's a great young man."

As Sheldon put it, "Hamilton's athleticism has really been seen defensively, but his ability is still raw."

While Hamilton has great speed, good range, a good arm and great athleticism, shortstop may not be his position. He played second base very well at Billings, but because of his range he's moved back to short.

May be he is better suited for the outfield. With his range and Drew Stubbs' range, most fly balls that stay in the park would be caught. According to Sheldon, Bavasi says Hamilton will do whatever it takes.

"He does all the things you want. He's got speed and can run. He has a good arm," Bavasi said.

If Hamilton continues to struggle at short, I see the Reds moving him to the outfield or possibly back to second. Regardless of where he plays, he is likely to be the Reds' leadoff hitter very soon.