Leading organizational prospect and Louisville Bats outfielder Billy Hamilton was ranked as the eleventh-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com Tuesday evening as part of the release of their highly anticipated Top 100 list.
Hamilton, who gained national attention last season in his chase for the single-season stolen base record, jumped three spots from his most recent 2012 mark and more than twenty positions over the past year. The newly-minted Triple-A outfielder also earned high marks from MLB.com analyst Jonathan Mayo, as his profile shows high marks in running (surprise!), fielding, and throwing. After highlighting his speed — the draft expert called the 22-year-old “the fastest man in baseball” — Mayo detailed some other aspects of Hamilton’s game:
His overall ability to hit has improved and most don’t fear he’ll be one of those speedsters who falters at the highest level… Hamilton made the move from shortstop to center field in the Arizona Fall League and showed pretty good instincts there from the get-go, with the ability to out-run mistakes as he learns more about getting good reads and jumps.
Whenever he gets to the big leagues, he’s going to make an immediate impact.
He is joined by Robert Stephenson (#51) and southpaw Tony Cingrani (#66) as the only Reds prospects on the list. The first- and third-round picks of the 2011 Amateur Draft, respectively, both pitchers saw promotions last season and are now regular 2-3 fixtures on team rankings across the Internet. The latter was rated the sixth-best left-handed pitching prospect in the minors, but Stephenson has quietly risen to prominence outside the Cincinnati sphere of influence. Said Mayo:
Stephenson has everything a team wants in a frontline starter, from size to stuff to mound presence. His fastball is a plus pitch and his curve shows glimpses of giving him another above-average or plus offering. Stephenson has shown improvement with his changeup as well, giving him three pitches to succeed as he moves up the ladder. As he learns more about pitching, he should have at least average command.
Ranking position players by the terms Hit, Power, Run, Arm, Field, and Overall, Hamilton is projected to either maintain or improve upon all facets of his performance. This new feature of the Prospect Watch includes numerical scores from 2 to 8, and Hamilton earned grades of 4, 3, 8, 5, 5, and 5. The same applies for Stephenson and Cingrani, rated by the pitching metrics of Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Control, and Overall. Mayo will rank the top twenty prospects in the Cincinnati farm system on February 6, along with the rest of the Reds’ divisional foes.
For heavier reading, you can reference Mayo’s summary including position breakdowns, Mark Sheldon’s report, and the 2013 Prospect Watch. Seedlings to Stars, FanSided’s prospect site, is also releasing their breakdown of the best
100 115 players on the farm; their latest dispatch covers players through the eleventh position, and Hamilton hasn’t made an appearance yet, if you catch my drift.