Feb 16, 2013; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Hamilton poses during photo day at the Reds Spring Training Facility. (Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

The Expectations of Being Billy Hamilton

Okay, so you look at what Reds top prospect Billy Hamilton has produced thus far in spring and you’re one that’s left shaking your head. You might even approach a state of concern, worry or any other synonym and attach that. If you are doing that, it’s time to step back for a bit…and avoid tweeting.

For anyone expecting Hamilton to display instant success just because it’s spring training and he’s a top 20 MLB prospect is clearly ridiculous. Spring training is important, no question, but different players have different agendas and Hamilton’s might not be what you feel it should be. Stating that Hamilton is “clearly not ready for the majors” is completely asinine.

Think of that logic for a minute.

You’re putting that “label” on a guy that has never played a single game above Double-A. Sure, there’s been a myriad of players that have made that jump before. Some of those players have been “asked” to make that jump. Not the case with Hamilton. He isn’t being asked or told to make such a move. Have you already forgotten why the Reds made the trade for Shin-Soo Choo? Apparently so if you’re even going this route on Hamilton.

Aside from a smattering of AFL games, tracking some fly balls during batting practice while in Pensacola, and any activity Hamilton has had in center this spring training, consider the following. Hamilton has never played his new position of center field, let alone any other outfield position. In Hamilton’s four seasons in the Reds organization, he has played shortstop with the exception of 55 games in which he played second base when he was in Billings during the 2010 season.

So you now you want to mention Bryce Harper. Harper has made both the organizational and positional moves. Harper was also afforded the opportunity to play almost 130 games as an outfielder while in the minors prior to being called up last season. Despite the meteoric rise of Harper through the minors, the Nats had a plan in place for him.

And then redirect yourself back two paragraphs about the time Hamilton has had as an outfielder.

Go ahead and mention Choo here if you felt lead to do so, and I’ll state the following.

Granted, Choo is a converted pitcher, but Choo has played outfield ever since he started his American baseball career – in 2001. He’s played in the outfield for more than a decade. Big difference there. Comparing these situations is also ludicrous.

In addition, Hamilton is not even on the Reds 40-man roster. He is in spring training with the big club because he is a non-roster invitee. He’s not expected to make the club. Now, that doesn’t mean he will take the field and not give his all by any means. There are areas he is working on and as long as Hamilton and the Reds brass are satisfied with the progress, who are we to question/criticize it?

And yes, NRIs have made the Reds roster out of spring training in the past. Mike Leake is one such recent example.

If you’re one that’s putting any significant expectations squarely on Hamilton’s offensive production this spring, you should seriously look elsewhere as your vision is completely misguided. While Reds fans are anxious to see Hamilton roam center field at Great American Ball Park and have his name at the top of the batting order, they are wise that the goal is to have Hamilton be productive as a Red in 2014.

Until then, let the guy be.

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Tags: Billy Hamilton Cincinnati Reds Spring Training

  • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

    Nice piece.

  • Josh Bresser

    Nice article. I’ve actually seen people on Facebook act like the season is over because the Reds are 2-11 in Spring Training…I wish I was joking.

    In regards to Choo, I wonder if the Reds could explore keeping him in Cincinnati past 2013. Everyone seems to assume that Choo is gone after this year because of Hamilton overtaking the position. However, Walt Jocketty said that he’s interested in keeping Choo beyond 2013.

    Obviously, they can’t have 2 center fielders, and since Ludwick and Bruce occupy the 2 other positions in the OF, that’d be a difficult situation. One situation that I’ve heard being thrown around is that the Reds want to give Hamilton another year to develop (which,his Spring Training so far isn’t really swaying them otherwise I wouldn’t think) and wait until Ludwick’s contract runs out to call Hamilton up. Basically, you’d have Choo in center for the next 2 years, then switch to left when Ludwick’s deal is up and Hamilton moves to CF. I’m not sure if that was actually from any internal sources or not, but it is something being discussed.

    What would you think of that?

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      I’m not 100% sold Choo is gone after this season either. Walt appears to be one GM that has no issues in dealing with Scott Boras. I think some of this will also depend on how Hamilton fares this season in Louisville.

      I feel if the Reds truly wanted to give Hamilton two more years to develop, then I believe they would have him starting this season in Pensacola instead of Louisville. I mention he’s not played any games above Double-A. He’s only played 50 games at Double-A.

      I know you’re not joking about people calling the season over. The negative folk are everywhere.

      FWIW, the same dude ripping Hamilton on Twitter was also ripping Chapman for giving up the home run to Howie Kendrick. Says should have left him in the ‘pen. His Twitter profile states he knows all aspects of the game. Does that constitute Twitter fraud? Asking for a friend…

      • beeker

        This guy sounds like proof of the axiom that knowledge is not the same thing as understanding.

      • Josh Bresser

        Some people shouldn’t have internet access.

        • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

          I laughed when I first read this and I’m still laughing a day later.

  • beeker

    Whatever happened to just letting a guy develop? One of the beauties of baseball is watch a guy like this develop. Too many people want it all now Now NOW!!