Apparently to the rest of the world, we Reds fans must be looking at Billy Hamilton through rose-colored glasses. At least FanGraphs think so. In their “FanGraphs Top 100 Prospects” which they published on March 11, 2013 they write, “There isn’t a prospect in the game who has capitalized on a single tool like Billy Hamilton.”
Of course as you and I both know the single tool they are referring to is Hamilton’s world-class speed. So, let me press the point straight to you. Is that all there is to Hamilton, is his blinding speed? We know without being told that he is at best an average defensive shortstop. Since he is learning a new position, more question marks are being printed.
But remember, while speed does correlate with range, range alone can’t be equated with good routes and good defense.
In 2012 Hamilton carved an overall slash line of .311/.410/.420. It should be noted that most of those good numbers were put up while at Single-A Bakersfield. While at Double-A Pensecola his numbers were more in line with his minor league averages: .286/.406/.383.
The old adage hangs true. You can’t steal first base. We Reds fans have heard that too many times already. Yet speed, like love, covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). As we so nostalgically remember the pressure the defenses were under every time Drew Stubbs hit a ground ball. I would imagine Hamilton will resemble Ichiro Suzuki with the number of infield hits he is able to accumulate.
It is worthwhile to mention that FanGraphs has 10 teams with two prospects ahead of Hamilton. Within the NL Central, there are five prospects looking back at young Hamilton. We are all still viewing him correctly, yes?
All three lists mentioned above concur on the leading man. Jurickson Profar, a 20-year old shortstop in the Texas Rangers organization seems to be the top dog. He has a three-season minor league line of .276/.367/.450. He doesn’t appear to be an upper deck blaster, so what is the pull for him?
Hamilton is having a miserable Spring Training, it is true. In 20 plate appearances he has only hit two singles, stole three bases, walked twice and struck-out an unacceptable eight times, while compiling a .111 batting average.
This is the man we are all pinning our future on, at least most of us.
Let’s set some things straight. Hamilton will NOT be Ted Williams. He will not be The Wizard of Oz. He will not be the Savior to lead the Reds to the Promised Land. What he will be, is a very good lead-off batter who will steal over 100 bases and give the defensive infield the ‘delirious trembles’ every time he comes to bat. Maybe too much pressure is being applied to the young man too soon.
Who has him in the right pecking order, FanGraphs, Baseball America or MLB?
More importantly, where do you have him.
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