Results tagged ‘ Cincinnati Reds ’
Here is Reds slugger Joey Votto as a Southern Leaguer in 2006 and an International Leaguer in 2007. Votto (MiLB bio here) played parts of six seasons in the Minors before earning his for-good call-up to Cincinnati in 2008. Click on any photo to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Flashback, click here.
Prospect Q&A: Reds CF Ryan LaMarre on Tag-teaming Atop Lineup with Billy Hamilton, Becoming Dynamic, More
Behind every great base-stealer, there is a hitter who is waiting to hit. Literally.
In 1982, when a 23-year-old Athletics left fielder named Rickey Henderson stole a career-high 130 bases, he batted leadoff and did much of his damage on the basepaths while No. 2 hitter Dwayne Murphy, Oakland’s center fielder at the time, was taking pitches, not fouling them off.
Thirty years later in 2012, when Reds top prospect Billy Hamilton stole 51 bags in 50 games at Double-A Pensacola to cap his historic 155-swipes season, there was No. 13 prospect Ryan LaMarre working the count, not swinging away.
Like Murphy, however, LaMarre (bio, stats here) is a few things: a good hitter in his own right, an outstanding defensive center fielder and, yeah, an accomplished base-stealer. Cincinnati’s 2010 second-round draftee racked up 55 SBs in 2011 before a foot injury and other circumstances limited him to 30 in ’12. (For the record, the A’s underrated Murphy stole 26 bases in ’82 and won the third of his six straight Gold Glove awards in the outfield’s more demanding position.)
I caught up with LaMarre, now a 24-year-old veteran of three Minor League seasons, to discuss these and other topics this afternoon. He took my call from Arizona — the Reds are hosting Spring Training in Goodyear, and LaMarre has been in town since Sunday night trying to crack his first Major League roster. Enjoy.
On how he spent his offseason: “It went good. I had a tear in my plantar fascia toward the end of last season, so I got that fixed up, got out of a boot probably in late November and then went [into] lifting, conditioning, getting all that stuff in. Then I was back at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, throwing and hitting with some guys. It was good, it went quick, but I feel like I got a lot accomplished. I always try to get a little bigger, stronger, faster, but definitely this offseason I paid more attention to how my body was feeling. If my foot was foot was biting back, I had to pump the breaks a little bit. It responded well, and I think we had a good plan going. The guy who owns the gym that I worked out at did an unbelievable job coming up with a plan and ways to get around my foot problems. I’m feeling great, healthy, ready to go now.”
On evaluating his 2012 season: “It was a good year overall. It was a learning experience. I wasn’t completely satisfied or anything. I always expect more of myself. But I hit leadoff for the first time, for about half of the season, which was a new experience for me — I had never done that. I was trying to work counts, get on base. … It was my first time when I played that many  games, and I think there’s something to be said about that. It was also cool playing for [then-Blue Wahoos manager] Jim Riggleman, knowing that he’s been in the big leagues, he’s done it before. He can tell you what you need to work on to get to that next level. It was just cool to have a guy around that’s been there, and it was just recently that he was there.”
Who Is The Next Billy Hamilton? Wait… Is There Going To Be Another? Four Potential Candidates Examined
We should have seen it coming. All of us. It was foretold in the statistics, as most everything in baseball is.
Billy Hamilton — the fastest man in the Minor Leagues, the all-time stolen-base leader in the Minors, the No. 1 prospect in the Reds’ system and something of the real-life Willie Mays Hayes — swiped 48 bags in 69 games in 2010, his first Class A Short-Season season as a pro.
Forty-eight SBs in 69 Gs is equal proportionally to 94 SBs in 135 Gs.
So we should not have been surprised to see Hamilton, a year wiser in 2011, swipe 104 bags in 135 games. We could have expected that jump in production, just as we could have anticipated his 155-steal, 132-game campaign last season. The simple math dictated his historic run.
In advance of Hamilton’s first Major League Spring Training come February, it’s worthwhile then to do some data-diving and find the next great basepaths-burner lying in wait in the Minor Leagues. According to my research, there are four names to watch. There were chosen because of their speed and ability to steal second and third, yes, but also because of where they’re at in their careers and due to their Hamilton-like potential to be a solid-to-good hitter and a quality up-the-middle-defender.
A 5-foot-10 skinny shortstop that is going from high school hacker to professional switch-hitter? As Fangraphs’ Mike Newman noted recently, his type is a familiar one.
Another prept-to-pro project, he’s a 6-foot-1 center fielder from Hamilton’s home state, Mississippi.
A 5-foot-10 center fielder and “the son of former big league reliever Chuck McElroy,” notes MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, “C.J. … is the fastest player in the Cardinals system and likely one of the fastest in all of Minor League Baseball.”
A 5-foot-11 center fielder, Galindo has actually stolen 40-plus bases three years in a row but has yet to play at the Class A Advanced level. Expect him to emerge onto the scene this spring and summer in San Jose.
Other to keep tabs on: Padres No. 18 prospect Jace Peterson, Dodgers No. 10 prospect James Baldwin, White Sox No. 5 prospect Keenyn Walker, Rays’ No. 15 prospect Ryan Brett and Orioles’ No. 6 prospect Glynn Davis. … Rangers No. 7 prospect Luis Sardinas told me in an interview that will run on this site next week that he aims to steal 50 bases in 2013. Sardinas, a gifted defensive shortstop blocked by Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar in Texas, swiped 32 in ’12. … Expect also Pirates No. 3 prospect Alen Hanson to pass up fellow top Pittsburgh prospect Gregory Polanco as a stolen-base threat. Polanco stole 40 bases in ’12, but his 6-foot-4 frame doesn’t portend high totals as he adds weight and develops into more of a middle-of-the-order hitter. … And, oh, of course Hamilton, who will likely be beginning ’13 at Triple-A Louisville, and the Astros’ Delino DeShields, whose 101-steal ’12 was overshadowed but still worthy of praise. … Also: the Rockies’ Rafael Ortega, the Padres’ Rico Noel, the Angels’ Chevy Clarke, the Tigers’ Austin Schotts, the Blue Jays’ Anthony Alford and the Athletics’ Aaron Shipman.
Alright, who did I leave out?
A Wrap of Billy Hamilton’s Chat: His Connection to Willie Mays Hayes and Whether He Can Beat Rickey Henderson in A Race
Billy Hamilton — the fastest man in the Minor Leagues, the all-time stolen-base leader in the Minors, and the No. 1 prospect in the Reds’ system — took over the @MLBFutures Twitter account Thursday afternoon to answer questions from fellow Tweeters. I asked him about what jersey number he’ll wear in Cincinnati, and a dozen others had their queries answered, too. Below is the transcript, spelling and grammar gone uncorrected. Hamilton’s words are in bullet points; mine are in italics.
- On his goals for 2013: “my goal is to be better than I was last year then I’ll be fine”
- On the coolest part of being a pro ballplayer: “just getting to meet people u grew up watching and to be around the best people”
- On which side of the plate he’s more comfortable hitting from: “I actually feel really good from both sides”
Hamilton was strictly a right-handed hitter in high school before taking up switch-hitting in his first year as a pro. His splits in 2012 are as follows. At Double-A Pensacola: .306 versus lefties, .278 versus righties. At Class A Advanced Bakersfield: .320 versus lefties, .325 versus righties.
- On who would win a Hamilton-Rickey Henderson-Superman three-way race: “I would have to go with myself on that one”
I have a feeling Rickey would disagree.
- On if he is related to Angels slugger Josh Hamilton: “maybe on down the line lol jus kidding”
- On if he’d rather homer or triple and steal home in his first MLB at-bat: “I’ll say triple and steal home”
- On a past/present base-stealer he admires: “Delino deshields was great and he’s teaching me to be great”
When I interviewed Hamilton, he had this to say about DeShields, his former Minor League manager: “He taught me that it’s about confidence. He said, ‘Most guys get thrown out a few times and then don’t try to run for a long time. You have to have your confidence.’ If I get thrown out, I say, ‘Next time, I’m going again.’ You can’t be scared.”
- On what jersey number he hopes to wear in the Majors: “00 like Willie mays Hayes off of the movie major league”
I don’t believe this (video below) has ever happened to Hamilton, who has mainly worn “4″ and “12″ in the Minors.
- On his secret, non-baseball talent: “I’m a pretty good golfer”
- On whether he is feeling the effects of crashing into the outfield well in the AFL title game last month: “no effects after the crash I’m feeling great!!!”
- On whether he prefers Gold Star or Skyline chili in Cincinnati: “I guess Im gonna go with skyline since my buddy take me there every time I’m in Cincy”
- On which ballplayer he idolized growing up: “Rafael Furcal was my favorite player I was a big braves fan growing up”
Hamilton is listed at 6’1”, 190 pounds – Furcal at 5’8”, 190.
- On how his transition from shortstop to center field is going: “Cf is coming along pretty good I have a lot to learn but I’m getting it”
Hamilton was drafted as an infielder in 2009. He committed 39 errors at shortstop in 2011, and 31 at shortstop in 2012. … You know who else played center field, right?
Squeezed Out … of The Outfield: Are Angels, Red Sox, Reds and Giants Bridging to/Blocking Prospects?
When word broke of the Angels swooping in and signing former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton this hour, his soon-to-be-official teammates in Los Angeles were Tweeting to their heart’s content. A small sampling:
- @Trouty20 (CF Mike Trout): “Wow”
- @NickMaronde (LHP Nick Maronde): “Glad I don’t have to face the
@Angels lineup! #Halonation“
- @GRichards26 (RHP Garrett Richards): “I am so excited for this year!!! Welcome
- @CCron24 (1B C.J. Cron): “Welcome the newest member of the Halo family
All pretty standard stuff, though it’s easy to appreciate Trout’s genuine surprise.
Personally, I was struck by a Tweet from Randal Grichuk, however. Remember him? He’s the guy the Halos drafted a slot ahead of Trout in 2009 (even though they rated Trout ahead of him). Here is what Grichuk sent out from his social media account (@RGrich15): “Wow phone will not stop going off about the Angels signing
@thejoshhamilton !!! No team better than the @Angels #ALWest“.
Either Grichuk is just the ultimate team-first guy or he is so much a cliche-clenching ballplayer that he is taking it one day at a time and not worrying about whether Hamilton just limited his Major League chances in the coming couple years.
Whatever the case, if you’ve been reading this blog since day one or are just stumbling upon it this afternoon, you probably know PROSPECTive has a different mindset about such things. There’s plenty of room for hypotheticals here. And, here and now, I wonder aloud how teams’ offseason splashes could affect their pools of prospects. We’ll start this with the outfielders. (Look for infielders and pitchers sometime next week.)
Briding to/Blocking: This is clearly a blocking of Brentz, who depending upon who you ask is either Major League-ready of very close to it. This is a bridging to of Bradley, who is developing into a on-base machine/strong defender in center. Victorino can shift to a corner and Jacoby Ellsbury will likely be gone by the time of Bradley’s first callup. Jacobs, while talented, is far enough away that he doesn’t have to worry quite yet.
Briding to/Blocking: This is a clear bridging to, and a smart one. Cincinnati will count on Choo to man center field next spring, then watch him leave and have either Hamilton or LaMarre, both potential leadoff men who can steal bases and cover a lot of grass in the outfield, replace him ably in the lineup. Hamilton is likely to get the gig in ’14, meaning LaMarre would be a nice fourth outfield option behind Ludwick and Jay Bruce.
MiLB prospects: Gary Brown (has played AA ball)
Briding to/Blocking: Another bridging to, even if this case isn’t as obvious. Yes, the Giants gave Pagan too many years (four) and dollars (40 million), but he can move to left when Brown is ready for big league ball in 2014. Brown has similar skills (leadoff ability, gap power, a lot of range in the outfield) and is still looked at as an impact player in the Giants organization despite his less-than-spectacular season at Double-A this year.
MLB veterans: Josh Hamilton (signed through 2017)
Analysis: With Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Hamilton and Mark Trumbo (who can also play the infield) all in the mix, I wouldn’t want to be a fringe Angels outfield prospect in the next five years. Calhoun is probably a bench player and Witherspoon is a question mark at this point, while many believe Grichuk can develop into a starter so long as he stays healthy. But it’s hard to imagine him breaking into this outfield anytime in the next couple years. Score this one a blocking.
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 42-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Kourage Kundahl: If you’re Cincinnati, how do you handle Billy Hamilton? Develop further in Double-A Pensacola, or put him on the AAA fast track?
If I’m Cincinnati, I would start Hamilton at Triple-A Louisville next season. He did enough at Pensacola in 2012 with his bat (.286 .AVG, .406 OBP and 36-43 BB-K in 50 games) to prove that he is ready for another challenge. The International League will present that challenge. The 22-year-old switch-hitter has work to do at the plate — making his swing more fluid would be a start — if he and the Reds want him to be more than a base-stealer. (Remember, to be a good base-stealer, you need to be able to get on base consistently.) So will Hamilton start ’13 in Louisville? The only way, I think, he could be held back for more seasoning at Double-A is if Walt Jocketty and Co. are unimpressed with the shortstop-turned-center fielder’s acclimation on defense. Hamilton is learning his new position in the Arizona Fall League, however, and he obviously has the athleticism and the baseball smarts to be, at least, an average defender. There’s no reason he can’t work on that part of his game at Triple-A, one level below the bigs.
Mike Squier: Could I get your complete analysis of Tyler Collins in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system? What are the chances of him getting to the bigs? His strikeout-to-walk ratio, plus 20 stolen bases — interesting…
Collins is definitely a guy that deserves to be talked about more following his 2012 at Class A Advanced Lakeland: .290/.371/.429 and, as you mentioned that 58-64 BB-K ratio and 20-for-23 success rate on the basepaths. I am high on Collins’ bat, as his swing is not unlike his stature: short, but powerful. It’s hard to argue with his production, too. Where my enthusiasm declines: Collins is, at most, an average defender in left field and, despite that 20-steal total, is very likely a 10-to-12 steal guy when he gets to the bigs. And that was your other question, wasn’t it? His chances of getting to the bigs? I would put them very high because of that bat, his one standout tool. He will be able to hit Major League pitching, though we might differ on how well and how often he goes deep. From the reports I have read, Collins will hit some home runs but should be considered more of a gap-to-gap hitter. This is all starting to sound familiar. Andy Dirks 2.0?
J.P. Schwartz: Who are your top five overall prospects for 2013 and why? Thanks.
Below is my top five, though I preface the list with this: Rankings, as much as you and I might love them, are very subjective and often poorly defined. Are we talking about, for example, the five Minor Leaguers who have the highest ceilings, the five Minor Leaguers with high ceilings who are most likely to reach them or some combination of the two? And is a player further along in his development ranked ahead of a player that is, say, only a year into his career? Every so-called expert weighs these things differently. Let me tell you that I am ranking players with high ceilings who are almost certain to reach them, and I should also add that I show a subjectivity toward position players. (That there are three pitchers in my top five — and seven pitchers in MLB.com’s top 10 — shows just how many elite pitching prospects there are knocking on the door of the bigs.)
1. Wil Myers: He is most natural hitter in the Minor Leagues. From talking to him, opposing pitchers and the Royals, I get the sense that Myers can make up his mind whether he wants to his .330 with some power and some strikeouts or .300 with more power and a lot more strikeouts. Either way, he was the best offensive player in the Minors in 2012 and, barring an Opening Day nod in Kansas City, will be again in 2013. I also like the fact that Myers adds value not only with his versatility, but also his deftness at playing any outfield position as well as third base.
2. Jurickson Profar: No. 1 on a lot of others’ charts, I have Profar a step below Myers despite the fact that he plays a premium position (shortstop) at a potentially gold glove-caliber level. Why then? Well, Profar is still 19 and, in my mind, a ways off from being a star in the Majors. He could probably be an above-average Major Leaguer tomorrow, which is why I don’t disagree with the Rangers promoting him late last season, but he’s not as far along his career path as Myers, who could star tomorrow. One other thing I like about Profar: Like Manny Machado, he seems to play “up” to his level of competition. Not all prospects are like that.
3. Dylan Bundy: At 19 and in his first season, Bundy not only got to Double-A, but to the Majors. And I’m not sure it will be long before he’s back for good. The right-hander has as much or more stuff and poise of any Minor League pitching prospect. And as long as we’re talking ceilings, Bundy is very sure to reach his. Ironically, that is also my only qualm — and many scouts’, too — with the Orioles’ ace of the future. Is he peaking now? How can he get any better? He’s a workout fiend and, at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, isn’t going to change his body as he ages (he turns 20 in eight days, by the way). How good will be when he can no longer pump his fastball up to triple digits? Those questions explain why Baltimore was so intent on Bundy improving his secondary pitches, particularly his changeup, this year.
4. Gerrit Cole: Because I’m working in New York City and not at a Minor League ballpark near you, I tend to place a greater emphasis on a prospect’s actual production than other scribes. It’s a more data-driven, on-the-surface way of looking at things, but I don’t have the scout’s eye that tells me that a guy with an ERA over 5.00 is a better prospect than a guy sporting an ERA sub-3.00. Which bring me to Cole, who happens to projectable and productive. He was consistently strong, if not stellar, in 26 starts in 2012. (He was the No. 1 overall draftee in 2011 but didn’t pitch that season.) I would expect him to be in the Majors by next June.
5. Jose Fernandez: Some won’t have this Marlins farmhand among their top 25 prospects for 2013, let alone their top five. And, to be honest, I can’t understand why. His 1.75 ERA at Class A and Class A Advanced this year shows that, at age 20 and in his first full season, he was facing inferior competition. That won’t be the case when he begins next year at Double-A Jacksonville. Based on where I have him ranked, of course, I expect him to excel there as well.
Josh Pfaffle: Do you think Nick Franklin can make the Mariners roster next year and produce?
Next year, yes. To start next year, I’m not sure. Franklin is a strong prospect, but he hasn’t yet proven his bat against Triple-A pitching: .243/.310/.416 in 64 games at Tacoma last year. I have little doubt that he can, but that’s not the only obstacle to clear before he joins the Mariners. After playing mostly shortstop at Double-A Jackson, the 21-year-old switch-hitter started playing more second base at Tacoma and is playing there almost exclusively in the Fall League. If Seattle’s brass deems him a better defensive fit there, a decision will have to be made about him or incumbent Dustin Ackley.
Josh Pfaffle: How do you think the Mariners prospects will affect the big league team, and how far are they away? Do you see James Paxton or any other prospects getting traded for a proven bat?
That Big Three — starting pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Paxton — needs at least another half-season (and, likely, a full season or more) of development in the Minors. That leaves Franklin, who would need to catch fire in Spring Training to make the Opening Day club, and catcher Mike Zunino, who is probably another full season away, too. So as far as the M’s elite prospects making a difference, I would expect them to make a significant impact — but not before the 2014 season. And, by the 2015 season, watch out. Sluggers like Brad Miller and Stefen Romero should be in Seattle by then, too. Their presence — and continued emergence — would lessen the pressure to deal away Paxton or one the organization’s other top pitching talents. There is a lot to be excited about if you’re a Mariners fan.
Pierre: Andrew, I have the No. 9 pick in my Dynasty League Rookie Draft. All the players who made their debut in 2012 are available. What’s your top 10 list? Harper, Cespedes, Middlebrooks, Machado, Olt, Profar, Darvish, Harvey, Bauer, S. Miller, Bundy, Skaggs, M.Perez, Odorizzi, etc…
Let me say first off, Pierre, that I’m no fantasy baseball expert. I have suggested to my editor that we start a fantasy baseball advice column at MiLB.com, so that could be an addition to our prospects coverage by Opening Day 2013. That said, I’ll try and help you out now. I’m guessing that Mike Trout, who made his Majors debut in 2011, is not available, or you would have included him in your list. So we’ll leave him off mine, too. I’m also assuming prospects who have yet to appear in the Majors (like, say, Wil Myers) aren’t eligible in your draft, so we’ll stick to prospects who made their MLB debuts in 2012. Here’s my list, in order:
- Bryce Harper
- Manny Machado
- Jurickson Profar
- Dylan Bundy
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Yu Darvish
- Matt Harvey
- Shelby Miller
- Will Middlebrooks
- Tony Cingrani
Reena (from Tucson): Which player this year has surprised you the most by excelling as a player? Who do you see as a breakout star?
I would zero in on Tyler Austin (Yankees) and Dan Straily (A’s). Here are the blurbs I wrote about each player’s “Breakout Prospect” bid for our annual MiLBY Awards coverage:
Austin, a 13th-round draftee in 2010, reached Double-A the week of his 21st birthday during his first healthy season. He hit 14 homers in 70 games, including six in one seven-game stretch, with Class A Charleston.
Straily, a 24th-round draftee in 2009, pitched at three levels, finishing in the Majors. The K’s were his calling card, as he led the Minors most of the year.
As far as identifying the next breakout star, it’s very difficult to pick out a guy who goes from nothing to something in such a short span. Austin and Straily, in all honesty, weren’t on my radar entering last season, and I’m not in the minority on that one. Who’s on my radar entering next season? I’ll give you a hitter and a pitcher: Max Kepler (Twins) and Josh Bowman (A’s), guys I’ve written about on this site.
There is one thing I have noticed about you since I started carving out this prospects-focused beat at MiLB.com. Well, not you in particular, but prospects-focused readers like you.
The one thing I have noticed? Patience is at a premium. Whenever I am answering — and soliciting questions — from the MiLB.com audience, I find that I am most often asked Why isn’t Jonathan Singleton up to Triple-A yet? or Gary Brown is going to be in the Majors next month, right?
My response is almost always positively negatory — but not because I don’t understand the anxiousness. You hear about a top young player in your team’s system and you wonder OK, when is this guy going to star in the bigs? And the measured response, Two or three years from now, can be sobering. I get that. I’m a baseball fan, too. But good players take time to develop. Lots of time.
Which brings us to Billy Hamilton. I interviewed the Stolen Base King in February before he became the Stolen Base King in September. He was just coming off a 103-steal 2011 season at Class A Dayton, so he was no unknown. In retrospect, though, the timing was great.
We spoke (me at a desk in Manhattan, Hamilton at his home in Mississippi) not long before he embarked upon his amazing 155-thefts campaign this year at Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola. Talking in his quiet but quick Southern twang, Hamilton told me about the wisdom he picked up from the likes of Joe Morgan and Delino DeShields. But his most telling comments came when I asked him about his secret to not getting caught on the basepaths:
“If you draw an imaginary line [in the dirt], you can get to that spot every time [you take a lead], so you don’t have to think about getting back or not. You have to get to a point where you are thinking forward and not thinking backward, and then it’s pretty easy stealing bases [because] you’re not worried about getting back. If you make a false step and you’re able to get back, you know you’re good, so the only thing you think about is going forward.”
Which brings us back to you. OK, not really you, but a reader perhaps not unlike you. There was one comment on that Hamilton Q&A, and it said succinctly Not even in advanced a yet? can’t be that much of a stud.
Six months later, we can all agree, Hamilton is a stud.
Which brings us to another offseason and another question for the Minor League’s fastest man. Hamilton is slated to play in the Fall League for the first time — he is in Arizona working on his defense in center field, not in Mississippi fielding interview requests about his struggles at shortstop.
And I’m the one wondering: Will he break yet another league’s stolen-base record before the calendar year ends?
Yeah, I’m the impatient one. Hamilton is, after all, the most exciting player in the Minors (at least, according to his peers). So it’s almost a letdown when he’s not, you know, doing something exciting.
So indulge me. To estimate the possibility of an eventful October and November over there on the West Coast, let’s do some math. An AFL official told me the other day that one Rickey Holifield stole 24 bags for the 1994 Peoria Javelinas. That is the record on the books.
Coincidentally, Hamilton is also playing for the Reds-affiliated Javelinas, though he sat out the club’s first two games of the season. Let’s say Hamilton plays in 25 of the remaining 30 games (including their afternoon tilt with Phoenix on Thursday). He would need to average one theft per game to eclipse Holifield’s two-dozen total. (In the Minors this year, Hamilton averaged 1.17/game.)
Here is what he’s up against: Only one ballplayer since 2005 has racked up 20 steals in the AFL (a league more for slugging than stealing) since 2005 — Eric Young swiped that many in 31 games for the Desert Dogs in ’08.
So will Hamilton do it? I don’t know.
And before you ask when Hamilton will be in a Reds uniform, I don’t know that for sure either. Maybe another year, maybe half of one.
I do know this: He’ll be running as fast as he can on his way there.
I report for MiLB.com four days a week during the offseason, so I am bound to miss out on some significant news. “While You and I Were Out” catches both of us up. And to make the news a little less stale, I’ll add my analysis.
News: Reds moving Hamilton to outfield (Tuesday, Oct. 2)
Analysis: Smart move by Cincinnati’s brass for the reasons Bill Bavasi, Reds vice president of scouting and player development, mentioned: The organization has shortstop depth, and playing center field will lessen the pounding on Billy Hamilton’s slight frame. What Bavasi didn’t mention: Hamilton just isn’t a good defensive shortstop. Not the most sophisticated metric, sure, but Hamilton committed 31 errors in 132 Minor League games in 2012. All indications are that he was always bound for the outfield, which begs one question. Shouldn’t he have been moved their sooner? Clubs generally ascribe to this philosophy with their top offensive-minded (or in Hamilton’s case, speed-minded) prospects: We will keep him at the more premium position until he proves he can no longer play there. Whether it was the error total or, more likely, his unnatural movements at the infield’s most arduous position, Bavasi and Co. will get to see Hamilton shift to center in the Arizona Fall League, which kicks off on Oct. 9.
News: Banuelos to undergo elbow surgery (Tuesday, Oct. 2)
Analysis: More bad news for Manny Banuelos and the Yankees’ system. With Banuelos, who missed most of 2012 hoping to avoid going under the knife, out of action and Dellin Betances looking more like a washout than a big leaguer, the Yanks are very short on legit pitching prospects. (You could count ’12 draftee Ty Hensley, but he’s very likely three-plus years away.) Banuelos will be just 23 when he returns to the mound — Tommy John survivors typically take 12 to 18 mounds to come back — and he’s very much still a good prospect. But New York’s grand plan to cut its MLB payroll and strengthen its resources down on the farm may have to remain in the planning stages for a while longer.