Posts tagged Cincinnati Reds

Prospect Profile: Billy Hamilton OF

Billy Hamilton, OF

Billy Hamilton, OF

Speed kills. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around often in sports. When it comes to Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, it certainly holds true. Newly converted from shortstop to the outfield, Hamilton has the speed to cover centerfield of Great American Ball Park, or just about any other park with ease.

 

After being selected in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft (57th overall), the 6’1” 160 lbs Mississippi native went to the Gulf Coast League. There he finished the season with a triple slash of .205/.253/.277 with  0 HR, 11 RBI, 14 SB. He then spent 2010 in the Pioneer League; he hit .318/.383/.456 with 2 HR, 24 RBI, and 48 SB. In 2011 while playing for Low A Dayton, Hamilton started showing off his great speed.

 

Billy stole 103 bases that season, and even had this inside the park homerun. Stealing bases is not all about speed though; it’s also about timing. He possesses great timing and it makes him a serious threat on the base paths. As the great Lou Brock said, “If you aim to steal 30 or 40 bases a year, you do it by surprising the other side. But if your goal is 50 to 100 bases the element of surprise doesn’t matter.  You go even though they know you’re going to go. Then each steal becomes a contest, matching your skills against theirs.” Billy’s stat line for the season was .278/.340/.360 for 3 HR, 50 RBI to go with the previously stated 103 SB.

 

Hamilton split the 2012 between High A and AA hitting for a combined .311/.410/.420 with 2 HR, 45 RBI, and 155 SB. No, that is not a typo. One hundred and fifty-five stolen bases in a single season; the major league single season record is one hundred and thirty-eight, held by Ricky Henderson. Now it’s not a comparison of these Hall of Famers, just showing how amazing this feat really is.

 

"Now how can I destroy Chapman's arm? Hmm..."

“Now how can I destroy Chapman’s arm? Hmm…”

 

As long as Hamilton continues to get on base (career OBP .364), he’s going to be a threat to steal. This is a great offensive weapon to have, and will make Hamilton an ideal leadoff hitter. It is difficult to find a comparison for Billy, but a combination of Ricky Henderson (1406 career stolen bases) and Tim Raines (2605 career hits) seems relatively close. He’s someone to look for in dynasty leagues only at this point, even with the positional move. As any Reds fan (or Cubs, or Giants…) can tell you Dusty Baker hates to put young guys in the game, unless he has no choice. Hamilton will start in AA with the chance for an AAA promotion, unless he forces himself into the big leagues. He’s likely a year away, so try to practice patience folks.

 

 

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Robert now resides in Philadelphia, PA. Has been playing fantasy football since 2003, and is a former high school football coach. Always a student of the game, he uses knowledge of coaching for fantasy wins. He’s always available for advice on twitter at @RoJoPal.

 

Fantasy Baseball: Mat Latos Player Profile

Could Mat Latos finish the year as a top 10 starting pitcher?

Could Mat Latos finish the year as a top 10 starting pitcher?

By Joe Costello

 

Mat Latos is one of the current stud starting pitchers for the Cincinnati Reds and began pitching for them last season after he was traded from the San Diego Padres, with whom he had played since 2009.  Latos was always viewed as a potential first round talent by scouts but fell until the 333rd overall pick (11th round) of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft on account of attitude problems he had during high school.  As a result of this, the Padres decided to watch closely over Latos as he attended Broward College for a year then signed him only a few days before he would have re-entered the 2007 draft.  Latos’ major league debut came on July 19, 2009; he would go on to win 4 of his first 5 major league starts.  Fast forward a few years and the most recent memory many fans will have of Latos is him giving up a grand slam to Buster Posey in the 2012 NLDS elimination game.  Latos went on to lose that game as the San Francisco Giants continued to roll, eventually winning the World Series.

 

Latos failed to crack double digit wins during his last season with the San Diego Padres in 2011.  He finished the season with the following stat line: (9-14), 194 IP, 185 Ks, 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.  These are very solid numbers across the board with the only blemish coming from the 9 wins which was largely a result of the putrid offense supporting him each time he took the mound.  It would be safe to say that had Latos pitched for a top-16 offense that his win total would have certainly improved.

 

Now, let’s take a look at what Latos did last year in his first season with the Reds: (14-4), 209 IP, 185 Ks, 3.48 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.  Other than the record flip, Latos’ production remained virtually unchanged.  We all know that wins and losses are largely out of a pitcher’s control which is why many hardcore fantasy sports owners employ the quality start over the “win” metric.  So, you are probably asking yourself why it was important to bring this to your attention.  Well, the reason is to demonstrate that Latos pitched in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks during his 2011 season with San Diego and then moved to one of the most hitter friendly ballparks in 2012 with Cincinnati.  The fact that Latos was able to provide the same pitching quality regardless of the ballpark speaks volumes of his talent.

 

Let’s now take a look at Latos’ 2012 season split into halves.  The first half looked like this: (7-2), 98 IP, 90 Ks, 4.42 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  His (K/9) ratio was 8.27 which is on par with his major league average so it is probably safe to assume that the inflated ERA came as a result of pitching in a new ballpark against newer opposition.  During the second half of the season Latos settled down to the tune of: (7-2), 112 IP, 95 Ks, 2.66 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.  Now that we have broken down his 2012 season we can better understand the complete picture.  Latos appears to be a lock for 200 IP, 180+ Ks, and very usable ERA/WHIP averages.  He should also have no problem winning double digit games again thanks to Cincinnati’s loaded offense.  The only knock on Latos appears to be that since 2009, he has had an average WHIP of 1.13 which is higher than what the true, upper echelon pitchers sport (his WHIP needs to recede down to around 1.00 to make that final leap and make him a “fantasy stud”).

 

Mat Latos will begin the 2013 season at the tender age of 25, yet displays the mound control of a seasoned veteran.  He currently has 5 pitches in his arsenal: four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup which further demonstrate that he is not a one-trick pony.  In fact, Mat Latos has a 42% strikeout rate when using his slider which is up there with the top major league starters.  After digesting all of this, it would not appear a stretch to think that with only minimal gains across the board, that Latos could elevate himself into the plateau of the truly dominant hurlers.  Now that he has a full season of learning NL-Central hitters as well as the dimensions of his home ball park, this may be the last time that fantasy owners can utilize his services without paying a draft day premium; once again, he is only 25-years-old.

 

Joe Costello is a staff writer for www.FantasyTrade411.com and can be reached on Twitter @jcswigga to answer any fantasy baseball or football questions.  I am also available to answer any commissioner related questions as I currently serve as League President for both baseball and football leagues.  You know what’s better than winning my own league?  Helping you win yours…