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.
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.