There are few players who have the ability to single-handedly win a category for you. One of those is the Reds’ Billy Hamilton, who has the potential to be the type of stolen base threat like Ricky Henderson or Vince Coleman. While we still have some time to wait, let’s take a look at everything we need to know about him:
- 21-years old
- Shortstop (did see time at 2B in ’11)
- Switch Hitter
- Drafted in the second round (57th overall) in 2009
- Stole 103 bases in 123 attempts at Low Single-A in ‘11
- Over first 70 games (283 AB) has 90 SB in 107 attempts
- In 2012 has hit well against both righties (.351) and lefties (.292)
- His speed gives him the potential to maintain a higher than normal BABIP, but his .405 in 2012 is inflated
- It was unanimous prior to the season that plate discipline was the major question entering 2012. Baseball America said, “He still has plenty of work to do on the rest of his game, however. He’s a raw hitter with little power, and he needs to improve his bunting and plate discipline. At the Reds’ insistence, he has stuck with switch-hitting and ended up hitting better as a lefty (.721 OPS) than from his natural right side (.648 OPS) in 2011.” Meanwhile, according to mlb.com, “He’ll need to improve his plate discipline and get on base more, so he can use that speed to his advantage.” Thus far, he’s made tremendous strides.
- Has improved his eye at the plate, with a 13.1% walk rate in ’12 (8.5% in ’11)
- Has also improved his strikeout rate, currently at 16.2% (21.8% in ’11)
- If he can continue to improve his eye at the plate has the potential to be a scary stolen base threat (the more walks he draws and the less he strikes out, the more he’s going to be on base)
- Offers little-to-no home run power at this stage of his career, but can drive the ball as evidenced by his 14 doubles and 8 triples already in ‘12
- Prior to 2012 Baseball America ranked him as the Reds #2 prospect and mlb.com had him at #1
- Among the Top 100 prospects overall, Baseball America had him at #48 and mlb.com had him at #27
The number of stolen bases he’s already accumulated is absolutely amazing and the fact that he’s made strides with his eye at the plate gives him that much more potential upside. If he can continue on his current path he has the speed to be the best leadoff hitter since Henderson (he is unlikely to match the power numbers that Henderson was capable of).
He is obviously still extremely raw and at least another year and a half (and probably a little bit longer) from reaching the Major Leagues. There also are questions whether he’ll be able to stick at shortstop or if he is going to have to move off the position, possibly to second base or the outfield.
It doesn’t really matter, however. He has the potential to be a fantasy stud because he could single-handedly win you stolen bases. In this day and age, how many players can you realistically say have the ability to steal 100 bases in a season at any level? He may accomplish it by the All-Star Break this year.
Hamilton needs to be on all fantasy radars and should be a must own option the second he steps onto a Major League diamond.