Billy Hamilton Begins Season on a Tear for Bakersfield

Billy Hamilton, 21, has begun the 2012 season in the Cincinnati Reds farm system on an absolute tear. 

Playing for the High A level California League Bakersfield Blaze, the switch-hitting shortstop has put together quite a month of April.  During that month, Billy Hamilton had a batting average of .398 making him the leader in all of the Cincinnati Reds’ organization.  However, it was his work on the base path that really caught the attention of the big club.  He was able to steal 29 bases in only 23 games of work.  For this feat, he was named the Minor League Player of the Month for the month of April in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization.  Hamilton shared the award with fellow Blaze player, Tony Cingrani, as Minor League Pitcher of the Month.  I wrote about Cingrani last week. 

Fortunately, Billy Hamilton is not a one trick pony.  He also lead the California league in on base percentage (.481), triples (4) and runs scored (21) during April.

This is Hamilton’s fourth year in the Reds’ system.  He was a second round pick out of Taylorsville High School, Taylorsville, Mississippi in 2009. 

Baseball America has ranked Billy Hamilton the number two prospect in the Reds’ organization.  Unfortunately for Hamilton is he plays shortstop for the Reds.  That is a position already claimed by Zack Cozart with the big club.  With the way that Cozart has been playing this year, barring injury, it is doubtful that the Reds will have a spot for him in the everyday lineup.  He may be brought up as a solid back up or utility infielder, but starting position seems unlikely.

That is a bridge that is a couple of years away from being crossed.  I want to see what Billy Hamilton can do at the AA and AAA level.  He is a long way from putting pressure on Cozart.  But, remember, competition is always a good thing and it sure is fun to watch what he’s done so far.

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