It would be foolish of me to say that the Cincinnati Reds rising star and number one outfielder in the minor leagues, Billy Hamilton, isn’t going to have a great career. It would be even sillier of me to say that Hamilton will never make it to the big leagues at some point, if not this year then next or the year after.
But this is something that irks me. With all the questioning of why the Reds went out and got Shin-Soo Choo when they have Hamilton, there are some things that I don’t think Reds’ fans quite understand yet. Hamilton can steal a base, or two, or as many as he wants till his heart is content, but he is struggling to get on base to even attempt to steal one.
In his first 18 at-bats in spring training, Hamilton has two hits. Two. The overall numbers are two hits in 20 plate appearances, with two walks and eight strikeouts. That equals out to be a batting average of .111 and an on-base percentage of .200. Now, I’m not a mathematician, but those numbers don’t seem very good–especially for someone who is supposed to be the next leadoff hitter in a year.
Look, I know it’s spring training and stats don’t mean much and wins and losses don’t mean much blah, blah, blah. I get that. But it’s still MLB pitching that Hamilton is facing and he has yet to perform at all. I understand Reds’ fans are very eager to see Hamilton in the big leagues so he can slap a base hit and steal as many bases as he can–but he’s got to hit the ball or put the ball in play or even just draw a walk in order for that to happen.
Hamilton is only 21 years old. There is still a lot of time left for Hamilton to develop into a much more polished, leadoff hitter. If the Reds and Reds’ fans alike want to see the true potential of Hamilton and not have him flame out like Drew Stubbs did, they need to be patient with him. I’d say he has at least another year, if not two years of minor league ball in him to allow him to develop and eventually become one of the best lead off hitters in the game.
Follow Brad Stiene on Twitter @bs_rant1