The Cincinnati Reds have a player at the minor league level that could change MLB for a long time in Billy Hamilton. Hamilton stole 155 bases last season in just 132 games at the Single-A and Double-A levels combined, and the team has Hamilton in big league camp this spring.
Hamilton is being converted from a shortstop to a center fielder and the Reds are going to be forced to make a decision before the end of the 2013 season. I think the best choice of action here would be leaving Hamilton at Triple-A for this season and then going with him full-time in center field for the 2014 campaign.
Hamilton is going to need a full season of playing center field to get the position down after being in the infield to start his career. If Hamilton can show he can handle center field this season in the minor leagues, the Reds should have Hamilton leading off in center field for the 2014 opener. This would beg the question of what to do about Shin-Soo Choo, who is supposed to play center field this season for the Reds.
Cincinnati is going to be depending on Ryan Ludwick this season in left field, and they should do that while Hamilton is learning a new position but next season, Ludwick needs to be either traded with one year left on his contract then or be put into a platoon role which would move Choo to left field. Hamilton has too much potential to be left down in the minor leagues for much longer. Cincinnati won’t be forced to push the issue this season either, so give Hamilton a full year in center field and then let him loose in 2014.