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Minor Matters: Billy Hamilton Adjusting Well to Double-A

July 23, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Billy Hamilton has been burning up the basepaths for the Cincinnati Reds organization.
The sight of Billy Hamilton (right) sliding safely into second is a common one.

A couple of months ago in our Podcast, we discussed Billy Hamilton’s stolen base rampage at High-A.

Well, the shortstop got to 104 steals in 82 games (with 79 runs, 50 walks and a .323 BA) before the Reds finally figured out he was ready for Double-A, promoting him to the Southern League a couple of weeks ago.

Clearly, Hamilton was ready for this move. He had three hits Sunday, including a double, and scored the game’s only run from first base as Pensacola edged Mobile 1-0.

Hamilton is now batting .333 through his first 11 games at Double-A. He’s swiped another eight bases and has drawn more walks than he has strikeouts, showing an improved batting eye at the higher level.

For the season, he’s batting a combined .324 with an 865 OPS and a ridiculous 112 steals in 93 games. Vince Coleman had the greatest single season stolen base show in the minors, swiping bags 145 in 1983, a mark very much in jeopardy this year.

As a keeper league prospect, Hamilton has plenty of owners frothing at the mouth as they ponder how that stolen base total will translate into the bigs – especially at a premium defensive position.

The fact is, he won’t be swiping 100 bags against MLB pitchers who are better at keeping runners closer and MLB catchers, who are better at gunning ‘em down.

He isn’t likely to get on base as much at higher levels either.

The other big consideration is that Hamilton isn’t expected to stick at shortstop as he moves up the latter. An outfielder that can potentially hit .300 with 75 steals still sounds pretty exciting, but obviously isn’t nearly as valuable as a shortstop who can.

All of this makes me wonder why the Hamilton owner in my keeper league refuses to even discuss the speedster (not that I’ve tried; he’s volunteered this information – that everyone is available except Hamilton). Wouldn’t he be wiser to get as much as he could for him now before a move to the outfield reduces his perceived value?

Farm Seedlings

  • Graham Godfrey has bounced between Triple-A and the A’s a couple of times this season, but he has not be able to take the next step in either place. After dominating the PCL last year (14-3, 2.68), Godfrey hasn’t been as effective this year, yet he still leads the league with a 3.29 ERA and has a fine 9-1 mark, just suffering his first loss of the year Saturday. He’s also improved his walk rate at Triple-A. However, in the four starts (and five total appearances) Godfrey got in Oakland, his command was awful and the results bore that out. This dude wasn’t bad in a similarly tenured look last year, so what’s the dealio? Godfrey turns 28 next month, so he’s no longer a prospect, but that doesn’t mean there’s no upside at all.
  • Just over a year ago we were unimpressed with the performance of Bruce Billings, part of the booty the A’s received from the Rockies when they traded Mark Ellis. Well, Billings – converted back into a full-time starter this year – has fared much better at Triple-A in his second go-round. He’s massively reduced his hit rate and has maintained his strikeout rate despite the fact that he’s starting full-time this season. Take away a rough patch at the end of June/beginning of July and Billings has been superb, making us wonder if the 26-year-old righty is going to get a look in Oakland at some point in the second half.
  • Remember Yusmeiro Petit? The one-time Diamondback starter hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009 and the last time he popped up on the Fantasy radar was prior to the 2010 season when Seattle signed him and he looked like a candidate for the Mariners rotation. Well, he’s slipped further into obscurity since then. He had a decent year as a swingman at Triple-A in 2010 and pitched well in limited innings as a starter in the Mexican League last year. This year, the 27-year-old righty landed in the pitching-rich Giant organization and he’s hurled the ball well enough to deserve another crack at the majors. Through 20 starts, Petit has gone 4-3 with a 3.37 ERA – third in the PCL. He’s striking out almost a batter per inning with good control. As you can see from his record, Petit is the king of no-decisions this year, but with one PCL Pitcher of the Week honour under his belt this year plus some stellar peripherals, you wonder if he’s ready for another shot in the bigs.

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