If this is your Plan “C”, then you’re not doing too badly. According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Reds GM Walt Jocketty confirms that uber-speed prospect 23-year-old switch-hitting Billy Hamilton will the ballclub’s “Plan A” for opening day center fielder. The corollary that doesn’t even need to be said is that the Reds will put Hamilton in the lead off spot. Jocketty elaborated:
“We feel confident he can be a good leadoff hitter. He’ll give us great defense. The only question is how often he can get on base. He’ll start working on his bunting again after the first of the year. If he can master that, it will really help him.”
Billy Hamilton became somewhat of a legend in Cincinnati (and maybe catchers nightmares) when he stole 155 bases in High A and AA in 2012. Then he burst on the major league scene and stole 13 bases in 13 games, including four in the same game in which he collected his first hit against the woeful Houston Astros. He’ll certainly garnish interest in the fantasy baseball realm, as he can single-handedly win you the one stat of SB.
The Reds lost out on Shin-Soo Choo when he bolted for the Texas Rangers for a contract value the Reds couldn’t approach. There were also reports that they were interested in Yankees OF Brett Gardner and offered up their 3-time All-Star and 4-time Gold Glove (including 2013) 2B Brandon Phillips in return, but were turned down by the Pinstripes (who understand the value of depth after their injury-plagued 2013 campaign). Phillips is only 2 years older than Gardner.
The Reds proverbial “window” might be closing. They’ve reached the playoffs in 3 of the last 4 seasons but have no series wins to show for it. Playing in the tough NL Central (three 2013 playoff teams including the NL Champions) and with the upstart Pirates in the mix, they’re going to need Hamilton to get on base. But when he does, then the fun begins…for Reds fans, a nightmare for opposing catchers.
– David Whitlock
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