Stolen base king to begin switch from shortstop in Fall League
Speedster Billy Hamilton, the Reds' top prospect, will begin the move from shortstop to the outfield in the Arizona Fall League.
MLB.com's No. 14 overall prospect will see time in center field and left field in the AFL, which begins next week, in preparation for a permanent switch next year.
"There are a lot of reasons," Bill Bavasi, Reds vice president of scouting and player development, told MLB.com. "We have [Zack] Cozart. We have Didi [Gregorius]. If you watch Hamilton's style of play, it's a pounding style of play. It would be an easier position for his body to take along with the base stealing. Everything seems to work better."
Hamilton stole 155 bases in 132 games between Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola this season. He broke Vince Coleman's single-season record of 145 steals, which had stood since 1983.
Selected in the second round of the 2009 Draft, the 21-year-old Mississippi native has never played a professional game in the outfield. Since playing second base in 2010 with Rookie-level Billings, he's been used exclusively at shortstop.
"Most of the year, he took a round of BP in center field – at both Bakersfield and Pensacola," Bavasi said. "We would just back everybody off so he could watch balls come off of the bat.
"He's not at the point yet where we have to make room for him. I can't really tell you where he's going to start next year, Double-A or Triple-A."
Hamilton was named California League MVP and "Best Hustler" by the Southern League. He also was named to the Cal League's mid- and postseason All-Star teams and played for Team USA at the All-Star Futures Game.
Across the two levels, Hamilton batted .311 with 112 runs scored and 45 RBIs. He also established career highs with 22 doubles, 14 triples and a .410 on-base percentage while leading both leagues in stolen bases.
Ashley Marshall wrote this article for MLB.com on Oct. 2. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.