Found January 24, 2013 on
Fox Sports Ohio:
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Billy Hamilton is ready to show the major leagues that he can steal a base anywhere.
The Reds have invited the 22-year-old outfielder with freakish speed to spring training, giving him a chance to see firsthand what it's like to take off running with a major league pitcher and catcher trying to keep him from taking the next base.
Hamilton set a professional record with 155 steals last season, which he split between Single-A and Double-A. The Reds plan to start him at Triple-A Louisville this season, giving him time to develop his bunting and adapt to his new position in center field.
First, he'll get a chance to attend camp in Arizona as a non-roster invitee. He played in a few spring games last year, but will get a more regular test this time.
Can he steal off these guys?
"People say once you move up, it's going to be harder," Hamilton said Thursday, before boarding a bus as part of the team's annual winter caravan to nearby cities. "But my confidence takes me a long way, not just in baseball. I feel if I get there and have the same confidence, I'll be good. I'm looking forward to it, to seeing what the outcome is."
A lot of fans are aching to see what happens when he finally makes it to Cincinnati.
Reds fans were enticed by speed when lanky left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman started his career in the minors and hit 105 mph on radar guns with his fastball. He reached the big leagues in 2010 and hit 105 mph again.
The diminutive Hamilton seems to run as fast during the 90-foot dash from base to base -- only an optical illusion, of course. However, he has already received national attention for circling the bases in a mere 13.8 seconds during an inside-the-park homer in the minors -- the video quickly became a hit on YouTube.
At that speed, he compares favorably to some of the fastest players in the majors.
The Reds' challenge is getting him ready to run the bases in the big leagues. They've moved him from shortstop to center field -- youngster Zack Cozart has shortstop locked up for the foreseeable future. They traded center fielder Drew Stubbs to the Indians in the offseason and received 30-year-old outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who will play center and bat leadoff this season, his last under contract.
The way is clear for Hamilton to take over the spot either late this season or in 2014, depending upon how quickly he develops at Triple-A. The Reds sent him to the Arizona Fall League after last season to continue his progression.
"He's probably going to end up bunting a lot," general manager Walt Jocketty said on Thursday. "With his speed, we saw him get a lot of hits that way in the fall league. Bunting and running are his two key tools."
Hamilton's speed brought him a major career choice in high school at Taylorsville, Miss. He was offered a football scholarship to Mississippi State -- he played receiver and returned punts -- but decided to pursue baseball in part because his mother, Polly, thought it better suited his 6-foot-tall, 160-pound frame.
"It was a real tough decision," Hamilton said. "I sat down with my family. My mom didn't want me to get hit so much. She liked me taking the baseball route. I'm glad I took that route. It's working out good for me."
At first, he stole bases solely on his speed. Reds coaches, including former star center fielder Eric Davis, have been teaching him how to read pitchers' moves, which will come in handy as he moves up to higher skill levels.
"His main thing was: Don't be afraid," Hamilton said. "Always have that feel that you can't be thrown out. Always be aggressive."
Teams started pitching out when he reached base last season, but it didn't matter very much.
"They threw over (to first base) a lot," Hamilton said. "They pitched out a lot. It makes me mad, kind of, when I'm running and they pitch out. But it's their job. It's respect."
He got a lot of respect last year when he topped Vince Coleman's professional record of 145 steals in the minors during the 1983 season. Hamilton would switch his white batting gloves for gray sliding gloves as soon as he reached base, getting ready to take off.
Unlike Willie Mays Hayes, who would tack his gloves to the wall after each successful swipe in the movie "Major League," Hamilton kept no mementos from his record-setting season, which will be daunting to top.
"It's going to be tough to do," Hamilton said. "Just get out there and play my game and see where everything falls."
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Billy Hamilton is ready to show the major leagues that he can steal a base anywhere.
The Reds invited the 22-year-old outfielder to spring training, giving him a chance to see firsthand what it's like to take off running with a major league pitcher and catcher trying to keep him from taking the next base.
Hamilton set a professional record with 155 steals last season, which...
With some guys already in Arizona and preparing for the year, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at the 2012 Reds draft.
Rounds 1-5: Nick Travieso (RHP), Jesse Winker (OF), Jeff Gelalich (OF), Tanner Rahier (3B), Daniel Langfield (RHP), Jon Moscot (RHP) and Mason Felt (LHP).
The Good: Jesse Winker has one of the best debuts of any draft pick in recent memory after finishing...
Wrong kind of pepper
Is the offseason over yet? I'm ready for some baseball. It's been a while since I posted anything as I have been busy with a few other commitments but I've found some time today to put together what I hope will become a regular thing. Today it's called Playing Pepper. Next time it could be called something else. I'm still working that...
Veteran third baseman Scott Rolen still hasn’t decided if he’ll
return for the 2013 season or call it a career, but if he does elect to play
his first choice is to re-sign with the Cincinnati Reds, according to Jayson
Stark of ESPN.
Scott Rolen still hasn't made a final decision but has told people that if he plays, his 1st choice is to return to #Reds
by: Jon Davis
#19 Henry Rodriguez 2B
@HenryRod39 on Twitter
Here at No. 19 we find another non-drafted free agent signing out of Venezuela. In March of 2007, the Reds signed Henry Rodriguez, 5-foot-10, 170-pound switch hitting middle infielder. In 2010 and 2011, he combined to hit .312, with a .353 on base, 27 homers and 63 steals. In 2012 he took a small...
by: Dan Howard
A few notes from my geeky alter ego. Dictionary.com defines a parallel universe as; a theory that there is a mirror universe and when one makes a decision in this universe, an alternate 'you' in the other universe makes the opposite decision. Are we Reds fans living in a parallel universe? While you’re scratching your head preparing to...
From the first day he sat down behind his executive desk in Great American Ball Park in 2005, one of the many missions of Cincinnati Reds PresidentCEO Bob Castellini was to snag the All-Star Game for his team, his fans and his city.The All-Star game has not been in Cincinnati since 1988, at old Riverfront Stadium, and it never has been played at Great American Ball Park, which unlocked...
by: Jon Davis
#17 Jeff Gelalich OF
@jeffgelalich on Twitter
As we march towards Opening Day, we have gotten to No. 17 on our countdown, with Jeff Gelalich a 6-foot-1, 185-pound outfielder. Apparently, not as strange as I thought, and definitely more common, we have another "flip flopper" in Gelalich. He too is a left...
by: Jon Davis
#18 Tucker Barnhart C
@Tucker_Barnhart on Twitter
Here at No. 18 we find Tucker Barnhart, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound switch-hitting catcher. The Reds drafted him in the tenth round of the 2009 draft out of Brownsburg High School in Indiana. In 2011, playing for the Dayton Dragons, he hit .273 with a .344 on-base in 372 plate appearances. Then last...
The Redlegs were really, really good in the 1970s. Heck, they won 90 or more games in every year during the decade except two (1971, 1977). They won 95 or more games in six of those years, including 100 or more thrice. Oh, and they also won back-to-back World Series titles during the middle of that stretch.
Their dominance led to the "Big Red Machine" moniker, and rightfully...
The Cincinnati Reds will play host to the 2015 All-Star Game, commissioner Bud Selig announced Wednesday. Cincinnati has not had an All-Star Game since 1988, long before Great American Ball Park was built in 2003. It will be the city's fifth time as the host. The game was previously played in old Crosley Field in 1938 nd 1953 and in Riverfront Stadium in 1970 and 1988. The...
Is the 1998 New York Yankees club considered the best Major League Baseball team of all-time? I can't say for certainty, but ESPN's Buster Olney seems to think so. Amazingly, three Yankees clubs ranked in the top four of his "Top 10 Teams in MLB History" list.
However, Olney also ranked the 1975 Reds team as the 5th-best team in baseball history. Good choice...
Video from the 2012 Season
Bryson Smith came into the 2012 season as a rather unheralded prospect. He was drafted late (34th round) out of college where he was solid, but unspectacular. When he signed he went out and crushed the ball in limited time between Arizona and Billings to the tune of .368/.470/.611 over 115 plate appearances. Between the late round draft pick status and...