Hamilton’s progress through system
On Monday afternoon, I had a story on Reds prospect Billy Hamilton and his feelings on the adjustment so far from shortstop to center field in the Arizona Fall League. Click here to read it.
One of the many questions that keeps popping up is why not promote Hamilton to the Majors right away for 2013 to be the leadoff hitter?
My response is rushing him could do more harm than help for his career. Leading off in Class A and only 50 games of Double-A against that level of pitching is far different than sending a 22-year-old to face Major League pitching. I don’t doubt that he will reach that level at some point, but it’s asking a lot to do it now. Add to the equation that he’s in the early stages of learning a new position.
Hamilton was the Reds’ 2nd round pick out of high school in 2009, so he’s had four full years on Minor League development. For comparison sake, here are other Reds position players who developed in the system:
Joey Votto was a 2nd round pick in 2002, and didn’t reach the Majors until Sept. 2007.
Drew Stubbs was a 1st round pick in 2006, was called up in August 2009.
Brandon Phillips was a 1st round pick by the Expos in 1999 and didn’t reach the Majors until being a September call-up by the Indians in 2002.
Devin Mesoraco was a 1st round pick in 2007 and made his debut in September, 2011. In his first full year in 2012, he struggled mightily at the plate.
Todd Frazier was a 1st round supplemental pick in 2007 and didn’t reach the Majors until 2011 and didn’t make a big impact until 2012.
Zack Cozart was a 2nd round pick in 2007 and reached the Majors in July 2011.
Jay Bruce was a 1st round in 2005 and was up relatively quicker than the others, by May 2008.
The majority of guys listed here spent 4-5 years in the Minors before getting that first promotion. Votto, especially, came to the Majors ready to hit rather than having to learn on the job. He improved from an adequate defense player to an excellent one by working hard while at the big league level.
I’m not saying Hamilton would definitely fail if he was rushed, but his odds of success would be better if the club waited and gave him the full time to develop. Most players need to experience failure in the Minors before reaching the Majors. It’s often a lot harder, and much more noticeable and noteworthy, when failure happens for the first time in the big leagues. Fans always want the next big prospect right now, but generally it’s been better when the organization has shown patience.