With the fantasy season winding down and the fantasy playoffs starting soon, we have come to the end of the Finder Keepers series. Before I do, as promised last week, I will give you one more potential keeper prospect. My number one rated offensive keeper prospect is the one and only, already legendary base stealer, Billy Hamilton. In this final installment I will give you a little information on him, his keeper potential and value, as well as talk a little about his rumored September call up.
Billy Hamilton was drafted in the second round of the 2009 major league baseball draft out of Taylorsville High School by the Cincinnati Reds. He was ranked as the 50th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season and became the 12th minor league player to have 100 stolen bases in a season with 103 SBs while hitting .278.
He then moved up to the 48th ranked prospect by Baseball America prior to this season before taking the baseball world by storm, catching everyone’s attention by breaking Vince Coleman’s 29 year old professional record of 145 stolen bases on August 21st.
By mid season, he had climbed the prospect ranks reaching #27 on Keith Law’s mid season prospect rank. His remarkable baseball stealing skills have made him one of the most talked about prospects in all of baseball this year. He is so fast on the base paths that he has been known to score on a sac fly from second.
He is currently at 150 SBs on the seaon as of this writing. He has been so dominate in the base stealing department this year that he leads the AA Southern League with 45 SBs in 42 games having only debuted in AA a little over a month ago on July 11th. He also still leads the High-A California league by 19 SBs and hasn’t played a game at High-A since July 7th. He is hitting .320 this year, a .042 point improvement from last year, and looks to have become a good switch hitter, which he has been working on since being drafted and hitting .311 from the left side this year, his weak side.
With this unheard-of-speed, there have been rumors of the Cincinnati Reds calling him up come September, when rosters expand, strictly for pinch running purposes. The manager of the Reds, Dusty Baker, seems very high on his future, stating recently, “I know the guy’s who records he broke, I know Vince Coleman. I know Donnel Nixon. That’s a tremendous feat. The amount of running you have to do. Your legs have to be in great shape. With sliding, your body takes a pounding. The fact that he’s been able to do that and stay healthy is remarkable.” “Someday, he’ll be here and be a tremendous force.” Lately it sounds like that day may be here sooner than some expected with Baker also stating, “It’s been discussed, It’s not my decision. You’ve got a lot to factor here. Once you put him on the roster, you’ve got to keep him on the roster. . . We’ve asked about him big time. But there’s more factors.” Couple that with GM Walt Jocketty’s comments recently, when he said, “We obviously are having very serious discussions about it, I don’t think he’s ready to play at this level but he certainly could run the bases.”, and I would not be surprised if we saw Hamilton causing havoc on the base paths in September as a pinch runner in the big leagues.
To put his feat into fantasy prospect Mike Trout is leading the majors with 41 stolen bases, Rajai Davis second with 39 and Michael Bourn third with 35. If an owner owned all three of these players he would still be 34 stolen bases behind Hamilton alone in the stolen base category this season. Theoretically speaking if Hamilton continues his dominance on the base paths in the majors he could single-handedly win you the stolen base category without a single stolen base from another player on your roster all year. This coupled with his good average, on base percentage and the prospect of him hitting lead off and getting a high number of at bats for your fantasy team. He is my number one rated offensive keeper prospect in my prospect keeper evaluations. While there is some concern that he may not stick at short stop long term, as the Red’s are currently have rookie Zack Cozart playing well at the short stop position. He will steal bases regardless of where he plays and the Reds will find an everyday spot for him as early as next year. While at the beginning of the year it seemed far fetched that Hamilton would debut this year it does not seem so now and while he will not play on an everyday basis and probably won’t start, if called up we will get a good look at his base stealing abilities. He may not break camp with the big league club at the beginning of next year. However I do foresee him getting the call at some point next season and becoming an everyday player. Hamilton is owned in %3 of ESPN leagues, 3% of Yahoo leagues and 26% of CBS leagues. Don’t be the one weeping, find him and keep him. I grade his keeper potential as an A+.
As the fantasy baseball season winds down and comes to a close I hope you have enjoyed both the Welcome to the bigs, kids series as well as Finders Keepers. In these series combined I have profiled eight potential keeper prospects and hope you will reference them the rest of the season in your search for the best available keeper prospects in your dynasty/keeper league.
Will you be picking up and keeping Billy Hamilton? Do you foresee a September call up and do you think he can keep up his remarkable base stealing feats at the major league level? Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ. Also, be sure to check out Blake Murphy’s Cincinnati Reds’ Farm System Report for more on Hamilton and other Reds’ prospects to keep an eye on.