GOODYEAR, Ariz. - While Cincinnati Reds top prospect Billy Hamilton has a slim shot of making the team at the major league level this season, he still got the buzz going in a Reds uniform at Spring Training in Goodyear, Arizona.
Hamilton is coming off a full year in the minors in which he set the record for most stolen bases in a season with 155.
He looked rusty at times at the plate during Spring Training, but his quick feet are the real deal.
Hamilton told 9 On Your Side that he's a game changer.
"The stuff I do... I'm not afraid of making mistakes, I'm not afraid, I just do stuff to change the game all around," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said it's the little things he can do that sets him apart.
"I'll tag off on a [fly ball] to the infield," Hamilton said. "I'm not afraid of taking the chance to [do those kinds of things]."
Hamilton is also a switch-hitter, something he said happened mostly by accident.
Hamilton said he was messing around one day in the batting cage and after getting his normal work in right-handed, he switched to the left side of the plate and started hitting off the tee.
"My hitting coach [asked] 'you hit left-handed'?" Hamilton said, and he was a switch-hitter the very next day.
If Hamilton were to play at all for the Reds in 2013, he'll likely find a spot in the outfield, where he has just started to get some work in the minors after playing shortstop most of his career.
The Reds think he could be a daring, dangerous dazzler in center field. Hamilton could be the kind of player Cincinnati hasn't seen since Eric Davis. Davis agrees, and says he can fit that role well.
"One, he loves to play and two, you don't have to tell him things two or three times," Davis said.
But Davis cautions that experience is key.
"I'd rather see him come too late than too soon," Davis said.
Either way, Hamilton is expected to be the Reds' future lead-off hitter some time in the next few years, and can be a Plan B should the team see a lot of injuries, but while they don't need him, that experience at the minor league level will be instrumental in making sure Hamilton doesn't become Drew Stubbs 2.0. For more on whether or not Hamilton would be a good fit for the Reds, go to http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/sports/baseball/reds/will-billy-hamilton-be-a-good-fit-for-the-reds .
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