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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Billy Hamilton Represents The Future For The Reds

The Reds'  concern for the immediate future is the division title chase.

Still the team saved a bench seat for a prospect that is expected to play a huge part of the Reds' future.

Billy Hamilton, the 22-year old speedster from Taylorsville, Mississippi, was called up by the Reds for the September run.

Rosters are allowed to expand to up to 40 for the last month of the season, when the minor league season ends.

Hamilton set a professional record with 155 stolen bases last season with Single-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.

Hamilton not only got his first taste of Triple-A in Louisville this year but was asked to switch-hit for the first time and, oh by the way, move from shortstop to centerfield.

The Reds' second pick in the June 2009 draft was excited to join the big club.

"They hinted around here and there," Hamilton said.  "They just told me to stay ready."

In order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Hamilton, Pedro Villarreal was designated for assignment and cleared waivers.  Villarreal was then assigned outright to Louisville.

Hamilton, who hit .256 in 123 games at Louisville with 18 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 75 stolen bases.  His 75 steals led the International League.  He also drove in 41 runs while scoring 75 runs, third in the league in spite of a .308 on-base percentage.

Hamilton got off to a slow start at the plate but picked up the pace in the second half.

"The first half, I put a lot of pressure on myself," Hamilton said. "I wasn't playing my game. I was going out there thinking too much, trying to play too hard. I knew once I started relaxing and playing my game, it would come to me. After the first half, I got home talked to my mom, she was like, 'Just relax, be yourself, play your game.' After that, it started going good."

Moving from shortstop to centerfield was a challenge too.

"I feel real comfortable now.  I adjusted to it quick. I learned a long about angles," Hamilton said.  "The throw is longer too.  It made me get on top of the throw a lot more. I had some shoulder problems in the past.  The throw is better for me."

Hamilton will play sparingly.  Dusty Baker wants him to learn by observation but still be ready to contribute.

"It is not like Billy is a stranger," Baker said..  "We know him.  I just talked to him. He knows to do whatever is asked, whenever he's called on.  Stay ready.  I want him to sit there and learn and not bs'ing.  I was a September call up at 19, 20 and 21.  I didn't play much but I learned a lot."

Bake has been where Hamilton is now.

"Shortly after that it didn't feel foreign to me.  Billy is not the focal point here.  The focal point is us to win the division and hopefully on to the World Series.  We hope that he can help us in some small or large way.  The same goes with Henry Rodriguez and Soto."

"These guys are going for their goals.  They'd been there all year.  Who was I going to play in front of, Hank Aaron, Rico Carty?  Everybody says play young, play young but what to I do with the guys that have been there all year.  They have bubblegum cards too.  They have certain things they are trying to get accomplished too."

"A lot of times you can get fooled in September.  You can get a pretty good idea but you can be fooled because nobody knows them.  Nobody has figured their weakness out."

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