Fastest man in baseball Billy Hamilton has spent his four-year pro career as a shortstop, but reviews of his defense there have always been mixed and the Reds have decided the 21-year-old prospect’s amazing speed can be more of an asset in center field.
Hamilton will officially start his transition from shortstop to center field while playing in the Arizona Fall League and then will begin next season as a full-time outfielder, most likely at Double-A or Triple-A.
Hamilton set the all-time minor league record by stealing 155 bases in 132 games between high Single-A and Double-A, and did so while also hitting .311 with a .410 on-base percentage. His speed gets all the headlines, but Hamilton is a legitimate top-50 prospect and by switching positions he could be an option to replace Drew Stubbs as the Reds’ starting center fielder at some point next year.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.