Reds prospect Billy Hamilton–also known as the fastest man in baseball–is making his first career start tonight after spending the past two weeks coming off the bench.
Hamilton is playing center field and batting ninth against the Astros, with the Reds’ season-long center field, Shin-Soo Choo, shifting to left field.
Through his first two weeks in the majors Hamilton has five stolen bases compared to just three at-bats, but his tremendous range in the outfield could come in handy for the Reds and prior to struggling at Triple-A this season he’d shown quite a bit of promise offensively. And of course he swiped 75 bases in 123 games this year after breaking the all-time record with 155 steals in 132 games last year.
Here’s hoping the Astros hit a bunch of fly balls into the gaps and Hamilton finds a way to get on base. Should be fun to watch.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.