Brewers Prospect David Hamilton Can Really Motor

David Hamilton didn’t raise his stock in his junior year at the University of Texas. He never got the opportunity. On the heels of a sophomore season that saw him put up a .404 OBP and pilfer 31 bases, the speedy shortstop suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a scooter accident. The date was January 11, 2019, the motorized scooter was a Lime, and the upshot was Hamilton lasting until the 253nd pick of that summer’s draft.

The 5-foot-11, 175 pound San Marcos, Texas native could end up being be an eighth-round steal. Finally getting his feet wet in organized ball, Hamilton is off to a pedestrian start with the bat — a .250/.324/.359 slash line in 71 plate appearances — but the tools are real. Especially the wheels. Hitting near the top of the order for Milwaukee’s High-A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Hamilton has legged out a pair of triples and is 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts.

The 23-year-old middle infielder aspires to swipe 50 bags this year, and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll do just that. Augmenting his plus speed — Hamilton shared that he’s run a 6.4 sixty and a 4.4 forty — is an experimental rule designed to reward jackrabbits.

“The pitchers [at High-A] have to step off the rubber now,” explained Hamilton, whom Baseball America ranks as the 16th-best prospect in the Brewers system (our own list is forthcoming). “We have a super fast team, so we’re definitely trying to steal as many bases as we can. Matty [manager Matt Erickson] wants us to steal. He encourages it. I have a green light all the time.”

Hamilton’s 10-for-11 success rate isn’t an anomaly. Playing for Roger Clemens-managed Team Texas in the independent Constellation Energy League last summer, he was a perfect 20-for-20. Moreover, the erstwhile Longhorn did more than just scoot. Hamilton came to the plate 100 times and slashed a healthy .296/.430/.370 in the constructed-for-the-pandemic circuit. He didn’t leave the yard, but that’s not his game.

“I’m a guy that gets on base, steals bases, and is a good defender,” is how Hamilton described himself. “I’m not a guy that’s going to put up 40 home runs in the big leagues. I’ll get them out every now and then, but I’m really just trying to put it in the gap. If I run into one, I run into one.”

And again, what he does best is run. The youngster attributes much of his base-stealing acumen to his father, David Hamilton Sr, who played at Texas State University and then in the Cincinnati Reds system in 1987 and ’88. The paternal lessons served him well, and inheriting athletic genes certainly didn’t hurt.

“I don’t have track-star speed, but I am quick at getting to my top-end speed,” expressed Hamilton. “I feel like stealing second is more about being quick and getting a good read off the pitcher. Stealing third is more about timing the pitcher and going off his looks, seeing something you can get a good jump off of. For instance, he might lean right before he picks up his leg.”

The University of Texas doesn’t offer a major in The Art of Base Stealing, but that didn’t deter Hamilton from bypassing a chance to sign with the Los Angeles Angels as a 28th-round pick out of high school. He originally hoped to be a Business major, but that didn’t mesh well with his baseball-program obligations.

“You needed a 3.7 GPA to get in — it’s a pretty good business school — and after my first semester I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen,’ admitted Hamilton. “I was going to do Economics after that, but I’d have to do Calculus and Calc Two, and I didn’t really want those during baseball season. I ended up going with Geography.”

The city of Appleton, where the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers play, is a little over 1,300 miles from where Hamilton grew up in San Marcos. Happenstance is a curious thing. Long before a scooter accident indirectly led him to the Brewers, and now to his current locale, David and Bessie Hamilton’s son wore a familiar uniform.

“When I was in Little League, I played for the Timber Rattlers,” Hamilton explained. “When I came here and saw our jerseys, with the logo, it brought back the memories. I had a baseball card with me playing [in Little League], so I had my mom send me a picture of it. It’s on Instagram.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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1 year ago

Hook Em!