Sunday Notes: Red Sox Prospect David Hamilton is Fast as Lightning

I recently asked a pair of prospects which of their former teammates have the best wheels, and on each occasion a 24-year-old middle infielder in the Boston Red Sox system was on the short list. One had him numero uno. The other deemed the speedster in question as being a step behind his first choice.

Corbin Carroll, for sure,” was Ryne Nelson’s response to my question, the top pitching prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks system naming the organization’s top position player prospect. “That dude flies.”

While that answer was anything but unexpected, is Carroll truly faster than David Hamilton, whom Nelson played with in the Cape Cod League?

“I think so,” said the righty. “I’ve never seen them together, but I have watched Corbin get from home to third in what felt like three seconds. Hamilton is definitely up there, but it seems like Corbin is the fastest player I’ve ever seen in my life. He can really burn around the bases.”

So too can Hamilton, whom Kody Clemens played with at both the University of Texas and in the independent Constellation League during the 2020 shutdown. Prior to my conversation with Nelson, the Detroit Tigers prospect had told me that Hamilton is the swiftest he’s taken the field with.

“He’s pretty dang fast,” said Clemens. “In college, it was awesome playing with him up the middle; I think we led the Big 12 in turning double plays. I love that dude. And yeah, he’s fast as lightning. He had that little incident with his Achilles, but from what I’ve been seeing in the stats — all the bags he’s gotten — he hasn’t lost a step.”

Hamilton, who missed the 2019 collegiate season after rupturing an Achilles tendon, swiped 51 bases last year between High-A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi in the Milwaukee Brewers system. No. 15 on our recently-released Red Sox Top Prospects list, Hamilton was dealt to Boston in December along with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Alex Binelas in exchange for Hunter Renfroe.

The second-fastest guy Clemens has played alongside also incurred an injury. Unlike Hamilton, he is no longer playing professional baseball.

Brock Deatherage would be right up there with him,” Clemens, said of the 26-year-old former Detroit outfield prospect. “Brock retired last year, but when he was with us… man, that dude was fast. He was so fast that he tore his lower abdomen muscles that attached to his pelvic bone. He literally tore his muscles from running so fast. I’d put him second, behind David Hamilton.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Carlos Correa is 11 for 23 against Michael Pineda.

Kris Bryant is 10 for 24 against Michael Lorenzen.

Mike Yastrzemski is 9 for 10 against T.J. McFarland.

Chad Pinder is 8 for 10 against Cole Hamels.

Aaron Judge is 7 for 10 against Joe Biagini.

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Mick Abel is the top prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies system, and like many players of his generation, the 20-year-old right-hander enjoys playing video games. Not surprisingly, one of them mirrors the craft he’s working hard to perfect.

“I absolutely love playing MLB: The Show,” explained Abel. “One of my favorite things to do is go into the practice mode and just pitch. I’m doing it for fun, but it also benefits me in a sense. I’m seeing how different pitchers’ pitches tunnel off of each other. I’ll be throwing with Jacob deGrom and will go fastball/slider inside. Same thing with Zack Wheeler. And then, one of my absolute favorite pitchers to do that with is Trevor Hoffman. I’ll throw a four-seamer up-and-in to a righty, then I’ll drop one of those disgusting changeups below the zone. It’s fun to watch, especially when they whiff.”

Abel fanned 66 batters in 44-and-two-thirds innings last year at Low-A Clearwater. His repertoire includes both a slider and a changeup.

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Coby Mayo has light-tower power and a high ceiling. He also has a keep-it-simple approach to hitting a baseball. The 20-year-old outfielder — No. 6 on our Baltimore Orioles Top Prospect list — expressed as much in an early-March Zoom session with reporters. Prefacing my question by saying that I’d just spoken to a hitting coach about the value of an adaptable swing, and about how some hitters are trained to have one swing, I asked Mayo where he fits into that equation.

“I really don’t know,” responded Mayo, whom Baltimore drafted 103rd overall last summer out of Parkland, Florida’s Stoneman-Douglas High School. “I would just say that I don’t like to think about hitting too much — as in getting too complicated. I’ve always been a see-ball-hit-ball kind of guy. I think some guys can get in trouble looking at analytics, to a certain extent…. I don’t really look into different kinds of swings.”

Following up, I asked the young slugger if he sees himself as having just one swing, or if it varies depending on the pitcher and/or the situation.

“I would say I have one swing,” replied Mayo. ‘Obviously, each pitcher is different in which way their ball is moving, and you want to be aware of that. If you’ve got a guy throwing a lefty slider, you want to stay inside the ball. If he’s a righty with heavy slider, you have to adjust to that. But I’d say [the] swing is the same. You’ve just got to adjust to the pitcher.”

It will be interesting to see how much Mayo’s approach might evolve as he progresses within an organization that embraces analytics. Not that the Orioles would necessarily care if he keeps the same keep-it-simple mindset. In the end, what matters most is that he mashes baseballs.

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A quiz:

Who holds the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics franchise record for most hits?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

The Philadelphia Phillies have promoted FanGraphs alum Corrine Landry to Director, Baseball Operations. The Ithaca College alum — and proud Delaware native — joined the Phillies in November 2017.

The Cleveland Guardians have hired Neal Huntington as a special assistant. The general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2007-2019, Huntington previously spent a decade in the Cleveland organization, and before that, six years with the Montreal Expos.

Alex Avila and Cameron Maybin have joined MLB Network as studio analysts. Avila addressed his interest in one day joining the broadcast ranks when he appeared as a guest on FanGraphs Audio in January of last year.

The Triple-A Worcester Red Sox have hired Tyler Murray as their new lead broadcaster. The Boston College graduate replaces Josh Mauer, who is joining the Milwaukee Brewers radio team. Murray has spent the last six seasons with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Matt Sabados has been hired as the new radio play-by-play voice of the Bowie Baysox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. A graduate of Lindenwood University, Sabados was a broadcasting and communications assistant with the Erie SeaWolves last year.

Ralph Terry, a right-handed pitcher for four teams — most notably the New York Yankees — from 1956-1967, died earlier this week at age 86. The native of Big Cabin, Oklahoma had his best season in 1962 when he went 23-12 with a 3.19 ERA, then went on to be named MVP of the World Series after hurling a Game 7 shutout — a contest that ended 1-0 when San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey hit a bullet into the glove of second baseman Bobby Richardson with a pair of runners in scoring position. Two years earlier, Terry had surrendered Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, a 10-9 Pittsburgh Pirates over the pinstripers.

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The answer to the quiz is Bert Campaneris. “Campy” logged 1,882 hits while wearing an A’s uniform from 1964-1976.

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Matt Olson is now a Brave, Atlanta having acquired the power-hitting first baseman from the Oakland A’s in exchange for four prospects this past Monday. Freddie Freeman, who’d held down the position in Atlanta for 11 seasons, is now a Dodger, having signed a lucrative free-agent deal with Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Which is the better player of the two? I asked that question in a Twitter poll on Tuesday, and the erstwhile Brave won by a wide margin. Freeman received 64.9% of the vote, while Olson garnered just 35.1%.

Is Freeman — a five-time All-Star and former NL MVP — truly better than his replacement in Atlanta? Here are last year’s numbers:

Freeman: 31 HR, .379 wOBA, 135 wRC+, 4.5 WAR.
Olson: 39 HR, .379 wOBA, 146 wRC+, 5.0 WAR.

Here are those numbers over the past three seasons:

Freeman: 82 HR, .395 wOBA, 144 wRC+, 11.8 WAR.
Olson: 89 HR, .364 wOBA, 134 wRC+, 9.7 WAR.

Freeman has the edge if you go by the three-season snapshot, but it’s worth noting that he is 32 years old and will turn 33 in September. Olson, who was better in 2021, is 27 years old and will turn 28 later this month. Freeman hasn’t shown signs of slowing down — he’s still an impact player — Olson nonetheless has more prime years in front of him. As disappointing as it was to lose a franchise icon, Braves fans have a lot to forward to with their new first baseman. Olson is a stud.

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The Atlantic League — long a highly-respected independent league, and now an MLB partner league (i.e. guinea-pig league) — will reportedly experiment with a new rule this season. Per a press release, “Batters will be able to advance to first base on any pitch that is not caught in the air by the catcher, even with first base occupied by a runner. Those who get to first base safely will be awarded a hit.”

The extra-innings ghost runner remains the worst rule ever introduced to professional baseball, but this ranks as a close second. Especially abhorrent is that a batter can be awarded a base hit because a pitcher threw a ball to the backstop. Excuse me? One can only imagine that the idea was initially proposed as a joke, and then, inexplicably, taken seriously. The degree to which the Atlantic League can be taken seriously is increasingly in question.

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Meanwhile, Minor League Baseball announced this week that its 11 leagues will be returning to their historical names. The Triple-A East will once again be known as the International League, the High-A Central will again be the Midwest League, etc. Part of the controversial, and arguably ill-advised, restructuring of the minor leagues that took place following the 2020 COVID non-season, the soulless name changes now being reversed were anything but popular. Good on the powers-that-be for rectifying their error.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

Dartmouth students Devan Fink, Luca Caviezel, and Addison Dick teamed up to study the effect of MLB’s extra-inning ghost runner rule on the outcome and duration of games.

Beyond The Boxscore’s Estevão Maximo wrote about how the Miami Marlins have building blocks, but need to invest in their offense.

Red Reporter’s Wick Terrell thinks it is time for Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini to sell the team he seemingly can’t afford.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold wrote about the long-term health and triple-digits fastball of Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks.

Orioles right-hander Dillon Tate has upped his velocity while improving his biomechanics. Anthony Brady broke down that process at Driveline’s blog.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Isiah Kiner-Falefa had 136 singles last year, the most in the majors. He had 172 hits in all. Marcus Semien had 173 hits, 87 of which were singles.

Mike Trout leads all players with 967 runs scored since the beginning of his 2011 rookie season. Freddie Freeman has 966 runs scored since the start of the 2011 season.

J.D. Martinez has 242 home runs and a 143 wRC+ since being released by the Houston Astros in March 2014.

Anthony Rizzo has 251 home runs, 814 RBIs, and 40 sacrifice flies.
Tony Clark had 251 home runs, 824 RBIs, and 40 sacrifice flies.

Joey Votto has reached base 3,385 times and has 3,497 total bases.
Vada Pinson reached base 3,385 times and had 4,264 total bases.

Preacher Roe went 44-8 with a 3.42 ERA with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1951-1953. Ken Raffensberger went 40-44 with a 3.33 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds over those same three seasons.

The Detroit Tigers signed Fernando Valenzuela to a free agent contract on today’s date in 1992. The southpaw subsequently had his contract sold to the Mexican Pacific League’s Charros de Jalisco, then returned to MLB in 1993 with the Baltimore Orioles. He never pitched for the Tigers.

Players born on today’s date include Mellie Wolfgang, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1914-1918. A right-hander, Wolfgang logged a 1.92 ERA over 300 innings in his first three seasons, and a 5.19 ERA in limited action his final two.

Also born on today’s date was Chuck Seelbach, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1971-1974. A right-handed reliever drafted out of Dartmouth College, Seelbach made 61 of his 75 career appearances in 1972, earning nine wins and 14 saves with a 2.89 ERA.

Hack Miller came to the plate 500 times and batted .352 for the Chicago Cubs in his 1922 rookie season. A left-handed-hitting outfielder who slashed .323/.361/.490 over 349 big league games, Miller was the son of circus performer “Sebastian the Strong Man” and was himself known for performing feats of strength. Per his SABR BioProject entry, Miller “entertained teammates by using his bare hand to pound tenpenny nails through two-inch planks of wood and taking the same-size nails and bending them with his fingers.”





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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Daniel Greenmember
3 months ago

Votto needs to start hitting for some power 🙂

Stock
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Green

Votto has shown much more power than Pinson ever did in his career. This post is just misleading.