This week, we begin with a recommendation: If you're involved in a dynasty-style fantasy league that uses stolen bases as a category (as most do), then someone needs to own Reds shortstop prospect Billy Hamilton. He's available nearly everywhere.
I'll give you a minute to go check your league's free agent pool, then decide on the appropriate drop. Please get to it. Shoo.
While you're away, the rest of us are going to watch a video...
And if you need to spend an extra moment on this transaction, fine. Adding and dropping can be tricky business. I've got more videos.
Finished? Great. Now I'll give you the essential 2012 stats for Hamilton, through 26 games at Single-A Bakersfield: 39 H in 102 AB, 25 R, 14 BB, 18 K, 31 SB, .382/.458/.559.
And that stolen base total is no misprint. So far this season, Hamilton has swiped 31 bags in 38 attempts. He stole 103 bags last year in the Midwest League, at an 83.7 percent success rate. Dude is fast.
How fast? Well, for a few additional facts on Hamilton's ridiculous speed, check out this short piece from Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus, published April 30. These two details might be my favorites:
Billy Hamilton has reached on eight infield singles. He has been thrown out by infielders 14 times. When Billy Hamilton hits the ball on the ground to an infielder, and the infielder fields the ball cleanly, Billy Hamilton is hitting .364.
Billy Hamilton scored the walk-off run on April 20 on a sacrifice fly. To the second baseman.
So yeah, Hamilton is insanely fast — too fast and too talented for his level, it seems. He currently leads the California League in runs, hits, triples, steals (by a mile), batting average and on-base percentage. In all likelihood, he'll get a bump in level soon. A reasonable expectation for the 21-year-old Hamilton, I'd guess, is to advance to Triple-A by season's end. He might just be ready to compete for the lead-off spot in Cincinnati at some point in 2013.
It's not yet clear that he'll be able to stick at shortstop — he's committed eight errors this season, following a 39-error campaign in 2011 — but his combination of speed on on-base skills will play at any position, fantasy-wise. Dynasty gamers, you are advised to get him. I can't continue writing about Hamilton each week, so let's all please work together to boost his ownership percentage.
This week, just for the dynasty crowd, Farm Report will focus on a few players who are off to big starts at Single-A. You shouldn't expect to see any of these prospects in the bigs anytime soon, but you'll want to file away the names...
• Baltimore prospect Dylan Bundy has thrown 17.0 innings so far this season and he's allowed just one hit. One. A harmless single. Bundy hasn't yet allowed a run, he's walked only two batters, and he's whiffed 25. No player at any level of professional baseball, with the possible exception of Matt Kemp, is dominating the competition quite like Bundy. It's unfair. He'll have to be promoted soon, just so he can be challenged.
The 19-year-old Bundy is a (very) hard-thrower, with an arsenal that includes a curve, change and cutter. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. His innings will reportedly be capped around 125 this season, so his string of three and four-inning starts will continue for a little while. This is a kid who needs to be rostered in dynasty formats, even though he'll likely offer no help this season.
• Yankees prospect Tyler Austin leads the South Atlantic League in homers (9) and OPS (1.236), while hitting .348. You'll find a nice look at his opening month right here, for those interested. The 20-year-old Austin fell to the 13th round in the 2010 draft, so you have to tip your cap to the Yanks for finding a legit player at a decent price.
• The Diamondbacks really have a lot of young pitching talent, it seems, at all levels. Left-hander Andrew Chafin has struck out 45 batters in just 27.2 innings at Visalia, walking six. How is that fair? It isn't. Chafin has fanned at least nine batters in four of his five starts. Just silly. John Sickels ranked Chafin as the No. 4 prospect in a solid system entering the season, and the 21-year-old has certainly justified the hype.
• Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole are presently teammates in Bradenton, and they each rank among the Florida State League leaders in WHIP and Ks. Taillon has had a better season thus far (1.46 ERA, 0.77 WHIP), but Cole was terrific in his last start, allowing just one hit over six frames. Both Bucs prospects have top-of-rotation potential — and this collection of Pittsburgh starting pitchers shouldn't be too tough to crack.
• One more Pirates prospect for you: Alen Hanson is hitting .402 in the South Atlantic League, with an OPS of 1.111. Twenty of his 47 hits have gone for extra bases, he's swiped 10 bags, and he's scored 29 runs. Baseball America just wrote that "Hanson looks like the early breakout story of the 2012 season," and it's tough to argue with that assessment.
• Beloit's Miguel Sano won't turn 19 until next week, but he's already tearing up the Midwest League. Sano is hitting .293/.430/.598 with six homers. There aren't a whole lot of reasons for Twins fans to be excited this year, but at least there's talent in the system.
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