Infielder David Hamilton has unsurprisingly been identified by MLB Pipeline as the fastest prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system heading into the 2023 season.
Hamilton, 25, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 29 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally acquired the speedster from the Brewers with infield prospect Alex Binelas and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the December 2021 trade that sent outfielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee.
After receiving his first invite to big-league spring training last year, Hamilton spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with Double-A Portland. To go along with a franchise-record 70 stolen bases, the left-handed hitter batted .251/.338/.402 with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts in 119 games (531 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.
Hamilton ended his season on a strong note by posting a 1.029 OPS in the month of September. Shortly after being named the 2022 Red Sox Minor League Baserunner of the Year, the Texas product was somewhat surprisingly added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
With bigger bases, pitch clocks, shift restrictions, and pickoff limits on the horizon, the Red Sox prioritized speed and elected to protect Hamilton as opposed to one of their talented pitching prospects (such as Thad Ward, A.J. Politi, and Noah Song), who were later scooped up by the Nationals, Orioles, and Phillies, respectively.
Hamilton was in major-league camp again this spring and went 7-for-24 (.292) with one double, four RBIs, three runs scored, five stolen bases, three walks, and nine strikeouts in 13 Grapefruit League games before being optioned to Triple-A Worcester on March 13.
Right around that same time, Hamilton sat down for a one-on-one interview with MLB.com’s Ian Browne in which he discussed his speed, the new rules coming to Major League Baseball, and what he wants to improve on, among other things.
When asked if the size of the bases increasing is a good thing for players such as himself, Hamilton said: “The bases by themselves, no. But I think the pitch clock, the disengagements, the bases, all that plays into it.”
When asked about what type of things he is working on to maximize his offensive potential, Hamilton said: “I’m just trying to hit more line drives, trying to stay inside the ball a little bit more and put the ball in play. I’m a fast guy, so I put pressure on the defense as soon as I’m on base.”
As a follow-up to that question, Hamilton was also asked about what a good season would look like for him this year.
“If I can just hit line drives, put more pressure on the defense, play good defense, take away runs and score runs,” said Hamilton, “that’s my game right there.”
Speaking of defense, Hamilton saw playing time at three different positions with the Sea Dogs last year. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder logged 543 2/3 innings at second base, 460 1/3 innings at shortstop, and 18 innings in center field for the first time in his professional career.
“I’ve always played short growing up, so I’m comfortable there,” Hamilton told Browne when asked about his versatility. “I like second [base]. I’ve played center. Wherever they put me, I can play.”
Hamilton, who does not turn 26 until September, is expected to open the 2023 season with the WooSox. Given the fact that he possesses 70-grade speed (using the 20-80 scouting scale) and is already on the 40-man roster, he is in position to make his major-league debut, potentially as a speed threat off the bench, at some point this year.
(Picture of David Hamilton: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)