David Hamilton identified by MLB Pipeline as fastest prospect in Red Sox farm system

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)


Speedy Red Sox prospect David Hamilton named Eastern League Player of the Month for September

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton has been named the Eastern League Player of the Month for the month of September, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In 14 games for Double-A Portland, Hamilton batted .429 (24-for-56) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 runs driven in, 15 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, nine walks, and 14 strikeouts. The left-handed hitter led the Eastern League in batting average, hits, runs, stolen bases, and on-base percentage (.508). He also ranked fifth in slugging percentage (.643) and second in OPS (1.151), per MiLB.com.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, Hamilton slashed .251/.338/.402 (104 wRC+) to go along with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, a franchise high 70 stolen bases, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts over 119 games (531 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. His 81 runs scored and 70 stolen bases ranked tops among all Eastern League hitters this season.

Defensively, Hamilton saw the vast majority of his playing time this year come in the middle infield. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder out of the University of Texas logged 543 2/3 innings at second base and 460 1/3 innings at shortstop. But he also made two starts in center field, a position he had never played before in his professional career.

Speed is undoubtedly Hamilton’s top tool. According to FanGraphs, Hamilton possesses 60-grade speed on the 20-80 scale. His 9.4 Speed Score with the Sea Dogs this season ranked first among qualified Double-A hitters. Back in August, he was recognized by Eastern League Managers for being the fastest baserunner in the league. Less than a month later, the Red Sox named Hamilton their  Minor League Baserunner of the Year for 2022.

Hamilton, 25, was acquired from the Brewers alongside fellow prospect Alex Binelas in the December 2021 trade that saw Hunter Renfroe go to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. return to Boston. The Brewers originally selected the former Longhorn in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft.

It’s been an interesting journey for Hamilton since then. He missed the entirety of his junior season after slicing his Achilles tendon while riding an electric scooter in Austin. That raised questions about whether he would be able to regain his elite speed. But he has gone 122-for-139 in stolen base attempts since making his pro debut last May.

Because of his speed, Hamilton could soon play into the Red Sox’ future plans. Beginning next season, the bases across Major League Baseball will increase in size from 15 to 18 inches square. The league is hopeful that this change will encourage more teams to be more aggressive and steal more bases since the distance between the bases will be reduced by approximately 4.5 inches.

Hamilton, who played in the Arizona Fall League last year, already has experience when it comes to these stolen base. He told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith earlier this month that he does not think the size increase “plays that much into base stealing.”

“The bases aren’t too much bigger to make that big of a difference,” Hamilton said. “I guess close plays, it will make a difference. … I love it, stealing bases. For them to try to bring it back, it’s exciting for me.”

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom does envision Hamilton being a part of Boston’s future, the club has a fascinating decision to make regarding the speedster’s role moving forward.

Hamilton can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time later this winter. The Red Sox will have until November 20 to add him — and all other eligible minor-leaguers — to their 40-man roster. If left unprotected, Hamilton would become available to other teams during December’s Rule 5 Draft. His speed could make him an appealing target for rebuilding clubs in search of quickness off the bench.

If Hamilton remains in the Red Sox organization through the winter, he would likely receive an invite to major-league spring training and open the 2023 season with Triple-A Worcester.

(Picture of David Hamilton: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Speedy Red Sox prospect David Hamilton makes history with 65th stolen base of season for Double-A Portland

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton made history at Hadlock Field on Sunday afternoon.

In Double-A Portland’s 4-3 win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Hamilton went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, two runs scored, and one stolen base out of the leadoff spot.

After doubling in the first inning and belting a three-run home run in the fourth, Hamilton etched his name into the Sea Dogs’ record books in the bottom of the eighth. The speedy 24-year-old fittingly recorded his third hit of the contest by beating out a bunt single. He then took off for second and successfully stole his 65th base of the season without a throw.

By swiping 65 bags, Hamilton surpassed Julio Ramirez — who stole 64 in 1999 — for the most single-season stolen bases in Sea Dogs franchise history. His 65 stolen bases are also the most by a Red Sox minor-leaguer in a single season since Jeremy Hazelbaker stole 63 with the Greenville Drive in 2010.

To go along with all those stolen bases, the left-handed hitter is now batting .236/.327/.387 with 14 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 40 RBIs, 74 runs scored, 54 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 113 games (501 plate appearances) for Portland this season.

Defensively, Hamilton made his 60th start of the year on Sunday. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has logged 523 2/3 innings at second, 426 1/3 innings at shortstop, and 18 innings in center field for the first time in his professional career.

Hamilton, who turns 25 later this month, is not currently regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system. He was, however, recently identified by the publication as the fastest base stealer in the Eastern League.

SoxProspects.com, which lists Hamilton as its 49th-ranked Red Sox prospect, notes that he possesses “plus-to-better speed” and “solid baserunning instincts. FanGraphs grades Hamilton’s speed tool as a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

The Red Sox acquired Hamilton (as well as fellow prospect Alex Binelas and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.) from the Brewers in exchange for Hunter Renfroe last December. Milwaukee originally selected the former Longhorn in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin.

Even after missing the entirety of his junior season and first professional season while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, it appears as though Hamilton has regained the elite speed that makes him stand out on the field.

As the minor-league season winds down and Hamilton looks to add to his record, it is worth mentioning that the San Marcos native can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to prevent that from happening.

If he sticks with the organization through the off-season, one would have to think Hamilton will open the 2023 campaign with Triple-A Worcester. A lot can happen between now and then, though.

(Picture of David Hamilton courtesy of the Portland Sea Dogs)

Red Sox prospect David Hamilton identified by Baseball America as fastest baserunner in Eastern League

In a recent poll conducted by Baseball America, Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton was identified by his peers as the fastest baserunner in the Eastern League.

Coming into play on Wednesday, Hamilton has stolen 58 bases in 104 games with Double-A Portland this season. The left-handed-hitting speedster is also batting .225/.311/.369 with 12 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 46 walks, and 105 strikeouts over 459 trips to the plate.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters, Hamilton ranks first in triples, sixth in runs scored, first in stolen bases, first in speed score (8.5), and first in weighted stolen base runs (8.7), per FanGraphs. Not only are his 58 stolen bases the most in the Eastern League, they are also the most at the Double-A level and the eighth-most in all of Minor League Baseball.

With 58 swiped bags under his belt, Hamilton is now just six shy of passing Jeremy Hazelbaker — who stole 63 for Class-A Greenville in 2010 — for the most by a Red Sox minor-leaguer in a single season dating back to 2006.

On the other side of the ball, Hamilton utilizes his speed while playing both middle infield positions and a little bit of outfield for the first time in his professional career. As a member of the Sea Dogs, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has logged 477 2/3 innings at second base, 390 1/3 innings at shortstop, and 18 innings in center.

Hamilton, who turns 25 in less than a month, was originally selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin. The former Longhorn missed the entirety of his junior season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in a scooter accident. With the COVID-19 pandemic being cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not make his pro debut until last May.

In spite of the fact that he was coming off an Achilles injury that required surgery, Hamilton still managed to steal 52 bases in 101 games between High-A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi. He stole four more in the Arizona Fall League before being traded (alongside Jackie Bradley Jr. and fellow prospect Alex Binelas) to the Red Sox for outfielder Hunter Renfroe in early December.

The 24-year-old began the 2022 season as Baseball America’s 25th-ranked Red Sox prospect, but he has since been dropped from the publication’s top-30 list. SoxProspects.com lists Hamilton as its No. 49 prospect, noting that the native Texan possesses “plus-to-better speed” and “solid baserunning instincts.”

While those two traits stick out as his carrying tools, it remains to be seen how the rest of Hamilton’s skillset will develop as he continues to progress through the upper-minors. The Red Sox will have an important decision to make with Hamilton this fall, as he can become Rule 5 eligible for the first time if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline.

If protected, Hamilton will occupy a spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster while presumably spending the majority of the his age-25 season at Triple-A Worcester. If left unprotected, an opposing club could select Hamilton in this December’s Rule 5 Draft, though they would then need to carry him on their major-league roster for the entirety of the 2023 campaign. If those conditions could not be met, Hamilton would have to be offered back to the Red Sox.

(Picture of David Hamilton: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Who is Claudio Simon? Red Sox prospect has stolen 27 bases in 32 Dominican Summer League games: ‘There is no doubt that his speed is legit,’ Eddie Romero says

Red Sox infield prospect Claudio Simon stole his 27th base of the Dominican Summer League season on Tuesday afternoon.

Batting eighth and starting at third base for the Red Sox’ DSL Red affiliate, Simon went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored. His stolen base came in the sixth inning of an 8-1 win over the Royals’ DSL Stewart affiliate in El Toro.

Following Tuesday’s performance, the right-handed hitting Simon is now batting .219/.310/.281 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, 10 RBIs, 21 runs scored, 11 walks, and 35 strikeouts over 32 games (129 plate appearances) this season.

While those numbers might not seem all that impressive, Simon’s 27 stolen bases rank second in the Dominican Summer League behind only the Yankees’ Fidel Montero, who has swiped 28 bags. Coming into play on Tuesday, he ranked seventh in the DSL in speed score (9.3), per FanGraphs.

Simon, 20, originally signed with the Red Sox for just $5,000 as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic back in December. In his first professional season, the La Romana native has seen playing time at second base, third base, and all three outfield positions.

Outside of his listed height and weight of 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, there is not much information out there on Simon given his relatively low profile. With that being said, I recently reached out to Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero to ask about Simon and his propensity to steal bases.

“Simon’s speed is one of his best tools,” Romero told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email earlier this month. “It rates at least as a 7 (out of 8) on the scouting scale. He’s improving as a base stealer, reading pitchers, and getting better leads and jumps. However, there is no doubt that his speed is legit. He’s a tremendous athlete.”

Simon, who turns 21 in December, will presumably spend the rest of the season in the Dominican Summer League. If the speedster remains in the organization through the winter, it seems likely he will make the jump to the United States and the Florida Complex League in 2023.

(Picture of Claudio Simon via his Instagram)

On This Day in Red Sox History: Jacoby Ellsbury Steals Club Record Five Bases in Single Game

On this day in 2013, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases as part of a 9-2 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia, setting the franchise record for most swiped bags in a single game.

The record Ellsbury broke on that faithful Thursday had stood since Ellsbury himself stole four bases in a game against the Yankees in August 2010 to tie Jerry Remy’s single-game record from June 14th of the 1980 season.

Batting leadoff against the Phillies, Ellsbury, then 29 years old, got his historic night started in the top half of the second, when he reached base on a one-out walk against Jonathan Pettibone and proceeded to steal second with Dustin Pedroia at the plate.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Ellsbury was at it again, as the speedster singled with one out in the frame before swiping second once more while Pettibone was dealing with Daniel Nava.

In the sixth, the Oregon native perhaps took advantage of a rattled Jeremy Horst, who had just yielded a two-out solo shot to Jonny Gomes, and was awarded first base after getting plunked with a pitch.

Before Horst even had the chance to get too deep into his matchup with Nava, Ellsbury put his wheels on display yet again, stealing second and third base in a matter of minutes to tie the Red Sox’ single-game record for stolen bases.

And in the eighth, after reaching on a two-out line-drive single off of Phillies reliever Michael Stutes, Ellsbury etched his name into the record books by swiping second for his fifth and final stolen base of the evening. He also advanced to third on a fielding error.

By stealing those five bases, Ellsbury became the first major-leaguer to accomplish the feat since future Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford did the same as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in a game against Boston in 2009.

Heading into that contest against Philadelphia, Ellsbury’s OPS on the season stood at .691. From the beginning of June to end of the 2013 campaign, the speedy outfielder slashed .318/.367/.462 with 31 stolen bases to earn a top-15 finish in American League MVP voting.

As we all know, the 2013 season was also Ellsbury’s last with the Red Sox, as he inked a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees shortly after Boston took home their eighth World Series title that October.