Cincinnati Reds: Choo Deal Means Reds Are All-in on Billy Hamilton

Tyler Duma@@TylerDuma_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

PENSACOLA, FL - AUGUST 21:  Billy Hamilton #4 of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos checks with the umpire after slideing safely into third base against the Montgomery Biscuits at Community Maritime Park Stadium on August 21, 2012 in Pensacola,  Florida. Billy Hamilton broke the minor league record with 146 stolen bases.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Michael Chang/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds snagged Shin Soo Choo on Wednesday in a three-team deal. In exchange for Choo, the Reds sent Didi Gregorius to Arizona and Drew Stubbs to Cleveland.

The Reds will presumably start Choo in center field in 2013.

However, Choo's contract runs out following the 2013 season, and the only other viable outfielder on the Reds' roster is Chris Heisey. Heisey has been given chances, but it's clear that he's not cut out to be an everyday player.

This means that the Reds have one realistic option in the system right now for 2014: Billy Hamilton.

Hamilton began his transition to the outfield this year in the Arizona Fall League and had some success. 

According to Baseball America, Hamilton began this transition through regular work in the outfield during practices and before games. 

Hamilton has speed grade of 80 on the scouts' 20-to-80-point speed scale, and that speed is what will help him transition smoothly into the outfield. It may take time for him to adjust to reading fly balls, but his speed will surely make up for any difficulties that he has in the outfield moving forward.

According to an article on the move to the outfield, Bill Bavasi, the Reds VP of scouting and player development said:

If you watch Hamilton's style of play, it's a pounding style of play. It would be an easier position for his body to take along with the base stealing. Everything seems to work better.

On the subject of which level Hamilton would play at in 2013, Bavasi later went on to say:

I can't really tell you where he's going to start next year -- Double-A or Triple-A.

With the acquisition of Choo, you can rule out a 2013 Opening Day debut for Hamilton. However, a September call-up is still a very real possibility, especially if Hamilton begins the year at Triple-A Louisville as the team's starting center fielder. 

Over the last three seasons, Hamilton has improved his offensive game.

The 22-year-old outfielder slashed .291/.377/.403 with 306 steals on 372 attempts over 336 games between the Rookie League, Single-A Dayton, High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.

There seems to be no doubt that Hamilton will be ready for Cincinnati in 2014, but this move for Choo seems to solidify Hamilton as the likely Opening Day center fielder for the Cincinnati Reds in the future.