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Big League Stew

Reds speedster Billy Hamilton lives the fast life

Big League Stew

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(Getty Images)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — There's Billy Hamilton, the guy who stole 155 bases in 2012 between Single-A and Double-A. No, wait. Now he's gone.

Oh, there he is. Over there. Nope. Gone again. That him sitting over there? Well, it was.

It goes without saying that Hamilton — a 22-year-old from Mississippi and the top-rated prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization — is fast. His 155 steals last season came after 103 in 2011. Combine those with a .311 batting average and a .410 on-base percentage in 2012, and it's enough to make him the 20th overall prospect according to Baseball America and 11th overall per MLB.com.

Hamilton might have caught your eye last year in the MLB Futures Game or maybe you heard about that 13.8-second inside-the-park home run he hit.

On Tuesday, he was re-assigned to Triple-A to start 2013, which isn't much of a surprise considering the Reds' crowded (and potent) outfield. But eyes will be on Hamilton this season, even in Louisville. People will want to see how many bases he can steal, how dangerous his speed can be.

We finally cornered Hamilton, wanting to ask him some questions about being fast.

"How long will this take?" he asked.

Understandable. He's a man on the move. Just look at that "Speed Kills" wristband.

We said, just like him, we'd make it quick.

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(AP)

Mike Oz: When did you realize you were fast?
Billy Hamilton: Of course I found out when I was younger. I used to beat everybody in running. I had a bunch of friends that was about the same age as me. That's what we used to do. We used to race. I never did run track, but racing was our thing. It just made everybody faster. My family was a bunch of competitors. We hated to lose. I had to do whatever I could to get faster and beat the next person. I knew I was kind of fast then. I didn't really steal bases in high school. But in high school, who wants to go out and steal bases? You're trying to hit home runs.

MO: As a whole in life, do you appreciate things that are fast? Like fast cars?
BH: Yeah, for sure. I don't drive fast cars. I like to see someone else drive fast cars.

MO: Do you like fast food?
BH: Fast food, I'm a big fast food guy. I talk fast. Eat fast.

MO: Who in baseball would you want to race?
BH: I don't want to race nobody. I got game speed. I don't want to race anybody like I'm a track star or something.

MO: What do you do slow?
BH: Nothing, really.

MO: Do you like slow jams?
BH: Oh, yeah, I like some slow jams. Sometimes, but like not all the time. I'd rather listen to fast music than slow jams.

MO: How fast do you think you can make an impact on the Reds?
BH: Whenever they need me. I'm ready whenever they need me to. I'm just going to keep working hard and become a better player. When the time is right, I'll be ready for it.

Are you ready for opening day?
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