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Speedy Reds prospect Hamilton is ticketed for Class AAA

The SportsXchange

For a guy who has played only 50 games above Class A, Billy Hamilton is very well known by Reds fans.

After all, Hamilton set a professional record by stealing 155 bases last year. The fans want to see him in Cincinnati post haste. Instead, they'll have to travel 100 miles or so southwest to watch him this year.

General manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Hamilton would start the 2013 season with Class AAA Louisville.

"He'll be playing center field and working on his offense and his overall game," Jocketty said. "He's going to probably end up bunting a lot, with his speed. Bunting and running are his two key tools."

Hamilton, 22, is the Reds' No. 1 prospect, according to Baseball America. He played exclusively at shortstop last year, but he began the transition to center field in Instructional League.

Hamilton hit .311 with a .410 on-base percentage last year, earning his first invitation to big-league camp this year.

The Reds hope Hamilton can be ready to play center and lead off in the majors by 2014. The club traded for Shin-Soo Chin to fill those roles for 2013, but Choo is a free agent after this season.

"We've got Choo for this year, and then we'll see," Jocketty said.
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