Hand Injury Gives Reds' Hamilton Winter Break

CINCINNATI—Billy Hamilton's winter ball season lasted all of 10 games, when he broke his left hand sliding into second base.

The hand healed quickly, but the Reds decided to shut Hamilton down.
"It probably wasn't a bad thing," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He had played a lot. It gave him some time off to recover."

Hamilton, a 21-year-old shortstop, is the No. 2 prospect in the organization. His speed is what put him there. He stole 103 bases in 123 attempts for low Class A Dayton last year and may be the fastest player in baseball. The rest of his game needs development.

Hamilton batted .278/.340/.360 with three home runs last year. He overcame a rough start to get his numbers to that point. Part of that was his first exposure to cold-weather baseball, and part was that he's only been switch-hitting since he was drafted.

"With him, it's just a matter of getting experience," Jocketty said. "He's made very good progress with his switch-hitting. Our people in player development are pleased with his progress. He's coming along fast."

Hamilton is likely to start 2012 at high Class A Bakersfield, though he could move up to the Reds' new Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, Fla. "We'll determine that during spring training," Jocketty said.

Hamilton will continue to play shortstop, though the Reds used him both at second and short during his first two years in the system.

"We think he can play there," Jocketty said. "Good shortstops are hard to find."


• The Reds signed righthander Wirfin Obispo from Japan's Nippon-Ham Fighters. Obispo put up 3.25 ERA in Japan last year. Obispo, a native of the Dominican Republic, spent three years in the Reds organization before becoming a free agent and going to Japan.

• The Reds will play an exhibition game on April 3 at Great American Ball Park against their top minor leaguers. Some coaches and players will wear microphones and interact with fans during batting and infield practice.