Pomeranz was a key piece, if not the centerpiece, of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade to the Indians. Rare that you see a team part with a power left-handed pitcher. Especially one that has two plus pitches, a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s with good life and a 12-to-6 knuckle-curveball that has been called “devastating” and a “wicked-ass pitch” by Baseball America and John Sickels respectfully. His changeup is a work in progress, but is still “solid-average,” according to BA. Delivery is deceptive and the ball is hard to track coming out of his hand. He’ll need to work on his command, control and changeup to reach ceiling of a front line starter – a good number two starter.
Career Stats/2011 Stats (A+/AA): 11.1 K/9 | 3.8 BB/9 | 91 IP (77 IP A+; 14 IP AA) | 1.98 ERA | 2.36 FIP (A+); 2.99 FIP (AA) | 1.14 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 6.5 H/9 | .295 BABIP (A+); .273 BABIP (AA) | 77.7 LOB% (A+).
What is there to not like about a 22-year-old power lefty that has been nothing less than impressive in 2011? Yes, I know his performance at Double-A is based upon a small sample size but he hasn’t been overly lucky (.295 and .273 BABIPs). You can point to his high(ish) LOB% and expect a rise in ERA, and this much is completely true. Yes, Pomeranz was worth the fifth overall pick in 2010 draft, but probably to trade away less than a year later. He isn’t Clayton Kershaw, even if a close comparison. His curveball is dominating yet he needs to improve his changeup along with sharper command and control. I don’t see the move to Colorado putting a damper on his prospect value. Expect a 2012 ETA with similar early results as a young Clayton Kershaw (8.5 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9).
In 2010, Hamilton was voted the Pioneer League’s top prospect based primarily on his 48 steals. Did I mention that was in 69 games? His speed is easily ranked highly amongst the fastest prospects in the minors. Granted, his only plus asset is his speed. For instance, as a switch-hitter, he has been timed in 3.9 seconds from home-to-first when batting right-handed and 3.5 seconds from home-to-first when batting left-handed. While swinging like Ichiro helps – runs into his swing – his power is nearly non-existent. Hamilton has gap power at best, oftentimes settling to slap the ball the other way and use his speed to stretch singles into doubles, and doubles into triples. Not all speedsters are good base stealers. Hamilton is both. He is able to read pitchers well, get good jumps and fully utilizes his plus-plus speed. Projects to steal 50-plus bases a year. The high amount of steals is contingent upon him reaching base, but with solid strike-zone awareness for his age and aptitude, it’s plausible; he’ll definitely need to continue to improve his hitting mechanics to increase consistency. Defensively, his quickness give him good range for either middle infield spots; possesses an average arm and throws from a low arm slot. Scouts bicker if his arm and throwing mechanics will push him to second. Most of 2010 was played at second but 2011 has been all at shortstop. He projects as an ideal leadoff hitter if he can reach his ceiling.
Pre 2011 Stats (Rk): .276/.328/.368 | 449 AB | 34 XBH | 2 Hr | .092 ISO | 62/12 SB/CS | 103:39 K:BB
2011 Stats (A): .258/.319/.344 | 407 AB | 23 XBH | 2 Hr | .086 ISO | 75/15 SB/CS | 99:37 K:BB | .334 BABIP
Rarely, do I select a Class Low Single-A prospect. However, when I heard that Cincinnati Reds GM Walt Jocketty wasn’t willing to trade either Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco or Hamilton at the trade deadline, my figurative jaw dropped. I can understand Chapman and Mesoraco, but Hamilton? A Class Low Single-A middle infield prospect with speed as his only plus-tool. Then I reviewed his stats and his scouting reports closer. I still couldn’t believe Jocketty’s quote. Hamilton reminds me more of Willy Taveras than Michael Bourn or even Juan Pierre. Matter-of-fact, Taveras’ minor league stats mirror similarly to Hamilton’s current production. Both are slap-hitting, speed based players. Both have poor slash lines when at Class Low Single-A. Both strike out too much for a slap-hitter. Both gain their sole value from speed – steals and defensive range. I understand speed is exciting, that prospect value has increased over the last two to three years. Furthermore, I know that the game is changing. Nevertheless, a .250 average slap-hitting, strikeout prone, 20-year-old middle-infielder (2B/SS) at Low Single-A is at least two years from the majors, if not three. A lot can happen during that time. Think Dee Gordon without the pedigree or defensive capability. Hamilton projects as an ideal leadoff hitter if he can get himself on base. ETA 2014.