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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Josh Hamilton

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 5/21/81, Age: 20, Height: 6’4’’, Weight: 209, Bats: L, Throws: L. Acquired: Rays - Drafted in the 1st Round of 1999 Draft (Athens Drive HS, Raleigh, NC). 2000 Stats: (Low-A - Charleston) .302 AVG, 391 AB, 23 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 14 SB, 27 BB, 71 K, .345 OBP, .474 SLG. 2001 Stats: (Low-A - Charleston) .364 AVG, 11 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, .462 OBP, .727 SLG. (AA - Orlando) .180 AVG, 89 AB, 5 2B, 2 SB, 5 BB, 22 K, .221 OBP, .236 SLG.

Josh Hamilton is as close to a "can’t miss" prospect as there is. He has all five tools, a fantastic work ethic, and a personality that could make him a cult hero in Tampa. His enormous power is already evident, and can only be expected to increase as he matures. He reminds me a great deal of Vladimir Guerrero at the plate, with the aggressive style and the explosive power. His defense is tremendous despite his size 19 feet: people still talk about his back-to-the-plate catch in the Futures Game with reverence. He also has one of the strongest arms in the minors, making him a good fit for either center or right field. There was some talk about sending Hamilton to the majors in both 1999 and 2000, but fortunately, the Rays managed to control themselves. Josh’s major problems have been health-related, especially this season. He missed a third of 2000 with a knee injury, but that was merely setting the stage for 2001. He finished this season with exactly 100 at-bats, missing time to the flu, a back injury sustained in an auto accident, two quad strains, and a hamstring injury. He is planning to play in the AFL this fall, so maybe the year won’t be completely lost, but his development has certainly been retarded to some extent.

There isn’t much to look at in Hamilton’s stat line, especially if you believe that he wasn’t completely healthy even when he was on the field. Overall, Hamilton has 24 home runs in almost 800 pro at-bats, a kind of pace that is unheard of for a player his age. Every coach that he has encountered has raved about his attitude, his work ethic, and any other intangible you can name. I expect that you’ll see him perform well in the AFL, start next season (healthy, hopefully) back in Orlando, and possibly earn a September call-up to Tampa. Before this season, I expected him to be ready by next year, but he should still be ready to assume a job in the Ray outfield by the middle of 2003, barring any further health issues. He has the potential to be a Ken Griffey Jr.-type talent, and should be the core player that Tampa Bay can build around for the next fifteen years. Anything less than that level of performance would be a disappointment.


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