Hamilton named top NL rookie for April

Hamilton earns NL rookie honors

Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton's storybook season continued on Wednesday when he was named the National League Rookie of the Month.

In April, Hamilton led all rookies with six home runs and tied for the lead among Major League rookies with 13 RBIs. He becomes the first Reds player to receive the honor since Austin Kearns in May 2002.

Hamilton doesn't think he could have asked for a much better start.

"Yeah, that was cool," Hamilton said. "You can't really write it much better than that. I'm just happy [to be] playing and getting an opportunity."

Hamilton's rise to Major League stardom has been well-documented. He was the first overall pick by the Devil Rays in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft but his career was derailed shortly thereafter because of injuries. Frustrated and bored, Hamilton started hanging around with the wrong crowd and got involved with drugs and alcohol.

That was a long time ago, though, and through the support of his wife and family, Hamilton has cleaned himself up. He received a fresh start when he joined the Reds last December, and the 25-year-old has been on fire ever since.

Cincinnati manager Jerry Narron loves what he has seen from the rookie so far this season and knows that Hamilton has the potential to just keep getting better.

"The thing I see is a player that's just scratching the surface of what he can do," Narron said. "When he gets a lot of game time and a lot of at-bats, he's got a chance to really be something."

After an impressive Spring Training, Hamilton made the Reds as their fourth outfielder. His performance at the plate, though, has forced Narron to find a way to get the left-handed-hitting slugger regular at-bats. That's something Reds center fielder Ryan Freel agrees with.

"You have to have a guy like that in the lineup," Freel said. "He's one of the better athletes I've seen. [The] sky's the limit for him ... Regardless of where he's been and what's he done, he's the type of guy that can step in and play every day. And he's the type of guy that will put up good numbers if you stick with him."

If Hamilton wants his hot start to continue he knows he will have to continue making adjustments as the season progresses.

"Against lefties, I've done really well because I've beared down and focused a whole lot more," Hamilton said. "Against righties, I expect to see the ball well and get too aggressive swinging at balls out of the zone, which I haven't done all year. I just need to calm down again, play the game and not try to do too much."

Other NL rookies receiving votes included Houston's Chris Sampson, who finished April 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA, and Milwaukee's Tony Gwynn, who hit .368 with four RBIs.

Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.