There's no question Billy Hamilton can run. He did, after all, steal 103 bases in 2011. The big question, though, was if the No. 34 overall prospect (No. 2 on the Reds' Top 20) would hit enough to be able to use his speed. His start to the 2012 season is helping answer those concerns, and it is the reason why he's the first hitter to be honored with this soon-to-be weekly "award."
Yes, he's in the hitter-friendly California League, but it's not like Hamilton's game is based on power that could be skewed by the parks in that circuit. Prior to Thursday's game, Hamilton was fifth in the California League with a .388 average (in 49 at-bats). Knowing it's his job to get on base, he's posted a .474 on-base percentage, good for second in the league.
In 2011, Hamilton struck out 133 times, or once every 4.14 at-bats. In the early going this season, he's improved that to once every 5.44 ABs. He's also shown some extra-base ability with five doubles, three triples and a home run for a gaudy .673 slugging percentage, good for eighth in the Cal League.
Other finalists for the honor were Tyler Austin of the Yankees (.450/.500/.975 in 40 at-bats) and Alen Hanson of the Pirates.