ST. LOUIS -- It's been hinted and largely expected, but now it will definitely happen next season. Reds top prospect Billy Hamilton is switching positions, going from shortstop to center field.
"There are a lot of reasons," Bill Bavasi, the Reds' vice president of scouting and player development, told MLB.com. "We have [Zack] Cozart. We have Didi [Gregorius]. If you watch Hamilton's style of play, it's a pounding style of play. It would be an easier position for his body to take along with the base stealing. Everything seems to work better."
This season, the 22-year-old Hamilton set a new professional baseball record with 155 stolen bases in 192 attempts for Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.
The Reds started preparing Hamilton for the switch during this season.
"Most of the year, he took a round of BP in center field -- at both Bakersfield and Pensacola," Bavasi said. "We would just back everybody off so he could watch balls come off of the bat."
Hamilton is at the team's Goodyear, Ariz., complex working out with players from the organization's instructional league to prepare himself for the Arizona Fall League. In the AFL, he is expected to play center field, left field and shortstop.
Moving Hamilton to center field does not mean a Major League promotion is imminent for 2013.
"He's not at the point yet where we have to make room for him," Bavasi said. "I can't really tell you where he's going to start next year -- Double-A or Triple-A."