We've all heard about Billy Hamilton, the fastest man alive, or the fastest man to ever play baseball, or whatever you want to label him. He's a very good prospect as he's not just a basestealing wonder. He has legitimate baseball skills and begins the year at Triple-A Louisville for the Reds. He's expected to reach the majors sometime this summer, once he learns to play center field after previously playing shortstop.
But check out this line from Louisville's opener last night by left-hander Tony Cingrani:
6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 SO
Cingrani was removed after throwing 84 pitches, 55 for strikes, and admitted he started thinking of a no-hitter in the second. Now that's a confident pitcher.
It's perhaps another reason the Reds kept Aroldis Chapman as the closer, knowing they had Cingrani close to the majors. Last year in the minors, Cingrani struck out 172 in 146 innings and allowed just 98 hits; he even made a late-season appearance in Cincinnati, striking out nine batters in five innings. A third-round pick out of Rice in 2011, Keith Law had him as his No. 98 prospect when spring training opened (Hamilton was No. 30) as he's not overpowering. He throws in the low 90s, although this report said he touched 95-96 early in the game on Thursday. He has a slider and changeup, but it sounds like he threw a lot of fastballs this night. Scouting reports say he has a lot of deception in the delivery, which the numbers bear out. (Here's a Redleg Nation podcast previewing the Reds' minor league season.)
Cingrani is one of those guys where the numbers are better than the scouting reports. Sometimes the numbers are right and sometimes the scouting reports are right. Of course, it's just one start. But the Reds have to feel confident knowing that if Bronson Arroyo or Mike Leake struggle or somebody gets hurt that they have a pretty good starter ready to step in.