Projecting Reds OF after Ludwick injury

Updated: April 2, 2013, 12:50 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
Except for catchers on opposing teams, everyone seems to love Cincinnati Reds minor league speed demon Billy Hamilton, and for good reason. He has the potential to be baseball's first 100-steal guy since the days of Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman. Who wouldn't love that? And wouldn't you know it, early in the Reds' Opening Day, extra-inning loss against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday -- yeah, they're doing the interleague thing all season now -- Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick suffered a dislocated right shoulder on an awkward slide at third base, fueling speculation that Hamilton would soon be altering the look of fantasy leagues this week.

But I don't see it happening. Even if Ludwick is out long term -- and as of now we still don't know the degree of the injury or whether surgery will be required -- Hamilton needs more time in the minor leagues, and he's likely to get as much as he needs. Yes, the speed he possesses is hard to fathom. I've seen it in person numerous times, from the Futures Game at All-Star weekend last year to the Arizona Fall League and spring training, and Hamilton is crazy fast. But he also didn't look crazy ready for the big leagues in his limited playing time this spring (.192 batting average, 9 strikeouts in 26 at-bats). He needs work at the plate and in learning center field before he deserves a promotion.