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Hamilton takes novel path to scoring
Reds top prospect records first career multi-homer game
05/10/2013 11:34 PM ET
Billy Hamilton leads the International League with 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts.
Billy Hamilton leads the International League with 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts. (Pat Pfister)

Billy Hamilton is used to drawing attention at the ballpark, though not for the reasons he did Friday night.

The prolific basestealer didn't swipe a single bag against Triple-A Buffalo. In fact, he didn't even attempt a steal.

What Hamilton did, however, was hit two home runs for the first time in his Minor League career, including his first pair of longballs from the left side of the plate, in Louisville's 7-5 loss to visiting Buffalo.

It was a rare surge of power from a player whose season high is three homers for Class A Dayton in 2011.

"It feels pretty good. That's not usually my game, but if it happens, it happens," Hamilton said. "It's pretty shocking to do it, especially from the left side -- that was my first time [hitting a home run] left-handed. But it felt good."

The Reds' top prospect started the season hot, going 8-for-16 in his first four games at Triple-A. In 25 contests from April 9 through Tuesday, however, he batted .140 (14-for-100).

His last couple of games have provided signs of life as MLB.com's No. 11 overall prospect cobbled together a pair of hits Thursday, then went 3-for-5 on Friday after tacking on a bunt single to his two-homer night.

Hamilton has a .214/.272/.333 line in 31 games for the Bats, an increase of more than 80 points in OPS in less than a week. The 22-year-old outfielder said he remained confident he would heat up as the temperatures do.

"I had a few good games, had a few bad games, but that's how it always is," he said. "It's been good adjusting to [Triple-A]. I'm a type of player that takes a bit to get going, but I always figure out a way to get it going. I'm figuring out what pitchers are trying to do to me."

Hamilton, of course, is still stealing bases with 17 thefts in 20 changes. That efficiency, combined with a hotter bat to help him get on base more, remains the core of his game, he said.

"It feels real good [lately]. My game is stealing bases, but when you have a chance to get some hits and get on base and score runs, it's a pretty good thing," said the 22-year-old shortstop-turned-outfielder.

Hamilton drew plenty of attention last season when he hit .311/.410/.420 in 132 games between Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, setting a professional baseball record with 155 steals along the way. He also hit two homers all year, a total he matched Friday.

It's an anomaly, of course, but if he can continue to drive the ball, it helps open up the other facets of his game. Pointing to the seventh-inning single, Hamilton said, "That good start helped me with the bunt hit toward the end of the game."

His first few weeks in the International League posed some difficulties, but with back-to-back multi-hit games -- the first time he's done so this season -- he thinks he's starting to get the better of opposing pitchers.

"I'm feeling more comfortable at the plate, I'd like to keep getting some more hits. Instead of chasing the ball, I'm seeing it a little bit better," the Mississippi native said.

The Bisons got homers from Anthony Gose, Mauro Gomez and Eugenio Velez to take some of the sting out of Hamilton's big night. Dave Bush (4-2) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts over six innings to pick up the win.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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