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Hamilton shows depth with career night06/22/2012 2:24 AM ET
By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com
Everyone wants to talk about Billy Hamilton's stolen-base total this season and with good reason. After swiping two more bags Thursday, the Bakersfield shortstop has 82 steals on the year, or one more than Delino DeShields, Jr. (46) and teammate Theo Bowe (35) combined. And those two rank third and fourth among all Minors Leaguers respectively in the category.
But the Reds' top prospect hasn't earned the hype based on his feet alone, and he proved that Thursday night.
Hamilton tied career highs with four hits and three RBIs and added a walk, two runs scored and two thefts in Class A Advanced Bakersfield's 12-2 rout of Rancho Cucamonga.
He finished the day 4-for-5 -- all singles -- to push his season batting average to .331, its highest level since May 16. His .416 on-base percentage ranks second in the California League behind only Miles Head's .433 for Stockton.
Thursday's contest pitted the switch-hitting Hamilton against Quakes starter and Dodgers' No. 1 prospect Zach Lee. After flying out against the righty to kick off the contest, Hamilton lined a base hit to right field in the second and was consequently caught stealing at second -- his Minors-leading 17th capture on the basepaths -- to close the frame.
The two would not face each other again as Lee was pulled after allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits through three innings.
Hamilton added his second single of the night off Jon Michael Redding in the fourth and then turned to steal second immediately after. He scored his first run of the night in the seventh when he singled, stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly. The Mississippi native rounded the bases again in the eighth on Dominic D'Anna's triple before ending his night with a ninth-inning walk.
It was the 2009 second-round pick's first four-hit game since he achieved the feat three times last August for Class A Dayton, including in back-to-back games on Aug. 22-23. Thursday marked the third time this season Hamilton drove in three runs, the last occurrence being in a 6-1 win over Stockton on May 15.
Thursday's victory marked Hamilton's first game back with the Blaze following the 2012 Carolina-California League All-Star Game. The 22-year-old was 1-for-5 with two stolen bases and earned Cal League MVP honors for his work as the circuit's leadoff hitter.
He was also selected Thursday to represent the U.S. team in the 14th All-Star Futures Game on July 8.
Steve Selsky homered twice and scored three times in his Class A Advanced debut for the Blaze. The outfielder was batting .281 with three home runs and 26 RBIs in 59 games for Dayton before receiving the callup to Bakersfield.
Tucker Barnhart was a triple shy of the cycle, scored three times and drove in two.