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Minor League Level Review (High-A): Could Billy Hamilton Steal 100 Before the MLB All-Star Break?


With the first two days of the draft over, we are starting to get a pretty good idea of how the draft bonuses could shape up, and with the signing deadline moved up this summer to July 15th, we could very well see some of the top picks in one of the High-A leagues before season's end. The name I could see jump right in if he signs (which it appears likely he will) is Mike Zunino of the Mariners. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the top prospects already playing at High-A. With each player, I am also giving a percentage which represents what chance I think they get promoted up to AA before season's end. These are nothing more than wild guesses on my part, where I take a look at how they have been moved in the past and guess at that likelihood.

California League

Billy Hamilton (CIN)

Hamilton has 63 stolen bases through Monday's games. That is 63 steals in 54 games so far. He's been a bit hot of late, hitting .390/.510/.463 with 17 steals in his last 10 games. He's also stolen at least one base in each of those last 10 games as well. (50%)

Miles Head (OAK)

Miles Head is currently leading the Cal League in OPS, has 11 home runs, and is hitting .367. He's hit 3 bombs in his last 10 games, but 2 of those were at the offensive environment that most closely resembles the moon, High Desert. I keep waiting to see if they will promote him, but they have been really trying to keep him at 3B, which seems extremely unlikely based on what I saw a couple weeks ago. (30%)

Rymer Liriano (SD)

Liriano is now up to .293/.354/.420 on the season, with 18 stolen bases out of 24 attempts. I'm not sold we are going to see the power he showed in the Midwest League, but he seems like he could be a great source of speed regardless. However, each time he has moved up in the past, he's struggled, so I would say: (15%)

Carolina League

Jackie Bradley Jr (BOS)

Bradley has been extremely hot, hitting .432/.476/.649 with 2 steals recently. He seems to be the most likely candidate to be promoted to AA soon. (70%)

Cheslor Cuthbert (KC)

Cuthbert is hitting slightly better of late, but .250/.333/.344 in his last 10 isn't exactly record breaking. He seems destined at this point to stay down all season, and could possibly repeat the level next season if he doesn't show some improvement soon (<1%)

Matt Barnes (BOS)

Barnes continues to put up excellent numbers, striking out 39 and walking just 4 so far in 34 innings pitched at High-A. I don't know how likely it is that the Red Sox move him up a second level this season, but they may have to if he keeps pitching this way. (40%)

Cody Buckel (TEX)

Buckel continues to lead the Carolina League in strikeouts with 81, and has allowed a measly 39 hits in 64 innings pitched. The 22 walks in that time are somewhat concerning, but coupled with the strikeouts I am less concerned. (40%)

Dylan Bundy (BAL)

Bundy was finally promoted to High-A, and it appears he hasn't really missed a beat yet. He has 13 strikeouts and a walk in his 10 innings so far, and has allowed 3 earned runs so far. (25%)

Florida State League

Nick Castellanos (DET)

Castellanos was promoted yesterday to AA Erie, and for some reason I felt the need to make note on Twitter of this fact: The Tigers will not be moving Castellanos away from 3B until they have to, regardless of who is playing there in the Majors for them right now. (100%)

Christian Yelich (MIA)

Yelich's numbers have looked better of late, as he now has 7 home runs and 11 stolen bases on the season. He has missed time this year due to injury, which leads me to think he'll stay in High-A most of the season. (<10%)

Gerrit Cole (PIT)

Cole has lived up to the hype that made him a #1 draft pick last season, as he has 56 strikeouts and 19 walks in 57 innings pitched. (30%)

Jameson Taillon (PIT)

Taillon has been excellent so far in the FSL, striking out 52 and walking just 16 in 58 innings despite being the youngest pitcher in the league. (10%)

Carlos Martinez (STL)

Martinez was recently promoted to AA by the Cardinals, and now joins a majority of their system's top prospects there, including Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong. (100%)