Why the Boston Red Sox should call up David Hamilton
By James Monday
Newsflash, folks: David Hamilton is very good at baseball. Hamilton has been one of, if not the best, performer for the Worcester Red Sox so far this year, batting to the tune of a .270/.350/.547 slash line with 11 home runs, 24 RBIs, and an organization-leading 23 stolen bases so far in 2023. Hamilton is proving himself to be a valuable asset in Worcester, yet the 25-year-old remains undervalued within the organization's prospect rankings, barely cracking the top 30.
Between seeing the jump that his power has made already (he hit 12 home runs all of last season in double-A Portland), a drop in his strikeout rate at the plate, and showing that he can consistently get on base, let's figure out where Hamilton could slot into the Red Sox lineup.
How can David Hamilton fit into the Red Sox lineup?
The easy slot for Hamilton to step into is serving as the primary shortstop. As we are all aware, the shortstop position has been somewhat of a weak spot when it comes to the Red Sox lineup day in and day out, with Kiké Hernandez serving as the primary shortstop in the midst of a down season. However, I don't see the Red Sox going for this option considering Hernandez's role as a leader in the clubhouse, especially with there being somewhat of a blockade in center field for Hernandez with Jarren Duran staying hot right now.
The next spot to look at for Hamilton would be second base, but there is quite the log jam already. Christian Arroyo will be coming back from his injury soon enough, and I expect him to take the reins at second back from the Emmanuel Valdez-Pablo Reyes platoon until Trevor Story returns. The roster gymnastics that are needed for Hamilton to be an option at second base honestly hurt my brain to think about, so we'll move past that option for now.
In looking at the options on the 26-man roster, it seems like if the Red Sox decide to call David Hamilton up, it might need to come at the expense of Emmanuel Valdez, since both of them are left-handed bats that serve as infielders, so if Valdez begins to show signs of seriously slumping, this sort of like-for-like swap would allow Alex Cora to keep the matchup balance that he currently has in the lineup.
What if we're just too early in the season?
As I laid out in the previous section, there's a lot of moving pieces that would need to settle in for Hamilton to have a reasonable path up to the majors, which begs the question: is throwing a prospect that's succeeding into a roster still somewhat in flux just letting the chaos continue to fester?
The Red Sox still have Trevor Story and Adalberto Mondesi returning from injury later in the season, most likely replacing Reyes and Valdez on the 26-man roster. Once those guys are back and the Red Sox get a clear view into what their lineup (hopefully) going into the playoffs will look like, the Red Sox may be more willing to see what guys they have that could serve as a potential x-factor, and I think that's where David Hamilton could slide into the Red Sox lineup.
Hamilton has done most of his damage off of right-handed pitchers so far this season in Worcester, serving as a potential matchup that could be used and exploited in a pinch-hit scenario later on in games, or to be used as a spot start against a righty starter where the Sox could be looking to jump all over early on in a game. On top of that, Hamilton's speed alone makes him a valuable asset, especially with the new rules leading to more stolen bases across the league. In a league where swiping bags has become more of a weapon being used to help offenses, why not put someone who has 93 stolen bases in his 159 games between Portland and Worcester to use?
While getting David Hamilton a consistent slot in the lineup may be tricky as of right now, there are ways for Hamilton to be a valuable contributor to the 2023 Boston Red Sox, and he needs to be given a shot in the Majors this year to showcase his speed and burgeoning power.