Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said the team will go with speedy prospect Billy Hamilton as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for next season.
The Reds lost Shin-Soo Choo to the Texas Rangers in free agency last week and their trade proposal to the New York Yankees for Brett Gardner was turned down.
That left Hamilton the next viable option for the Reds.
"He's the guy," Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We feel confident he can be a good leadoff hitter. He'll give us great defense. The only question is how often he can get on base. He'll start working on his bunting again after the first of the year. If he can master that, it will really help him."
Hamilton, 23, stole 13 bases in 14 attempts after a September callup. He set a minor league record with 155 steals in 2012 and added 75 this year.
However, offense has been an issue for Hamilton. He had a batting line of .256/.308/.343 with 38 walks and 102 strikeouts in 547 plate appearances at the Class AAA level this year.
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