Why did the Red Sox protect David Hamilton in the Rule 5 draft? MLB rule changes offer clue

Read a projection for whom the Red Sox would possibly protect forward of the Rule 5 draft, and David Hamilton’s title by no means comes up.

Beyond apparent keepers like tremendous utilityman Ceddanne Rafaela and left-hander Brandon Walter, the Red Sox have been imagined to agonize over guys like right-hander Thaddeus Ward, infielder Eddinson Paulino, and righty Wikelman Gonzalez.

All went unprotected. Instead, they used one in every of their 40-man slots on Hamilton, a one-dimensional speedster acquired from the Brewers for Hunter Renfroe who would not crack their high 30 in any of the main prospect rankings.

The apparent query is why, and the reply is straightforward: the new guidelines.

Tomase: How Red Sox can capitalize on looming MLB rule changes

In the previous system, there’s just about no means the Red Sox protect Hamilton. The 25-year-old simply stole 70 bases at Double-A Portland, however in any other case would not have a lot on his resume to recommend he might spend the whole 2023 season on a big-league roster. He’s a lifetime .251 hitter who’s thought of a below-average defender at second with the ceiling of bench participant.

The upcoming rule changes make him a way more engaging Rule 5 candidate, nevertheless. Limited pickoffs and bigger bases are designed to extend the risk of stolen bases in the hopes of including extra pleasure to the sport, and that performs proper into Hamilton’s main energy, as a result of his world-class velocity is a real separator.

Over the final two minor league seasons, Hamilton has stolen 122 bases in 139 alternatives. That’s extra steals than anybody in baseball, and it earned him the group’s Minor League Baserunner of the Year Award.

“I’m at all times seeking to go,” Hamilton mentioned in September after successful that award.

Speed ​​could also be the main purpose he was added to the 40-man, however it’s not the just one. A ban on shifts additionally performs into two different strengths.

For one, Hamilton bats left-handed, and hitters from that aspect stand to learn the most from groups not having the ability to station a defender in brief proper subject. For one other, he has the athleticism to cowl appreciable floor at second base, and the shift ban will ask extra of that place defensively, too.

Finally, the renewed emphasis on athleticism and flexibility makes him an intriguing candidate, since he has the velocity to patrol a nook outfield spot, though maybe not the arm.

Speaking in September, farm director Brian Abraham mentioned the crew’s concentrate on including athleticism in the heart of the diamond.

“I believe we have at all times seemed for gamers who might be efficient and environment friendly up the center,” he mentioned. “Guys which can be athletic guys who’re capable of play a number of positions, guys who’re capable of transfer their our bodies effectively, get stronger; all of these issues occur if you’re athletic.

“Seeing guys like David Hamilton and Rafaela be that reveals not solely a excessive ground however a excessive ceiling. I believe we have continued to deliver these kinds of gamers in, and it is allowed us to get extra out of those guys. Definitely a acutely aware effort, and we undoubtedly have extra gamers like that nowadays.”

The Red Sox recognized Hamilton as somebody they did not wish to lose, so that they ensured it by including him to the roster. It’s a transfer that few of us noticed coming, however in retrospect, possibly we should always have.

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