The lost season in 2020 impacted more or less every pro baseball player, but I’d argue nobody was hit harder than the college juniors with draft aspirations. Were they not a part of the top tiers of talent in the eyes of MLB scouts, they were on the outside of the abbreviated five-round draft looking in, with only strictly-capped UDFA opportunities available. This meant that many chose to return to school for 2021, creating a very competitive senior sign market on day two.
It was difficult to stand out in this stacked group, but one player who managed to do so was Wright State’s Quincy Hamilton, who, along with future Milwaukee Brewers first round pick Tyler Black, helped pace one of the country’s best offenses with a .374/.535/.771 slash line, 15 home runs, and a ridiculous 56/32 BB/K ratio in 241 PAs while starting in center field every day. Already 23 years old on draft day, Hamilton had little leverage in negotiations, but his huge season impressed the Astros enough that they used their 5th round pick on him, indicating he was a key piece of their strategy despite his small eventual signing bonus of around $50k.
Hamilton essentially went straight from postseason play with the Raiders to full season minor league ball in Fayetteville last year, slashing .261/.366/.357 with a solid BB/K mark of 18/28. He certainly held his own, but the lacking power elevated some concerns about the amount of juice in his bat— while his college power numbers were excellent, Wright State’s home park is known as a launching pad.
As a result, he lost out on a High-A gig to start 2022, but quickly pressured Astros brass to reconsider that decision. In 36 games to start the year for Fayetteville, Hamilton found his power stroke again, connecting for 6 homers and 8 doubles while slashing .291/.400/.485 and 20 walks against 27 strikeouts. He also chipped in 8 stolen bases on 8 attempts. Defensively, he was rotated around all three outfield spots, playing about half of his total innings in left field with the remainder split between center and right.
The improved performance was enough to earn him a swift promotion, and through 17 games with High-A Asheville, his slash line currently sits at .338/.418/.515 with a stellar 10/14 BB/K ratio. It’s best not to get overzealous about his raw numbers given his age (he turned 24 over the weekend), but he’s meeting expectations for what a prospective major leaguer with his experience level should be doing at this level. It’s probably true that his power won’t be impactful per se at the highest levels, but he has shown that he hits the ball hard enough to be productive on offense, and the rest of his tools can all comfortably be rated in average territory giving him the kind of well-rounded skillset teams want to see in his role.
He may only be a few weeks removed from his last promotion, but if he’s able to maintain this pace through the rest of the month, I’d support the Astros giving him a second half trial in Double-A to really get a feel for what they’ve got. I err heavily on the side of caution with older position players, but it’s important to consider context as well, and under normal circumstances he probably could’ve been a productive A-ball player at age 22. I think he’s earned a right to be placed on a fast track as a potential reserve outfielder as soon as later 2023.