Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton has gained perspective heading into his fourth full season in the majors, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Learning to manage the tension of the game, and picking up some of Joey Votto’s preparation routines, have Hamilton sporting a newfound confidence that comes from being “relaxed going to the plate.” Rather than overthinking things when he goes to bat, Hamilton says, “I know what I want to do before I go in the box.” That approach helped the 26-year-old put up a strong .369 OBP and swipe 36 bags over the final 45 games of the 2016 season; combined with an outstanding glove, that made him quite a productive player. Heading into his first season of arbitration eligibility, with two more to go, Hamilton could establish himself as a strong everyday center fielder (and, perhaps, an extension candidate) if he can continue that performance.
Here’s more from the National League:
- The Brewers are set to give Jesus Aguilar a shot at winning a bench job with the club, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on Twitter. Claimed off waivers earlier in the winter from the Indians, the 26-year-old Aguilar is out of options. While he hasn’t seen much MLB action, Aguilar does own a productive .271/.346/.472 batting line at the Triple-A level and could share time at first with new Milwaukee signee Eric Thames if he impresses this spring.
- Likewise, the Mets seem to be giving righty Seth Lugo a shot at showing he deserves the team’s fifth rotation slot after a surprising showing in 2016. As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports, Lugo will do battle with fellow righty Robert Gsellman in camp, with the former receiving the starting nod on Friday. New York plans to keep one on the staff, with the other working from the Triple-A rotation rather than the pen, while Zack Wheeler catches up and hopefully reclaims his spot on the MLB roster.
- Chris Marrero represents something of a dark horse in the Giants’ active battle for bench spots — which we covered earlier tonight — as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. San Francisco placed a call to his representatives right at the start of free agency, and the 28-year-old jumped at the opportunity. “If this team wants you, it’s a good thing,” he says. Once a highly regarded prospect with the Nationals, Marrero has scant MLB time, but did slash a productive .284/.344/.494 and hit a career-best 23 home runs in 544 Triple-A plate appearances last year with the Red Sox organization.
- Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tells the interesting tale of an unlikely Marlins pitcher, righty Tayron Guerrero. A towering, hard-throwing reliever, Guerrero hails from a tiny island in Colombia; learning to play ball there required a two-hour walk through the jungle and a boat ride to the mainland. Guerrero cracked the majors briefly with the Padres before being shipped to Miami as part of last summer’s Andrew Cashner trade. If he can refine his control — he averaged a career-low 4.0 BB/9 in the upper minors in 2016 — Guerrero could turn into a factor in the Marlins’ pen.