2010 Cardinals Prospect #19 – Mark Hamilton

Can the first baseman work his way into the outfield picture and make a difference in St. Louis?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2009 and career stats)

2009 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Throw Signed Round
NR 1B 7/29/1984 6-4 220 L L 2006 2s

School: Tulane University

Selected 2009 stats

SPR 0.307 163 26 50 11 0 8 28 28 46 0 0.421 0.521 0.942
MEM 0.308 130 22 40 11 0 6 19 13 34 0 0.375 0.531 0.906
Tot 0.307 293 48 90 22 0 14 47 41 80 0 0.401 0.526 0.927
DWL 0.191 47 4 9 1 0 2 9 6 15 0 0.298 0.34 0.639

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (21): After failing to live up to his draft status, Hamilton appeared to right the ship in 2009. Starting the season at Double-A Springfield, the Tulane product was promoted to Memphis and proved he belonged. In 130 at bats, he posted a line of .308/.375/.531 to go along with his six home runs. The 25-year-old posted isolated power numbers of .215 and .223, respectively.

A career first baseman, he is adequate around the bag while showing good footwork and average range. With the position blocked at the big league level, he is going to have to prove himself able to handle the outfield corner positions to add to his versatility.

But buyer beware. Though he hit over .307 at both of his stops this season, one number stood out. Hamilton posted a BABIP of .385 at Springfield while he posted a .378 average with Memphis. That is a huge increase over his career number of just over .300. This could very well explain his first professional .300 season, though he entered the year as a career .254 hitter.

Message board community (16): 2nd/4th/2nd. 6th/4th/4th.

What are those numbers? The first is Mark Hamilton's rank in OBP/SLG%/OPS in the Texas League in 2010 if he had had enough plate appearances to qualify for the league leadership. The second group is the same numbers for Hamilton in the Pacific Coast League compared to those of his age or younger. Quite impressive. As such, why does Mark Hamilton not rate higher as a Cardinal prospect? The answer appears to be simple: Albert Pujols. It seems safe to say that if Hamilton had these same numbers and the Cardinals needed an upgrade at first base, then Hamilton would rank higher.

Hamilton accomplished those numbers with a high .385 BABIP. However in the context of his 29% LD rate for the year it is actually sustainable. Hamilton has also had knocks on his attitude over the years. His request to play Winter League ball to learn the outfield seems to me to be a positive step both in addressing any attitude questions and the fact that he is blocked by Albert Pujols.

Hamilton should start 2010 back at Triple-A Memphis. His opportunities there to learn to play the outfield would appear to be limited due to a logjam of other candidates. If Hamilton continues to hit like he did in 2009, he could force the Cards to trade him, possibly at the trade deadline, for another area of need. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (26): I have to admit that much of the enthusiasm I had over Hamilton was dimmed by his position in the field and reinforced by his ill-fated winter league stint to learn the outfield. The latter was aborted when he did not hit enough to satisfy his Dominican club and was quickly released.

There can be no dispute about Hamilton's fine 2009 season with Springfield and Memphis, but it seems he sneaked up on everyone. Last winter at this time, he did not receive a single mention for the 2009 top prospect list from any of the four voters. The reason why likely had something to do with a middling three-season OPS of .762 from 2006 though 2008. Until I can get a better read on which is the real Mark Hamilton, I will remain cautious.

Link to video (On right menu, scroll down, click "Draft Prospects A – M", then locate Hamilton's name.)

Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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