Padres Scouting Report: Clayton Hamilton

Happily sitting in Eugene, Clayton Hamilton got the call. He was being summoned to pitch for the Mobile BayBears – jumping right over Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore in the process. He went out for his spot start and performed well – and was immediately jettisoned back to the Emeralds.

For a player embarking on a journey through the minor leagues, it could have been catastrophic for Clayton Hamilton. He had just begun his trek through the Padres' system and his name was on the docket to go pitch a game for a Southern League team on August 31.

"Talk about being short player wise," Padres' Director of Player Development Tye Waller reflected. "We have had injuries throughout our system and it was just a day we needed a starter in Double-A. If you move one starter from Lake Elsinore, then you have to move one from Fort Wayne and then you have to move one from Eugene.

"This is a move that was in the best interests of the organization. Because of money involved and player movement. I had Alfredo Fernandez pitch one start in Triple-A. It is a way of keeping the organization up and running."

And Hamilton shined in his debut with the BayBears. He lasted five innings and gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out six. He didn't have the benefit of the home crowd either but managed to pick up the win.

He gave up two hits and a walk in the opening inning and cruised the rest of the way. Overcoming that early anxiety proved to be the difference.

Waller had confidence that Hamilton could elevate his game. After all, he did pitch at Penn State.

"I just felt better that Clay was a guy that came from a good program and for one start he could go up to Double-A and hopefully hold his own," Waller said.

His start for Mobile was one of his best pitching performances of the year.

Hamilton began the season in recovery – in Peoria as he mended a broken leg. It caused the right-hander to have a long layoff from taking the mound and the Padres wanted to be careful with him.

He responded with three solid outing in Peoria and was shipped to Eugene – where his career was slated to begin.

When he first began throwing off the hill, Hamilton was a little weary of attacking hitters. He was still favoring his leg and didn't have the confidence needed on the mound. That showed in Eugene where his first three games were forgettable. He allowed ten runs in his first 6.2 innings of work.

After a six run outing, he knew things had to change. And they did. He turned up the volume for the rest of the year and allowed more than one earned run just once over his final six appearances.

His biggest problem with the Emeralds turned out being the long ball. In eight games he allowed five homers and they accounted for many of the runs he allowed. And when runners got into scoring position, they generally scored as witnessed by the .435 average he allowed in those situations. Ironically, the opposition managed to hit just .210 off him for the year.

His best pitch has become his slider – a pitch that was not in his repertoire last season. It has late life that baffles the opposition. He is still in the process of commanding it but the results have been a positive. His 31 strikeouts in 27.2 innings with Eugene reflect that.

Hamilton will return next year with greater expectations. His slow start was attributed to recovery and he won't have that crutch to lean on next year. His mental approach to the game needs to be taken to a new level.

"They say the first year in the organization they just want to kind of see where you are at with what you got," said Hamilton. "Maybe make minor adjustments but don't change things too much so they can get a feel for who you are when you get here and what they think you can be after they work with you."

Whether he was leery to throw his best pitches because of the leg injury or whether it was a confidence issue is up for debate. Hamilton told us that it did take him a while to get comfortable throwing off the mound again but those are the moments that define an aspiring prospect.

The former football player has proven he can make the most out of any situation. Now he needs to raise the bar and elevate his game. The signs and stuff is there and he must simply follow.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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