Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Coming out of Stanhope Elmore High School in Alabama, Hamilton was the classic raw power arm from the prep ranks. The Tigers selected Hamilton in the supplemental first round with the 60th overall pick and hopes of turning his raw potential into an MLB prospect.
The Tigers assigned the 18-year old prospect to the Gulf Coast League for his professional debut, after signing for a reported $540,000. In 20 1/3 innings of work for the GCL Tigers, Hamilton posted a solid 3.10 ERA, allowed only 12 hits, walked 12, and struck out 23.
After a strong professional debut, the Tigers were aggressive with Hamilton in 2008, pushing him to West Michigan to open the season, but he was soon back down in the Gulf Coast League for further seasoning. On the season, in 32 1/3 innings with the Whitecaps, Hamilton managed only a 5.01 ERA and a 28:22 strikeout to walk ratio. Once back down in the GCL, Hamilton resumed his domination, posting a 1.86 ERA in nine outings, while striking out 42 batters against just 13 walks in 38 2/3 innings of work.
Hamilton was again back in West Michigan for the 2009 season, and he struggled yet again with full-season ball; posting an ugly 7.09 ERA in 99 innings on the hill. Hamilton was both hittable and wild, giving up 112 base hits and 61 walks, while striking out 71.
Brandon has been a regular participant in the organization's annual Fall Instructional League, as he tries to get things in order and capitalize on his immense potential. Reports were strong coming out of Lakeland last October, and there is hope he may finally be ready to take the next step in his development.
The entirety of Hamilton's scouting report boils down to his ability to repeat his mechanics, and thereby control his fastball. Hamilton releases high over the top and has significant effort in his delivery, though his arm action is still solid. He uses his entire body to generate plus velocity, sitting at 94-95 and touching 96 regularly. Both his four- and two-seam fastball are plus pitches on velocity and movement alone.
Command often escapes Hamilton, but when his mechanics are right, he shows flashes of at least being able to throw strikes consistently, something that would dramatically improve his prospect status. There are continuing tweaks to his delivery, largely with where he starts on the rubber, that have been a stumbling block to date, and some believe that if he was just left to throw it his way, he may be able to take off.
Hamilton has one of the organization's best curveballs with true downer movement, and it can be a completely devastating pitch when his mechanics are right. He also features a change-up that has flashed as an average pitch at times.
Hamilton is an easy-going guy with a calm demeanor on the mound, though he is an intense competitor and his desire to win/succeed can get the best of him at times. Given his command problems and his raw stuff, there are many scouts that would like to see Hamilton converted to a pure late inning reliever sooner than later. He could excel in either a setup or closer role, and it could allow him to move through the system quickly.
To see Weber in action, view the scouting video below:
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
The only injury problems that have plagued Hamilton in his career have been an oblique problem that cropped up to start the 2008 season. Though his workloads have been relatively light, the effort in Hamilton's delivery has not led to any arm trouble to date. A move to the bullpen and a further lightening of his load could help ensure that doesn't happen in the future.
There's no telling where Hamilton will start the 2010 season. Logic says he is a candidate to return to West Michigan or with a strong spring, he could get his first shot at Lakeland despite his lack of success in 2009. Scouts are nearly unanimous in their belief that the best thing for Hamilton's development would be a concrete move to the bullpen this year. If that happens, and he settles into some reasonably consistent mechanics, Hamilton could absolutely tear through the lower ranks of the organization. His fastball-curveball combination is top notch, and there is no telling when everything will click and send him flying.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.