Tigers in EST: Brandon Hamilton

Much was expected of Brandon Hamilton after he was drafted by the Tigers in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft.  He struggled with his control as an amateur, but he had the raw arm strength and projectability to convince the Tigers’ scouts he was worthy of such a high selection.

Photo courtesy of Delbridge Langdon Jr./The Grand Rapids Press

After signing a professional contract, Hamilton was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Tigers.  He had 7 appearances (5 starts) with the GCL Tigers in 2007, in which he amassed a 3.10 ERA, while racking up 23 strikeouts in 20.1 innings.

Despite the good strikeout rate and ERA, there was cause for concern.  Hamilton’s control was problematic, as he allowed 5.31 walks per nine innings, and he seems to have benefited from some good luck, as his batting average on balls in play was a very low .226.

Hamilton began his 2008 season with the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League.  He struggled with the promotion, seeing his walk rate skyrocket to 7.8 per nine innings, while his strikeout rate dropped to just 6.1 per nine innings.  In July, Hamilton was demoted to the GCL Tigers, where he succeeded in his second tour of duty, posting the best numbers of his career including a 1.86 ERA in 38.2 innings with a 42 to 13 strikeout to walk ratio.

Encouraged by his progress in the Gulf Coast League, the Tigers sent Hamilton back to the Whitecaps in 2009, where his control problems continued to haunt him as he allowed 5.55 walks per nine innings and his ERA ballooned to 7.09.  After beginning the season as a starter, Hamilton was eventually moved to the bullpen.  In his defense, Hamilton was victimized by a high batting average on balls in play (.327), but he still gave up too many walks to have much success.

Hamilton has a strong arm and the ability to throw his fastball in the mid 90s, but his control problems have prevented him from rising above Single A.  Having already proved he can handle the Gulf Coast League, there is a good chance Hamilton will be assigned the the Connecticut Tigers in 2010.

Name: Brandon Hamilton

DOB: Dec. 25, 1988

Drafted: 1st round, 2007

School: Stanhope Elmore High School, Millbrook, Ala.

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