School: Tulane University
Selected 2010 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (29): The former Tulane product has been a steady offensive player since joining the Cardinals in 2006. Unfortunately, trials at other positions have failed and he looks pigeonholed at first base. If he demonstrated more versatility, he could be an interesting bat off the bench for Tony La Russa.
Hamilton shows polish and maturity at the plate. The 26-year-old has good pitch recognition and is not afraid to go the other way. With a slight uppercut in his swing, he is able to get loft on the ball and drive it out of the ballpark.
ZIPS projects him to post an OPS of .740 if he makes the big leagues in 2011 which is better than projected for incumbent third baseman David Freese.
Message board community (11): Mark Hamilton was the community's 11th prospect, rising from last year's 16th spot. Hamilton has had difficulties staying healthy. In the last three seasons, he has maxed out at 94 games, with an average of 82.
Hamilton, a left-handed hitter, struggles against lefty pitching. In 2010, he managed an OPS of only .615 against them in 71 at-bats. And he's stuck playing first base behind some guy named Pujols. The former second-round pick turned 26 in July. But my word, can Hamilton pound righty pitching! Last season, he posted an OBP of .420, SLG of .690 vs. right-handers in 187 at-bats. And his overall OPS improved after the all-star break to 1.046 from a solid .840 before the break.
He started getting community votes at the #4 position, and there was some praise by a member who has watched him for his swing. Hamilton played five games in left field last year. I suspect he will end up trade bait if Albert is resigned. But I'd love to see a power lefty bat like his coming off the bench and getting spot starts in left field and at first base. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (17): I am in the middle ground of the voters here while still having moved Hamilton up two spots on my list from one year ago. Ranking him in this context means his defensive position and therefore, his ultimate potential in the Cardinals system cannot be ignored, however.
Hamilton appears to be blocked from having a realistic chance of making the major league roster. While some may consider him an inexpensive insurance policy, I can't see the club turning to him in the unlikely event of a serious Pujols injury. If there was any doubt about this previously, the signing of Lance Berkman put an exclamation point on it.
I think of Hamilton as an asset that may have reached its peak value. We've seen similar situations in the recent past in which the Cardinals may have held onto a prospect too long. Bryan Anderson is one such example.
I get a similar feeling with Hamilton, accentuated by his age, already noted above as 26. Keeping Memphis competitive is good, but if instead a future major league part could be acquired via trade, it would seem even better for both the player and organization.
Our 2011 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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