WooSox’s Ryan Fitzgerald has an interesting way of describing Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran’s running style.
“People tell me when I run, I look like I’m mad at the ground and I beat up the ground with my feet,” Duran said. “I’ve seen it. And Fitzy makes fun of me. He says I run like a lizard that runs on water, like crazy. But Hammy just glides.”
Gliding David “Hammy” Hamilton is the fastest prospect in the Red Sox organization. He has 11 steals in 18 games for Triple-A Worcester so far this season. He set Double-A Portland’s single-season franchise record for steals with 70 in 119 games last season.
The new rules in Major League Baseball (larger bases, pitch clock, pitchers being allowed to disengage the rubber only twice per plate appearance) put a premium on speed and have increased Hamilton’s value.
“There are guys that run hard and look hard but then there’s guys who can just glide and look so effortless (like Hamilton),” Duran said.
So who is faster: Duran or Hamilton?
“I feel like he might get me but you never know,” Duran admitted.
Of note, there are lizards that run on water. Check out this National Geographic video of a basilisk lizard, also known as the Jesus Christ Lizard.
The Red Sox acquired Hamilton in the Hunter Renfroe trade Dec. 1, 2021. The Red Sox received Hamilton, Jackie Bradley Jr. and prospect Alex Binelas from the Brewers.
“Every time he walked or singled, I’m like, ‘We might as well write a double in the book.’ Because he was going or stealing on whatever pitch was coming,’” said Duran, who spent part of April in Worcester with Hamilton.
Hamilton is not only doing it with his legs. The 25-year-old shortstop/second baseman is 22-for-69 (.319) with a .385 on-base percentage, .565 slugging percentage, .950 OPS, four homers, three doubles, one triple, 11 RBIs, 13 runs, seven walks and 12 strikeouts in 18 games for Worcester.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to play with him an extended amount of time,” Duran said. “And he’s a stud. I played against him in college in our super regional. He went to Texas. So I played against both him and Sugar (Worcester pitcher Chase Shugart).”
Duran’s Long Beach State team beat Texas in the 2017 super regionals.
“He’s so good with his effort level,” Duran added about Hamilton. “He doesn’t look like he’s ever trying too hard. He’s always really simple and he rakes. He’s an absolute stud, especially at shortstop. He has an absolute cannon.”
Boston added Hamilton to the 40-man roster in November, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft. The Red Sox viewed his speed and defense as too valuable not to protect him.
“He’s got the innate ability to steal,” Worcester manager Chad Tracy said. “He can just outrun the ball. There’s not many people like him out there.”
Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said during spring training, “You look at his profile, there’s not a lot of people who do those things as well as he does in all of baseball. I think he has some qualities and has some tools that can’t be taught and that will be more impactful as some of the rule changes and things are adjusted.”
The speedy Sox
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has added speed to the organization.
Three of the four top base stealers in the organization — Hamilton (11), Max Ferguson (8) and Corey Rosier (8) — were acquired via trade. Boston acquired Ferguson and Rosier from the Padres in the Eric Hosmer trade at last year’s deadline.
Minor league free agent signee Greg Allen has nine steals for Worcester.
Christian Koss, who Boston acquired from the Rockies in December 2020 for pitcher Yoan Aybar, has five steals for Portland.
The Red Sox have 12 minor leaguers with five or more steals. Tyler McDonough, a 2021 third-round draft pick, has five steals for High-A Greenville. Phillip Sikes, an 18th-round pick in 2021, has five steals for Portland. Roman Anthony, the 79th overall pick in the 2022 Draft, has five steals for Low-A Salem.