Sunday, May 25, 2008

Coming a long way

Almost a decade ago, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had a choice of a hard throwing right hander out of a Texas high school or an outfielder out of North Carolina that was called ""The Natural,"" with the number one overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft. At the time the Rays selected the outfielder from North Carolina Josh Hamilton while the Marlins picked Josh Beckett.

At the time, scouts around Major League Baseball expected Hamilton to be one of the next big things. According to the Baseball America 2002 Prospect guide Hamilton was expected to set baseball on fire. At the time he was rate the top prospects in the Rays system and in the top 20 overall.

"""A five-tool player Hamilton is excepted to excel at all phases of the game,'' his scouting report said. ""He has outstanding power potential with great leverage, quick swing, and an ideal body.''

But for the for the first six years of his career, it looks like Hamilton would never measure up to his high school exploits, but this year that has all changed. During the first six years of his career, Hamilton battled substance abuse including a heroin addiction and at times talked openly about ending his life. Last year the Rays left him off their 40 man roster and the Red took a chance on him and it paid off for everyone involved as Hamilton showed he was done with drugs and was moving forward with his career. At the end of last season, the Reds decided to move the tattooed one to the Texas for Edinson Volquez.
Since his trade to the Rangers, Hamilton has looked like Roy Hobbs, at this point in the season he has as many home runs as he has tattoos, which is a lot. He might be heading for the triple crown and not the triple crow of drug addiction.

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