When Ian Hamilton left Pullman after a great run at Washington State University, the hard-throwing righty was the programs all-time saves leader. The White Sox thought enough of Hamilton to select him in the 11th round, a solid investment for a pure reliever. But after a freak 2019 season and a white Sox team in win now mode, the team DFA’d Hamilton earlier this month and today, the Seattle Mariners were awarded him via waivers.
Ian Hamilton, who was the 17th ranked prospect in the White Sox farm system (MLB Pipeline) will likely find himself somewhere in the the 25-35 range. For a reliever to crack the Top 30 of a good farm system, he needs to bring something special to the table. For Hamilton, his 95 MPH running fastball certainly qualifies. Hamilton has a bit of an extended arm motion, as seen below, which creates interesting angles, helping the fastball that has touched triple digits play up even more.
Hamilton backs up the heater with a solid-average slider that flashes plus at times. Occasionally, the pitch can get more loopy and look more like a slurve, but the Mariners clearly like what they’ve seen from Hamilton.
He’s a pretty good athlete with a solid build and was an extreme strike thrower in the minors in 2018 and 2019. Hamilton lost most of 2019 after suffering a shoulder injury in a car accident and was later struck in the wrist by a line drive, costing him the rest of 2019. Hamilton got a small cup of coffee with the Sox in both in 2018 and 2020, but should enter the off-season as a potential late-inning reliever.
Hamilton will need to earn his spot in the spring, but there is definitely some Austin Adams to Hamilton’s game. A plus fastball combined with a good secondary offering and fringe-average command is always going to make for an interesting bullpen candidate and the Mariners will certainly have the opportunity to offer Hamilton. It is worth noting that Hamilton also has two remaining options years, so they can stash him in AAA if he doesn’t win a job in spring training.