By Jeff Louderback
The Red Sox announced the signing of a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder on Friday, but the void for a player who fits that description on the 25-man roster remains.
Mark Hamilton, who was a second round pick in 2006 out of Tulane University by the St. Louis Cardinals, signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox.
Over seven minor league seasons – all spent in the Cardinals organization – Hamilton has a .277 average and a .832 OPS. In four seasons at Triple-A Memphis, he has hit .291 with a .879 OPS, including 15 home runs and 51 RBI in 359 plate appearances last season before his release in August.
Though Hamilton has belted 89 home runs in 2,414 minor league plate appearances – including 20 in 2010 – he has yet to collect his first Major League dinger through 66 plate appearances with the Cardinals in 2010 and 2011
Hamilton is primarily a first baseman, but he can also play the corner outfield spots. He represents power-hitting depth at Triple-A Pawtucket along with the right-handed hitting Mauro Gomez.
Earlier this offseason, Boston also signed veteran first baseman/outfielder Mitch Maier to a minor league deal.
Since Gomez is the reigning International League Most Valuable Player and also recently earned MVP honors in the Dominican Winter League – and he showed promise in his stint with the Red Sox last season – chances are Maier and Hamilton will compete for one roster spot at Pawtucket.
The Red Sox also have outfielder/DH J.C. Linares, who has a strong right-handed bat and can proficiently play all three outfield spots, so there is DH depth at Pawtucket.