CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The hottest news of the day from the Cincinnati Reds raced into Charleston on the legs of touted prospect Billy Hamilton during the team's annual Reds Caravan stop Thursday night.
The Reds announced Thursday Hamilton, widely known as baseball's fastest player, will start the season with a promotion to play center field for the club's Triple-A Louisville team.
Hundreds of fans gathered to meet Hamilton and fellow Reds players Todd Frazier and Logan Ondrusek as well as other personalities and front office staff at the Town Center Mall.
Hamilton took the center seat on stage Thursday and many Reds fans continue to await his arrival to the big club. Hamilton played shortstop last season between Advanced Single-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, but made the transition to centerfield during a stint in the Arizona Fall League during the offseason.
That's where some prognosticators anticipate Hamilton will debut for Cincinnati in 2014.
"It wasn't a big reaction," Hamilton said when he received the news of his position switch. "I knew I could do it. It wasn't a big deal to me. They told me I was going to be playing there at some time during the year anyway, so when they told me it was official, I was kind of ready for it in a way."
To prepare Hamilton for the big leagues, Cincinnati promoted Hamilton Thursday and extended the speedster an invite to the club's Spring Training camp.
"I was looking forward to it," Hamilton said of the invitation. "I thought maybe I would get there last year but it didn't happen, but this year when they finally told me the other day I was very excited and I knew once I get a - this is my chance to prove what I can do. Knowing that, I have to go out there and work my butt off and it will pay off."
It's unknown how Hamilton will perform in the outfield, but his speed leaves no doubt. Hamilton stole a professional-baseball record 155 bases in 2012 after swiping 103 in 2011.
Can Hamilton surpass his 2012 total this year?
"That's going to be tough, but I'm just going to steal bases," he said. "If it happens, it happens."
While Reds fans await Hamilton's arrival in Cincinnati, another Caravan attendee in Frazier is expected to play a large role this season. How large that role will be depends on third baseman Scott Rolen.