CHICAGO -- White Sox No. 16 prospect Ian Hamilton notched his first career Major League strikeout in his second big league appearance on Sept. 3 against the Tigers' Victor Reyes.Hamilton's first career victory came on Sept. 25 at home against the Indians after Daniel Palka's walk-off single followed exactly one
CHICAGO -- White Sox No. 16 prospect Ian Hamilton notched his first career Major League strikeout in his second big league appearance on Sept. 3 against the Tigers' Victor Reyes.
Hamilton's first career victory came on Sept. 25 at home against the Indians after Daniel Palka's walk-off single followed exactly one pitch thrown by the 23-year-old right-hander.
But the biggest moment of Hamilton's debut season came on Sept. 19 at Progressive Field, when Jason Kipnis hit a walk-off grand slam and erased a 1-0 White Sox lead during Hamilton's first save opportunity. Rather, it might have been the greatest teaching experience.
"That's what I'll probably remember until next season," said Hamilton with a wry smile during a recent interview.
"I definitely learned, 'Don't just throw a changeup right down the middle of the plate, especially to a veteran hitter,'" Hamilton continued. "But I've learned that you don't want to feel like that again. Kind of looking back on that, if I had to redo it again, I would probably step off, take an extra second and go back into it. I'm not mad about any of that. Just kind of a learning experience."
Over 10 appearances during the 2018 campaign, Hamilton posted a 4.50 ERA with five strikeouts and two walks in eight innings. The 11th-round pick out of Washington State in the 2016 Draft gained valuable high-leverage experience beyond Kipnis' infamous connection.
Some in the organization have talked about Hamilton as a late-inning hurler, if not a closer, of the future. And pitching with the game on the line is the only thing Hamilton has dreamed about since he picked up a baseball.
"Oh, yeah. I love that," said Hamilton of closing. "That's one of the best positions in baseball. Almost in play pretty much every day.
"It's like being in that situation, it's a different feel, going into the game like that, knowing it's one to three runs compared to just coming in in the middle of the game. You still get an adrenaline rush, but it's a way different feel."
Hamilton's jump to the Majors on Aug. 31 completed his single-season rise from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte, where he recorded a combined 22 saves, a 1.74 ERA and 62 strikeouts against 16 walks in 51 2/3 innings. Hamilton figures to break camp with the White Sox in 2019 and be part of the immediate late-innings mix.
If Hamilton lands in the closer's role he craves, the right-hander will have that Kipnis walk-off grand slam stored away as part of his development process.
"I've learned you have to make pitches and you have to really be locked in, like every single day you come in," Hamilton said. "Your number can get called pretty much any day, any time. So just being like more prepared for the game, pretty much.
"Being young, you want to see how you handle anything. I'd love to come out on top of that, but at the same time it's like, now I know what that feels like, being the lowest part of that and if I get in that situation again, I kind of have that insight, kind of now I know what I should do."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.