Grading The Top Ten: Cole Hamels

The Phillies had hoped that Cole Hamels would be a big part of their rotation this season. While he hasn't been a big part of the mix so far, there is still time for him to leave his mark on the 2006 season in Philadelphia.

Cole Hamels hasn't had any back issues, hasn't shown any ill effects from previous injuries and has been returned to his dominant form. He was so dominant in fact, that he found his way from starting the season at Clearwater to suddenly skipping AA and moving to AAA for a brief stint before debuting in Philadelphia. A "pop" in his shoulder caused some concern, but all appears well and he's going to be back in the Phillies' rotation after missing just a couple of starts.

To say the least, the season has been encouraging for Hamels in that he's remained relatively healthy. The main concern has been - and likely always will be - his back, but even that hasn't been an issue. Hamels has special exercise routines that he does to strengthen his back and has done them religiously, knowing that if his back becomes a chronic issue, it will be bad news for him. His approach to the exercises and his general attitude toward the game and his development have shown a marked increase in his maturity. In the past, Hamels hid injuries and insisted he could pitch through them. To his credit, he went immediately to the trainers when he felt the slightest twinge in his shoulder and the Phillies were able to take a cautious approach with their budding superstar.

On the mound, Hamels has been simply what the Phillies expect. A young left-hander that figures to be able to move toward the top of the rotation in very short order. He was dominant at Clearwater and got even stronger when he went to AAA. His major league outings have been what the Phillies expected and figure to get even better once he adjusts and is able to pitch deeper into ball games. It figures that Hamels is in the majors to stay, marking the beginning of the Cole Hamels Era.

Climbing the ladder in 2006

PHILLIES 0 0 3.18 2 2 11.1 6 4 4 9 12 1
Scranton 2 0 0.39 3 3 23.0 10 1 1 1 36 0
Clearwater 1 1 1.77 4 4 20.1 16 8 4 9 29 0
*Lakewood 0 0 1.59 1 1 5.2 3 1 1 2 3 1
TOTALS 3 1 1.49 10 10 60.1 35 14 10 21 80 2

* Hamels' one start at Lakewood was on a rehab assignment.

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