Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hamels' Health

Phillies SP prospect Cole Hamels' health will surely be a much talked about topic over the course of the spring training. Why wait until Thursday when pitchers and catchers actually report to get talking about it though? Todd Zolecki of the Inquirer (first quote) and Marcus Hayes of the Daily News (second quote) both agree - writing positive stories about how Cole Hamels' back feels while in sunny Florida is about a billion times nicer than reporting from frigid Philadelphia on such fun topics like wondering which Flyer will have to pull out of the Olympics next or trying to figure out why the Sixers couldn't trick New Orleans into taking Steven Hunter after all (anybody else think the Hornets were seriously worried about Hunter's "health"? Yeah, maybe if "health" means "ability to play basketball"). Anyway, back to Clearwater and Cole...

Lefthander Cole Hamels said his back feels fine, and he hopes to be pitching in spring-training games by the second week of March. Hamels had to be shut down for a few weeks recently because of back problems, but he said he has received positive signs from trainer Jeff Cooper.

Hamels, 22, was a first-round pick in the 2002 draft. He is expected to open the season at double-A Reading.

Sounds good to me, Todd. Oh by the way, isn't this so true? Good call, Beerleaguer. Anyway, back to Cole...again. Marcus, care to add anything else to the discussion?

Hamels had no pain in his chronically troublesome back.
"I feel great," said Hamels, who has yet to return to full speed after the most recent flare-up of the stress reaction in his lower back that he has fought since 2003. He underwent an MRI exam on Feb. 1 that showed no further damage and has been working back into shape.

Hamels, a 6-3 lefty with a devastating changeup that helped make him the Phillies' first-round pick in 2002, said he feels well enough to go full-bore. That would make him ready for tomorrow's reporting date and could have him ready to fight for a spot in the rotation when Grapefruit League games begin March 2... except team medical personnel won't let him go full-bore.

"My arm feels incredible. I'm ready to go right now," Hamels said, "but they're like, 'Not yet.' " Hamels, 22, predicted he would be able to pitch in games during the second week of spring training at the earliest.

Seems like things are running quite smoothly down there in Clearwater thus far. Hopefully this promising start leads to bigger and better things for both Cole Hamels and the Phillies in 2006.


Anonymous braveswin said...

If Hamels stays healthy and pitches really well he'll defintely get a few starts in Philly this year.

With that so, he should be a shoe in for the '07 rotation.

Here's some more prospects to analyze if you don't mind:

OF-Jorge Padilla-any relation to Vicente?
C-Jason Jaramillo-Leiberthal's protege?

8:35 AM  
Anonymous braveswin said...

I forgot to add something else from my previous post. I just found out this week that Adam Eaton was once a Philly prospect. Hopefully that doesn't hit a sour note but,if so it's unintentional.

Now he's at a pitcher heavy Rangers team that hopes to contend for a whole season.

What are your thoughts on him?

1:41 PM  
Blogger gr said...

hamels has pitched a handful of games at AA. let's not get carried away here. he's got great raw talent but we shouldn't gavin floyd him.

5:22 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

I'm not sure who exactly is getting carried away with Cole Hamels here - I'd personally rather not see him pitch in the big leagues at all in '06, but the idea that Phillies management has considered him to be capable of seeing the bigs some time in '06 seems evident to me in all that I've read on the subject. Who really knows though?

Ideally, Hamels stays healthy all season long and splits his time between Reading and, come early July maybe if all goes well, Scranton. 19 AA innings isn't enough and it may very well be beneficial for him to spend all of '06 in Reading, but if maintains numbers like he has in the past (sub 2.50 ERAs, over a strikout an inning) then I'm not sure pitching against overmatched hitters will really help his overall long-term development.

I love the use of "gavin floyd" as a verb by the way - good call.

12:29 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

The mere mention of Adam Eaton burns - the Phils gave him up (along with Carlton Loewer ad Steve Montgomery) to pick up the number two starter that was going to team up with staff ace Curt Schilling and push the 2000 Phillies over the top...Andy Ashby. Needless to say, this was a move the Phils would come to regret. Ashby sucked as a Phil (5.68 ERA in 101.1 innings, flipped off fans on more than one occasion after getting pulled from games) and the later spun him to the Braves for the legendary Bruce Chen and Jimmy Osting.

I thought the Rangers gave up too much to get him this offseason, but he is still a good addition to their rotation. I like Eaton more than most, but I see much of his success in '06 being dependent on keeping his K rate up. His stuff should generate more groundball outs than it does - getting more grounders than his 1.02 career GO/AO ratio will be very important now that he is playing in Arlington and not San Diego.

All in all, I think he'll have a year much like Vicente Padilla will have (Millwood, Eaton, and Padilla - 3 former Phils in that Texas rotation, crazy). By that I mean he'll have a better season than last year though it may not show up directly in his stats - pitching in Texas and going to the AL will surely affect his numbers, but when the dust settles I think he'll have pitched his best ball this season.

I'd love to get into Jorge Padilla and Jason Jaramillo in more depth (prospect talk is my favorite), but I'm running short on time now. I think both project as eventual major league reserves - Padilla is so much of an unknown after missing time last year due to injury and Jaramillo will face a big test when he faces AA pitching in Reading for the first time.

I give Padilla a 20% shot of holding down a major league bench job someday. He is one of the harder players to prognosticate for and I really don't know what his future holds. His power has been a huge disappointment and he is at a make or break point in his career - he is 26 years old and turns 27 in August. It would be nice to see some team see enough in him to pick him up and let him roam the outfield as the 5th OF, but I'm not optimistic about his future.

Jaramillo has been a far more impressive hitter than I expected. He has shown good contact ability and surprising gap power. His defense is so good that he won't have to hit a ton to reach the majors some day - an optimistic projection would be something along the lines of a .280 hitter with 10 homers and 25 doubles or so. This year is the big test for him as he is a prospect with plenty of college experience and was somewhat expected to handle the transition to the pros like he did. Now he has to deal with AA pitching at some point in '06 and see if his early professional progress with the bat was real or not.

Jaramillo is 23 year old and should move quickly through the system. If he spent the majority of '06 in AA with maybe a late season callup to AAA, I'd be happy. With a good 2006 season, he should be in the mix in 2007 for what should be a wide open Phils starting catching spot.

To compare him to some Braves top catching prospects is interesting. Obviously McCann and Saltalamacchia are superior players and, even though he is further from the bigs, I'd take Max Ramirez over Jaramillo anyday. The more I think about it, the more I think that Brayan Pena is a great comparison to Jaramillo.

Pena was a 22-year old in AA in 2004 - he hit an impressive enough .314/.349/.401. Jaramillo would do well to do the same in AA as a 23-year old in '06. Check out JJ's career minor league line so far - .290/.355/.410. That's very similar to Pena's AA season, not to mention his overall minor league line (.304/.357/.387).

JJ and Pena are both good defensive catchers though I'd put Jaramillo in a different class though, as he is supposedly a plus-plus defender. Pena strikes out less than JJ, but doesn't quite have the power potential Jaramillo has either. They are both switch hitters with similar builds and should both have long careers in the major leagues one way or another. The big difference could be opportunity - as stated earlier, Jaramillo could have a shot to make the team and contribute in '07. Pena is blocked or surrounded in the Braves organization by McCann, Salty, Ramirez...even Todd Pratt at the big league level.

I'm sure I rambled on there, but as a thought popped into my head I just spat it out. Hopefully that all makes at least a little bit of sense.

1:15 AM  

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