02 June, 2006

MLB debuts - Jason Hammel

Tall guys.

Back on 10 April the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays called up 6 foot 6 inch right handed pitcher Jason Hammel promoted to replace 6'9" Mark Hendrickson, who went on the DL. Hammel to make MLB debut in Hendrickson's place.

In his first start for AAA Durham on 7 April, Hammel pitched five shutout innings versus the Norfolk Tides. However, he got bombed in his debut for the (Devil) Rays on 11 April against the Orioles. Hammel gave up 7 runs on 8 hits, including a Miguel Tejada homer, and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.

"After the first couple innings I felt pretty confident," said Hammel, slated to pitch again Sunday. "I'm disappointed with the outcome. I'm definitely looking forward to the next one."

He pitched much better in his second start on 16 April which the (Devil) Rays won 9-5 over Kansas City. The tall guy lasted 5 innings, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits, including a homer, walking 3 and striking out 4. He left the game with the score tied at 3.

After two starts Hammel was demoted back to Durham with reliever Chad Orvella taking his place. In any event, Hammel was brought up only as an emergency replacement for Hendrickson.

Tampa appears to go for large body specimens. Apart from Hendrickson and Hammel, they've got 6'6" Seth McClung and the club's top prospect coming into the season was 6' 9" Jeff Niemann, a first round pick out of Rice University last year. With his size, you'd hardly expect Hammel to be a soft tosser. He's got a live fastball topping out at about 94mph. His curve is 15mph slower, but scouts say his improving changeup is his better second pitch. That figures to be a good combination and the (Devil) Rays obviously hope he'll fill a rotation spot either later this year or next.

Hammel had a breakout year in 2004, though he was repeating in the Sally League. In 2005 he split time between AA Montgomery, where he continued his progress and AAA Durham. His control seemed to diminish at AAA, probably an adjustment to smarter hitters. John Sickels likes his chances though adds that like many tall guys Hammel has suffered problems with his mechanics.

Oh, Hammel's replacement? Only 5'10". Let's hear it for small guys!

Update: Hammel is 3-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 9 starts at Durham.

Baseball Cube


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