06/04/2002 2:17 pm ET
Phillies select Hamels in first round
Philadelphia hadn't chosen a LHP first since 1988
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
Phillies round-by-round picks
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies, shaking off injury concerns about Cole Hamels, added to their pitching depth and made the high school
left-hander the 17th overall pick Tuesday in the First-Year Player Draft.
Hamels, who will graduate from prospect factory Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego on June 13, was ranked the
ninth-best prospect by Baseball America.
"We were surprised he was still on the board," said Marti Wolever, Phillies director of scouting. "But I think his injury pushed
him down a little bit and people were concerned about that. We all were hoping he would be there. He was a guy we really wanted and felt
Apparently the 18-year-old would run through a truck to play for the Phillies -- a parked car to be exact. Hamels smacked into the
back of one playing street football with friends. He injured his arm then but did nothing about it. Three weeks later, he broke the humerus
bone in his throwing arm while pitching in a game.
Padres team doctor Jan Fronek performed the surgery on Hamels, who missed his junior season.
"I thought my career would be over but I knew after having the surgery and from the prognosis the doctor gave me that I could
come back even better. He said since I'm still growing, it'll be easier for me to feel stronger and the recovery rate would be a lot better."
Hamels said a phone call from former Devil Rays pitcher Tony Saunders, who broke his arm twice while on the mound, helped
him realize that he could still succeed. Hamels returned to go 10-0 with an 0.39 ERA his senior season, impressing the Phillies with his
94-96 mph fastball and plus curve and change. Still, the pitcher's health may have scared teams away.
"He had surgery and has been fine ever since," said Wolever, who went to see Hamels pitch three times. The Phillies
contacted other team doctors, including Fronek. "He's very proud of his work and says [Hamels] is going to be fine. So we're very
The next hurdle will be signing Hamels and have him start pitching. Wolever plans to fly to the West Coast to meet with the
pitcher, agent John Boggs and the pitcher's family early next week. Last year's 17th overall pick, Dan Denham, received $1.86 million from
the Cleveland Indians.
Wolever said he hopes to have the pitcher signed and pitching by the middle of July, possibly in the Gulf Coast League.
Hamels has a commitment to pitch at the University of San Diego, but said he's eager to sign.
"I really want to start as early as I can," he said.
Until then, he will spend time surfing, bodyboarding and watching one of this idols, Tom Glavine, pitch. He'll also talk Phillies
baseball with high school teammate Jake Blalock, who was chosen by the Phillies in the fifth round. Blalock is the younger brother of
Texas Rangers prospect Hank Blalock.
"Jake and I have been friends since freshman year and have been workout partners," Hamels said. "We've always gotten along
well, so I think that's going to be awesome. He's a tall, big strong guy. He's a stud. I think he'll do pretty well."
Hamels said he waited for Blalock to call him.
"I didn't really want to call Jake because I didn't know when he was going to get picked and didn't want it to be a false phone
call, so he called me and told me the news and I was pretty happy."
If Hamels agrees to terms, he will join Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd, two other high-ceiling pitchers drafted by the Phillies in
1999 and 2001, respectively. The thought of a Hamels-Myers-Floyd trio making up the heart of Philadelphia's rotaton in a few years
almost has Wolever salivating.
"When you think about the Myerses and the Floyds and a lot of the good right-handed pitchers we have in the organization, I
think [Hamels] is a great complement to an already pretty good group," Wolever said. "Makeup-wise, he's right there with them."
Rancho Bernardo HS
Angular, wiry, lean muscles, long extremities. High three-quarter release. Obvious quick, live arm. Natural lefty sink action. Fastball takes off last 10 feet. Occasional 12-6 break on curve. Good follow through and extension out front. Deceptive circle change occasionally backs up. Crafty, mixes pitches well. Excellent mound presence.
Hamels is the first left-handed pitcher selected by the Phillies in the first round since Pat Combs in 1988. The Phillies took
left-hander Mike Martin in 1970 and Phil Meyer in 1967. ... Taber Lee, brother of Phillies first baseman Travis Lee, was selected by the
Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round.
Ken Mandel covers the Phillies for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major
League Baseball or its clubs.