Category Archives: South Kitsap

More on Jason Hammel’s resurgence

Yesterday, I had a chance to watch South Kitsap graduate Jason Hammel pitch against the Mariners. He fared well before running into trouble in the seventh inning of a 6-3 loss. Here is the feature I wrote on Hammel, who has been a steady presence on the mound during his first season with the Baltimore Orioles.

Earlier in the week, I asked Jason Churchill of — he also is a scouting analyst for ESPN Insider — to explain Hammel’s turnaround. After all, this is a guy who looked like an average starting pitcher for six seasons with Tampa and Colorado before improving his stats across the board this year.

Here is what Churchill had to say about Hammel:

This year, Hammel clearly has a better plan and it starts with the use of his fastball. He’s throwing few more curveballs early in games to keep hitters off balance and to change their eye levels the first time through the lineup — but the fastball has also ticked up a bit in velocity by almost a full mph, which is significant.

The arm side run on his fastball is prevalent; in past years, that was a straight pitch for Jason and he needed to cross it over to his glove side — in on a left-handed batter, away from a right-hander — to get any sink. In 2012, he’s been using run it back over the outer edge against right-handed hitters early in the count and ties up lefties with it.

When you can do that down in the zone — something Hammel wasn’t doing a year ago as he was up in the strike zone regularly in 2011 — the secondary stuff becomes more effective.

Hammel, simply put, is a completely different pitcher. Even the slider is better this year — after being a flat pitch with little break and no tilt last year, it’s got bite and he’s keeping it down consistently.

As a result, he’s getting ahead and is better equipped to put away hitters when he gets to two strikes. Rather than a full arsenal with a plus fastball, two fringe breaking balls and below average everything else, including command, he’s solid-average across the board to go with the plus fastball.

It’s a bit backwards that he had to come back to the American League, and in the East, no less, to find success. I would venture to suggest that he needed a change of scenery, both literally — getting away from Coors Field where the humidor helps but isn’t a fix for the thin air and spacious pastures — and into an environment of consistency in terms of how he can attack hitters.


Padres tender Cunningham a contract

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham, a South Kitsap grad, was one of 35 unsigned players on the Padres’ 40-man roster who was offered a contract on Monday. Cunningham hit .178 with three home runs and nine RBI in 90 at bats a year ago. The 25-year-old outfielder hit .329 with nine homers and 63 RBI over 384 plate appearances for Tucson in the Pacific Coast League.
Cunningham has spent parts of four seasons in the majors, with Oakland in 2008 and ’09, and with San Diego in 2010 and ’11. His career numbers: .231 with six home runs and 44 RBI in 355 at bats.

Villwock closer to high-points title

South Kitsap graduate Dave Villwock earned win number 64 on Sunday, claiming the H1-Unlimited hydroplane race in San Diego at Bayfair.

Driving the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, Villwock easily held off Kip Brown in the U-17 Miss Red Dot in the final heat in 154.109 mph. Brown finished in 148.149.

Villwock holds the overall points lead with 1,600 as the series heads to Doha, Qatar, Nov. 17-19 for the final race of the season. Steve David of the Oh Boy! Oberto is in second place with 1,425.

Villwock is seeking his first national championship in four years.

Tuesday Links and Updates on Kitsap Athletes

Bremerton’s Marvin Williams sometimes thinks “other people panic more than we do,” he said of all the negative talk about how the Atlanta Hawks were done after a 6-0 start. Read the story here.

Willie Bloomquist, a free agent, continues to be linked to the Washington Nationals. Here’s another story that indicates the Port Orchard native could fit in as a utility player with the Nats. Bloomquist has also been mentioned as the kind of player the Mets might be looking for.

This post on suggests South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham could very likely start the season at Triple-A next year despite playing well for the Padres.

Finally, for the reader who wanted to know about how Central Kitsap grad Todd Linden fared this year in Japan, here’s the finals stats for Tohokou Rakuten Golden Eagles. Linden was injured early and never did get untracked. He hit .185 and played in just 53 games.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association hosts its annual awards banquet on Wednesday at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas. Silverdale’s Randy Corley, once again, is up for announcer of the year. The man with the smooth, velvet voice has done more to put the Kitsap Stampede on the map than anyone. Here’s a full list of nominees. Here’s 10 things you should know about the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which runs Dec. 2-11 in Vegas. All 10 rounds will be broadcast on ESPN2, ESPN Classic or webcast on ESPN3.


Bree Schaaf of Bremerton competes in her second World Cup bobsled race of the year on Friday at Park City, Utah. She’s coming off a sixth-place finish at Whistler, B.C. … Swimmer Nathan Adrian of Bremerton will compete in the U.S. Short-Course Nationals Thursday through Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, and heads to Dubai for the World Short-Course Championships on Dec. 15-19. The University of California senior established himself as one of the elite sprinters in the world and should be among the favorites for a gold medal in 2012 in London in the 50 and 100 freestyle events. …  I’ve been told golfer Troy Kelly is still experiencing some soreness, but is making progress after his hip replacement surgery. The Central Kitsap grad shot a 64 recently at the Plantation Golf Course in Palm Springs, Calif. Here’s some background on Kelly’s surgery, which took place in early September.