Category Archives: Jason Hammel

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.


Catching up with some familiar faces

Here’s a funny story out of Arizona about how Willie Bloomquist’s teammates like to take advantage of his temper.
Poulsbo’s supercross star Ryan Villopoto is close to winning back-to-back titles.
South Kitsap product Aaron Cunningham is in the running for a bench spot in Cleveland.
South Kitsap’s Jason Hammel is in Baltimore this year, and his last spring training start went well.

Cunningham Gets Best of Fellow SK Grad Hammel on This Night

DENVER —The first pitch was an all-South Kitsap affair at Coors Field on Tuesday night.

Aaron Cunningham was batting leadoff for the first time for the San Diego Padres, and Jason Hammel was on the mound for the Colorado Rockies. Cunningham’s a 2004 SK grad; Hammel a 2000 grad.

Cunningham lashed a line drive single up the middle. He finished 3-for-5 with two singles, a double and scored two runs as the Padres (82-62) opened a 2 1/2-game lead on the Rockies (79-66) in the NL West.

Hammel (10-8) took the loss.

Here’s a story on the Padres’ site before the game on Cunningham batting No. 1 in the order.

The three-hit night raised Cunningham’s average to .327.

Kitsapers in the Pros: Hammel vs. Cunningham Rematch?

Aaron Cunningham vs. Jason Hammel
The South Kitsap grads could face each other again on  Saturday night in Denver when the Colorado Rockies take on the San Diego Padres.
Hammel, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, will start for the Rockies. The 2000 South Kitsap grad beat the Padres at  Petco Field on June 29. Cunningham, a 2004 SK grad, got a pinch-hit single in that game. It’s believed to be the first time a pair of Kitsap County products have ever faced off in a Major League Baseball game.
Hammel and Cunningham are both products of the NWAACC. Hammel was a 10th round pick by the Rays in 2002 after his sophomore yeat at Treasure Valley CC in Ontario, Ore., and Cunningham was a sixth-round pick by the White Sox in 2005 after a dynamite freshman season at Everett CC.
Hammel’s 6-3 with a 4.18 ERA, but is 6-1 with a 2.76 over his last 10 starts, which coincides when he recovered from a groin injury. In those 10 starts, he’s gone 7 or more innings five times and 6 or more eight times. He had 55 Ks and just 14 walks over his last 65 1/3 innings.
Cunningham’s hitting .304 since being called up by the Padres last month. The outfielder has 14 hits in 38 at-bats, including a grand slam homer. He’s currently on a 7-game hitting streak.

Willie Bloomquist, Kansas City Royals
Bloomquist is hitting .231 for the Royals (18-for-78). He’s played in 43 games, most as a defensive replacement. We caught up with the South Kitsap utility player  earlier this week when the Royals were in Seattle, and talked to him about his interest in the bobsled and trade rumors.

Jared Prince, Hickory Crawdads (Class A South Atlantic League)
The outfielder from Poulsbo is hitting .287 with 6 homers, 21 doubles and 48 RBI after 70 games. The Crawdads are a Texas Rangers’ affiliate.