That King Cole
If the Greatest Prospect in the History of Major League Baseball was any sort of secret at the beginning of the season, those days are gone, long gone, much like no. 713 was Sunday night at the Cit.
Aside from a large crop of stories this week following his third straight mucho impressario outing for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Cole Hamels has become the stuff of legend in the blogosphere, the mainstream media, and even on the radio. En route to a fortuitous lunch time meet-up with a fellow DC based baseball fan, Hamels became the subject of discussion on the Fantasy Focus radio show on XM Channell 174. Some dude called up asking if it was a wise idea to pick up Hamels immediately and stash him away. The answer was yes -- an answer so last week for us when we nabbed as the secret weapon in our CBS Sportsline League.
As far as the real world, however, things couldn't be more encouraging. For the second straight week, Hamels was named International League Player of the Week. In addition, he was named the top prospect in all of minor league baseball. His stats are pretty well documented pretty well everywhere else. Right now, he is the organization's Dontelle Willis in Steve Carlton's clothing. Sooner or later, the Phils almost have to make a spot for him. What change is made will be the subject of debate up until and even after the moment that change is actually made.
Currently, Pat Gillick is on record as saying he wants to see Hamels rebound from getting roughed up to get a sense of his emotiional resiliency (translation: "I got one softy already soft-tossing on the big club, I can't hadnle another.") Gillick has a reputation as a patient man -- would he care to make it interesting? The thought is, this roughing may not happen in the minors at all, at least for another month. While Hamels has thusfar faced relative subpar competition in the International League, it ain't going to get much tougher in the near future. Scranton, currently in first in their division, does not have a many bumps on the schedule at the tail end of Spring. If the rotation holds, Hamels' next four starts would be:
May 12 vs Ottawa
May 17 at Rochester
May 23 vs Indianapolis (assuming no rotation skip for day off)
May 28 vs Louisville (sunday)
Of those starts, second-place Rochester (17-12) appears to be the toughest game, both because it's the only one on the road and rochester is second in the league in team batting average. All four teams, however, are in the lower half of the standing in slugging percentage and OPS. So, exactly what kind of test Gillick expects is anyone's guess. The best team in the IL, Charlotte, currently riding a 12-game win streak and a league best 24-6 record, doesn't show up on the schedule until mid-June. If everything stays on rotation, Hamels would get the first game of that set, June 13 at home.
That would be awful long time to wait just to see if the league's best team can touch the country's top-rated prospect.