Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels turned in the first dominant outing of the day Thursday, whiffing 14 as Scranton-Wilkes Barre blanked Norfolk, 5-0.
In his Triple-A debut, Hamels allowed just three hits over seven innings and did not walk a batter.
“Cole decided to put on a show today, I guess,” Red Barons pitching coach Rod Nichols said. “He pitched with his fastball and put it where he wanted to. Whenever he had a chance to put a hitter away, it seemed like he did it.”
Hamels’ fastball ranged anywhere from 86-90 mph, topping out at 91. But it was his command and control of the pitch–as well as his ability to throw his curveball and changeup in any count–that allowed him to dominate hitters.
“He’s not overpowering in the typical sense–or at least his stuff wasn’t overpowering today,” Nichols said. “But he’s got some deception in his delivery that allows him to get swing-and-miss ability on all his pitches. And he wasn’t afraid to throw any one of them up there in any situation.”
The Phillies’ No. 1 prospect set the stage for his 14-strikeout performance in the first inning, working out of trouble with Chris Basak on third base and two outs. First baseman Juan Tejeda stepped in, eventually working a 3-2 count. But Hamels didn’t give in, throwing back-to-back changeups and getting Tejeda swinging on the second one.
“That kind of set up his whole day right there,” Nichols said. “After that he was in their heads a little bit and it didn’t stop there–he used his changeup in situations like that all afternoon. His demeanor and poise on the mound were just awesome. He’s a confident young man, and that’s a quality you just can’t teach.”
Hamels threw 66 strikes in 99 pitches. He started the year at high Class A Clearwater–mostly because the club wanted to keep him in a warm weather environment to start the year–where he went 1-1, 1.77 with 29 strikeouts in 20 innings.
The 14 strikeouts set a new record for a lefthander in Scranton Wilkes-Barre history, and were the most recorded against the Tides since Dennis ‘Oil Can’ Boyd fanned 15 in 1984.