At 23, Hamels is already a long-term keeper 

When Cole Hamels struck out 15 batters in a complete-game, five-hit masterpiece over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, few baseball insiders were surprised.

Despite being just 23 years old, the highly touted Hamels has already displayed an uncanny ability to strike batters out and after polishing his game as a rookie in 2006, he seems poised to establish himself as the Philadelphia Phillies’ No. 1 starter and one of the best young pitchers in the National League.

Last year, Hamels struck out 145 batters in just 132 innings, good for an average of 9.86 K’s per nine innings. This year, Hamels has been a monster, chalking up 33 strikeouts in his first four starts to lead the NL.

After his 4-1 victory over the Reds, Hamels improved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to a stellar 2.57. Entering Thursday’s start, his ERA ranks 15th in the NL and Hamels could very well be 3-0 if his teammates provided some offense in a 3-2 no-decision against the Atlanta Braves on April 4, when he went seven innings without allowing a run.

Not just a relentless power pitcher, Hamels has exhibited plenty of pinpoint precision with his pitches, allowing just six walks through his first 28 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.5-1 ranks in the top 20 in the NL.

Consistency will always be a question mark for young starting pitchers, but Hamels has only one unremarkable start on the year (a six-inning, five-earned run effort against the Houston Astros in which he still got the win) and so far he has been comfortable throwing upward of 100 pitches (a number he has hit in three of four starts). He has proven, by his 28 innings in four appearances, that he has the ability to regularly pitch deep into a game.

His stellar all-around statistics make him a must-have for any fantasy user and, although questions about his experience might have plagued him before the season, any lingering doubts are now long gone.

With his stock rising in many fantasy leagues, Hamels currently ranks among the top 15 for starting pitchers, but with an upside that seems to have no limit, he could easily be in the top 10 by year’s end.


» Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees

» Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox

» B.J. Upton, 2B-3B, Devil Rays

» J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers

» Matt Morris, SP, Giants


» Eric Gagne, RP, Rangers

» Akinori Iwamura, 3B, Devil Rays

» Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners

» Randy Johnson, SP, Diamondbacks

» Gary Sheffield, OF, Tigers

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Will Reisman

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