All hail the anointed ace of the Philadelphia Phillies‘ pitching staff. Yes, Cole Hamels was selected by the college of red pinstriped front office officials this week to become the recognized leader of their starting mound men.
Every hardcore Phillies’ fan knows that the road “Hollywood” took to the East Coast began when he was selected in the first round of baseball’s 2002 amateur draft. From there he went on to appear in a scant 36 minor league games during four summer seasons. However, the careful plan his employer crafted for his development paid off when he made his major league debut during the early part of the 2006 season.
After Hamels’ initially encouraging efforts, he posted a solid sophomore season in 2007. While everyone expected positive results from his left arm in 2008, that baseball year became and remains his defining performance.
Capturing the National League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player Awards is something that only certain players do. Those “certain” players are also referred to as great. Every team needs a number of great players in order to win and he surely fits that description.
The Phillies’ didn’t name Hamels as their 2013 opening-day starter because Roy Halladay is having another rough spring, or because Cliff Lee doesn’t provide the right matchup for that Atlanta Braves‘ assignment.
This approaching honor was telegraphed by last season’s six-year, $144 million contract extension. The clear message was: Hamels is this Phillies’ era’s modern-day “Lefty” (Steve Carlton). When you are that, starting the first game of the season is automatic.