Week: 6 G, 20 AB, .600/.680/1.050, 12 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 2 K, 3/3 SB (Triple-A)
2022 Season: 58 G, 213 AB, .272/.333/.465, 58 H, 14 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 17 BB, 57 K, 6/6 SB, .331 BABIP (Triple-A)
Not only did Travis Blankenhorn tear up the baseball diamond while attending Pottsville High School, but he also tore up the hardwood. His final year there was one to remember, as he led the Pottsville boys basketball team to Schuylkill League and District 11 Class AAA championships, scoring 16.6 points per game, recovering 6.7 rebounds per game, and making 2.4 assists per game, led the Pottsville boys baseball team to Schuylkill League and District 11 Class AAA championships, hitting .441/.544 with six doubles, six triples, six home runs, and 13 stolen bases, and became the first baseball player from Schuylkill County to be drafted out of high school in 20 years, being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He had signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Kentucky, but ended up signing with the Twins, accepting their $650,000 bonus to turn pro.
Blankenhorn struggled a bit in the GCL and Appalachian League immediately after being drafted, but when he reported back to the Elizabethton Twins in 2016, he put in the work and began to figure out professional pitching. After crushing the Appy, hitting .297/.342/.558 with 9 home runs in 34 games, he was promoted to the Low-A Cedar Rapid Kernels to finish out the season, where he hit an impressive .286/.356/.418 in 25 games as a 19-year-old. The Twins did not rush his promotion in 2017, keeping him in Low-A, and the decision turned out to be the right one, as Blankenhorn needed time to adjust to more advanced pitching, hitting .251/.343/.441 with 13 home runs in 118 games. He was promoted to the High-A Fort Myers Miracle in 2018 and it became apparent that Blankenhorn was turning into a power-over-hit profile, winning the Florida State League home run derby with an impressive 31 homers but hitting .231/.299/.387 in 124 games on the season.
He returned to Fort Myers to begin the 2019 season but was quickly promoted to the Double-A, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, where he seemed to find balance as a hitter and a slugger. In 93 games with them, he hit .278/.312/.474 with 18 home runs, being named the Southern League Second Baseman of the Year at the conclusion of the season. Blankenhorn was added to the Twins 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft and was expected to be assigned to the Rochester Red Wings for the 2020 season, but thanks to COVID-19, the 2020 season was cancelled. Blankenhorn was sent to the Twins’ alternate spring training site, and in mid-September, got called up to the Twins. He appeared in a single major league game for them on September 15, going 1-3 with a double and hit by pitch.
The 2021 season was a whirlwind for the 24-year-old. He began the season with Minnesota but was claimed off of waivers by not just one team, but three. In early May, he was claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers; in late May, he was claimed by the Seattle Mariners; in early June, he was claimed by the New York Mets. All in all, he played for six teams in 2021, the Minnesota Twins, the New York Mets, the St. Paul Saints, the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Tacoma Rainiers, and the Syracuse Mets. The majority of his season was spent in Syracuse, where he hit .255/.373/.484 in 48 games, slugging 9 home runs, walking 29 times, and striking out 53 times. He competed for playing time in spring training, but was sent to Triple-A Syracuse to start the 2022 season, where he has remained.
Week: 2 G (2 GS), 8.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 12 K (Single-A)
Season: 13 G (13 GS), 57.1 IP, 45 H, 27 R, 25 ER (3.92 ERA), 28 BB, 65 K, .286 BABIP (Single-A)
After lettering twice at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, Dominic Hamel went on to graduate and attend Yavapai College, a community college in Prescott, Arizona. He posted a 2.67 ERA in 67.1 innings in his freshman year and a 3.68 ERA in 73.1 innings in his sophomore year. His peripheral numbers in 2018 were excellent, with 29 walks and 79 strikeouts, but he regressed a bit in 2019, walking 44 and striking out 84. His 2019 sophomore season would end up being his last at Yavapai, as he transferred to Dallas Baptist University for the 2020 season, his junior year.
Appearing as the Patriots’ Sunday starter, Hamel started four games before the NCAA cancelled the remainder for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In those 4 starts, he posted a 4.58 ERA in 19.2 innings, allowing 13 hits, walking 7, and striking out 27. He went undrafted in the 2020 MLB Draft and returned to Dallas Baptist for his senior season. He was the Patriots’ Friday night ace, throwing 91.2 innings with a 4.22 ERA, allowing 68 hits, walking 34, and striking out 136, a Dallas Baptist record and most in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2021 by a wide margin. With their third-round draft pick, the Mets selected Hamel, signing him for $755,300, exactly the MLB-assigned slot value. He made a pair of token appearances for the FCL Mets in 2021, but his career as a professional began in earnest this season.
Undoubtedly, Hamel’s season so far has been a disappointment, especially in the context of expectations due to where he was drafted and his level of experience. While he was never necessarily a dominant pitcher, he performed well enough at Dallas Baptist and the overall level of competition he faced in the Missouri Valley Conference- one of the NCAA’s better mid-level conferences- was higher.
The right-hander certainly has enough tools to succeed. Hamel has a wide arsenal that includes a four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, changeup, curveball, and slider. So far this season, he has used his four-seamer roughly 29% of the time, his slider roughly 20% of the time, his sinker roughly 17% of the time, changeup roughly 10% of the time, his curveball 9% of the time, and his cutter 3% of the time. Hamel has a 29% Called Strike + Wiff Percentage with his four-seamer, 27% with his slider, 27% with his sinker, 25% with his change-up, 32% with his curveball, and 21% with his cutter, so perhaps it would behoove Hamel and the coaches in St. Lucie to tinker and adjust his pitch usage for maximum efficiency.