Name: Dominic Hamel
Weight: 205 lbs.
Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft, 3rd Round (Dallas Baptist University)
2022 Stats: 25 G (24 GS), 119.0 IP, 83 H, 46 R, 43 ER (3.25 ERA), 54 BB, 145 K, .281 BABIP (Low-A/High-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 the 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.
Hamel threw a handful of innings that summer with the FCL Mets, but his professional career began in earnest in 2022. Assigned to the St. Lucie Mets along with the many other college pitchers that the Mets drafted in the rounds following Hamel’s selection, the right-hander posted a 3.84 ERA in 63.1 innings over 14 games with 48 hits allowed, 29 walks, and 71 strikeouts. He was promoted to the Cyclones in early July and finished the season in Brooklyn, posting a 2.59 ERA in 55.2 innings over 11 games with 35 hits allowed, 25 walks, and 74 strikeouts. All in all, the right-hander had a successful season, posting a combined 3.25 ERA in 119.0 innings, allowing 83 hits, walking 54, and striking out 145, the most by a minor leaguer in the entire organization in 2022.
Standing 6’2” and weighing 205-pounds, Hamel has a solid pitching frame. He logged nearly 100 innings in 2021, over 100 innings in 2022, and should easily be able to handle a starter’s workload in the future. The right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot, with a long action through the back. He drops and drives off the mound with a low release point and a bit of crossfire. These mechanics are not inherently problematic in relation to his control, but his command occasionally comes and goes based on how his different pitches are moving on any given appearance.
The Dallas Baptist University baseball program is one known to be on the cutting edge of accepting and utilizing advanced analytic baseball data, and Dominic Hamel certainly benefitted. Though his four-seam fastball always had average-to-above-average velocity for a high school and college pitcher, averaging 92 MPH and ranging 91-94 MPH, it was the coaching staff at Dallas Baptist that highlighted that it was the pitch’s high spin rate that really is what made it effective and worked with the right-hander to change his mechanics to amplify the effects of the pitch. With an average spin rate of roughly 2460 RPM and a peak measured as high as 2560 RPM, the pitch has an above-average, borderline elite spin for a fastball, almost 200 RPM higher than the major league average in 2022. Thanks to his low release point, the pitch has a low vertical approach angle and is especially effective up in the zone. Hamel also has a two-seam fastball that sits in roughly the same velocity band with additional sink and run. Complementing his fastball, the right-hander has a full assortment of secondary pitches: a slider, curveball, and changeup.
Hamel’s best secondary pitch is his slider. The pitch sits in the low-80s, 82-85 MPH and features between 2700-2900 RPM of gyroscopic spin, giving the pitch anywhere between 31-38 inches of vertical drop and 0-10 inches of horizontal movement. He generally works down and away with the pitch but is confident enough to backfoot it to hitters. His curveball sits in the mid-70s, 71-77 MPH and features between 2600-2900 RPM of spin, giving it anywhere between 64-70 inches of vertical drop and 8-15 inches of horizontal movement. He does not use the big loopy curve much and struggles commanding it thanks to the massive amount of drop it has, generally using it to change the hitter’s eye level and set up his next pitch.
His changeup is the least effective of his pitches, a firm pitch that ranges 83-87 MPH, sitting 84 MPH. The pitch does not have much velocity separation as compared to his fastball and has floaty arm-side break. Hamel does not throw the pitch much, but does have a feel for it. He improved the pitch exponentially during his time at Dallas Baptist as compared to his time on the mound prior and could theoretically develop it into something more in the future.
An older pitcher from a high-caliber college program, Hamel hasn’t had as much success against lower level minor league competition as you’d want to see. He was better in the second half, perhaps needing some additional time to acclimate himself to life as a pro, but what pitcher hasn’t put up better numbers in Brooklyn? His stuff moves a lot, which is both a blessing and a curse. He led the system in strikeouts last year but he also issued more free passes than almost any other starter in the system. The 2023 season will be a big test for him.
My bold prediction on Hamel didn’t work out last year, but he had an impressive 2022 nonetheless. His analytics-friendly fastball dominated A-ball batters. His slider, meanwhile, emerged as his best secondary pitch. Those two offerings alone could give him enough to work in relief in short order. Right now, he’s still struggling with command and a changeup as a starter, things he certainly should have time to improve on. Double-A should be an illuminating test as to his most likely future role.
Hamel put up some gaudy strikeout numbers in 2023, striking out over a quarter of the batters he faced in 63.1 innings pitched with St. Lucie, and more than a third of the batters he faced in 55.2 inning pitched for Brooklyn after a mid-season promotion. With the strikeouts came some command issues, as Hamel walked more than 10% of the batters he faced in 2023. Moving forward, Hamel will need to work on refining his command and allowing fewer base runners if he wants to avoid a shift to the bullpen in the upper minors.
Spin-rate extraordinaire Dominic Hamel had a solid first half of the year at Single-A, but he really burst onto the scene with his High-A Brooklyn performance. He went 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA while striking out 33% of the batters he faced. The walks are still an issue—he had a walk rate over 10% at both levels—but the stuff popped in the latter half of the year.