Hammel signs with Devil Rays

Jason Hammel can now throw himself into the mix of other former South Kitsap High School baseball standouts now playing professionally.

The 2000 graduate singed with the Major League Tampa Bay Devil Rays Monday.

He joins 1993 graduate Sean Spencer and 1996 graduates Willie Bloomquist and Jason Ellison as current professional baseball players.

Hammel considered playing pro ball after high school, but opted for the draft and follow program at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore.

Hammel said the decision paid off huge dividends.

Though he had 6-6 frame, he weighed only 170 pounds coming out of high school.

Two years later, Hammel said he’s a changed man.

“I’ve put on about 30 pounds (since high school) and my velocity has jumped,” Hammel said. “In high school I was throwing 85 to 86 (mph) but now I am consistently throwing 90 to 91. I maxed out at 94.”

Hammel said an off-season regiment, which included protein supplements and work in the weight room has made him stronger.

The strength build up has focused on his legs, which is where pitchers develop a bulk of their velocity.

“I’ve really built up the legs and that’s made me strong all the way through this season,” Hammel said.

As for the Tampa Bay signing, Hammel said he knew since the beginning of this season he would get signed.

“All the scouts were said I’ve got projectability through the roof,” Hammel said. “Out of high school I was really wild, but since then I’ve had location. I go in and out and I’ve got three confident pitches (fastball, curveball, slider).”

TVCC finished with a paltry 15-37 record, with Hammel finishing with a 4-7 record with a 5.87 ERA.

Three of his losses were 1-0 decisions.

Though he wasn’t used to being on a team that struggled so much, Hammel said playing in Ontario was the perfect decision for him.

“There’s nothing to do in Ontario, so that makes you concentrate on baseball that much more,” he said. “

With two weeks of school remaining before he flies off to play short-season A ball at either Princeton, W.Va., or Hudson Valley, N.Y., Hammel said he thinks he’ll be in West Virginia, but doesn’t care where he ends up.

“Only two more weeks and I’m outta here,” Hammel said.

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