If he could take the mound with headphones on, Dominic Hamel would sign up for that in a heartbeat.
The Mets No. 12 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, had been marching to the beat of his own drum all year – turning in one of the most impressive seasons of any Mets minor league arm. Tonight he starts Game Two of the North Division Championship Series in Aberdeen, looking to send Brooklyn to the South Atlantic League Championship Series.
“I get jealous of basketball sometimes because they play music throughout the whole game and I love that,” Hamel said. “I’m already kind of doing that. I play a lot of music before that game and if a song I hear really resonates with me, that’s what I’m pitching with in my mind.”
Whether it’s 21 Savage, Drake, Kanye, or even Duran Duran, the 23-year-old righty from Chandler, Arizona just needs rhythm in order to channel his elite talent. This season – Hamel’s first full season as a professional – he threw 119 innings which leads all Mets minor leaguers. His 145 strikeouts also marked an org best.
Brooklyn steps onto the field in Maryland Thursday night with a 1-0 series lead, taking on the Baltimore Orioles affiliate, the Aberdeen IronBirds in the best-of-three series. While the head-to-head matchup between Hamel and Aberdeen bats takes center stage, the battle that separates Hamel from average start to dominant start comes down to the familiar tussle of Hamel vs. Hamel.
“When I’m at my best, everything feels easy and effortless,” Hamel said. “I know I’m a strike thrower, but when I start to struggle throwing that’s when I think ‘don’t throw a ball’ and get out of that free-flowing mindset.”
While walks have plagued him, in starts where Hamel has walked two or more batters his ERA is still a solid 3.93. However, when Hamel walks one or no batters, his ERA is a microscopic 0.47. With Hamel, eliminating walks means eliminating bats at an elite level. After all, the league is only hitting .180 against him. Of his 62 baserunners in 55.2 innings, 25 of them have been walks.
That free-flowing mindset starts in the outfield during Hamel’s stretching routine before his starts. Even though the only in-game music by the stadium comes from the boardwalk and the surrounding Coney Island cacophony, Hamel can get really close to finding his own personal beat.
“I put my headphones in and think about all the biggest moments in my career, my biggest…