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Hard Work Helped Hamren Reach the Top

08/05/2011 11:10 AM -

Article courtesy of Bob Wirz, Independent Baseball Insider. For more information, visit www.WirzandAssociates.com.

(Former T-Bone) Erik Hamren has set the bar very high for those who follow in his footsteps such as premier American Association players Cyle Hankerd and Blake Gailen, who recently had their contracts purchased by major league organizations. The same is true for 2011 grads who have made their way out of the Can-Am, North American and Frontier Leagues and into any of the 30 organizations.

Hamren is not the first player to go from an Independent league one season to the majors the very next year, but most of the others either had stardom written all over their resume when they worked with an Indy team while a bonus contract was being negotiated or they had previous time at baseball’s highest level before returning to perhaps the veteran-laden Atlantic League to prove themselves once more.

The right-handed hurler, who does not turn 25 until later this month, was an everyday worker (while) splitting time between Kansas City, KS and Joliet, IL, two communities that played in the Northern League, last season, hoping that his work would merit a higher level on the baseball chain. 

While his numbers were not outstanding, they were good enough that Kansas City Manager Tim Doherty recommended him for an invitation only San Diego Padres tryout camp after the 2010 season. After proving himself with Padres affiliates in both the California and Texas Leagues earlier this year the onetime position player from Saddleback Community College (Mission Viejo, CA) joined the parent Padres this week.

“He had all the stuff it takes,” Doherty remembers, but needed to corral his pitches and gain command. Working with T-Bones pitching coach Caleb Balbuena in what was Hamren’s first season above the rookie Arizona League the hurler learned more of what Doherty called “the intangibles of pitching.  His maturity on the mound” kicked in.

“I think some guys would (have quit before the latest opportunity), but it’s really just how determined you are and what your mindset is, and how passionate you are about getting to the next level,” Hamren told MLB.com prior to his major league debut (August 1), which turned out to be a scoreless ninth inning (one walk, one strikeout) against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

(Bob Wirz also writes about Independent Baseball on two other sites, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com and www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com. Fans may subscribe for 2011 to this Independent Baseball Insider column at www.WirzandAssociates.com or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)