Interview with Dominic Hamel – The Spin Rate King

2021 Bowman Draft Dominic Hamel autograph, photo credit Doug DeArmond, @Metsdiehard10 on Twitter

I was recently lucky enough to interview the 2021 Mets third round draft pick, Dominic Hamel. Hamel is a super cool person, and I appreciated his time greatly. Personally, I really enjoyed the interview and was given some great insight on one of my favorite prospects currently inside the system. He is going to quickly rise up through the organization.

Hamel first graduated from Yavapai College, a community college in Prescott, Arizona. He pitched 67.1 innings his freshman year and 73.1 innings his sophomore year. Hamel was then drafted out of Dallas Baptist University in 2021 after going undrafted in 2020 due to draft complications. Hamel was the ace, where he threw for 91.2 innings with a 4.22 ERA, allowing 68 hits, walking 34, and striking out 136. His 136 strikeouts are a Dallas Baptist record which also led the Missouri Valley Conference.

The spin rate numbers are what stands out to me most and why I call him “The Spin Rate King.” Spin rate per “represents the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute.” His fastball has an average rate of a little bit above 2400 RPMs which is above-average even when compared to MLB pitchers. The third-round pick is evidence that teams have started to value spin and are more onboard with analytics. Spin rate creates more vertical lift on the pitch causing it to move or “have life” as some would say. For comparison, we’ll use Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, and Jacob deGrom’s average fastball spin rate during the 2021 season.

Gerrit Cole: 2552 RPM
Trevor Bauer: 2822 RPM
Jacob DeGrom: 2452 RPM
Dominic Hamel: 2428 RPM

Now, spin rate certainly isn’t everything that goes into a pitcher but by this comparison, you can really appreciate just how good Hamel’s spin rate really is.  Hamel standing at 6’2″ consistently gives his pitches a downward plane by extending his delivery which contributes to the life on his pitches making it hard for a hitter to pinpoint the location. All these pitchers in this list are fairly known as high strikeout pitchers. Hamel in his short 3 innings pitched for the FCL Mets in 2021 struck out 7.

Now for the interview! I asked Dominic 4 longer questions with 6 rapid-fire fun questions at the end. Most answers will be in form of a summary with small quotes inserted in.

What was the experience like finally getting drafted?
Hamel mentioned getting drafted was a “long time coming” and that he was really “a late bloomer.” It took him a while to figure out the process and his journey was an adventure. The memories he made that day were surreal getting that phone call and are definitely something he will never forget.

What is your favorite moment in your baseball career?
Off the field: This is a great and unique story. In his sophomore year at the JUCO in Arizona, his team, unfortunately, lost the 3-game series final and was on the bus back home. The bus had an engine malfunction on the highway and his team had to get out and push the bus to safety on the side of the road. Instead of taking it as a negative, Hamel and his team had food on the side of the road and called it a “parking lot party” with people honking as they drove by.

On-field: In the Fort Worth Regional in 2021 against Oregon State, after starting Game 1, Hamel was brought in the get the last out of Game 7 to advance to the Super Regional. Hamel was able to close it out and get the save, which immediately resulted in a dogpile around the pitcher’s mound.

How did you figure out spin rate? Did someone point it out or was that something you figured out?
This was one of my favorite answers in the interview. It was pointed out to him by a coach early on when he played in the outfield and always took it as a compliment like “oh sick I have a cannon arm.” Later on, in college, while pitching, he mentioned his “coach told him he had life on his pitches.” This was before the pitching technology we have today. When Rapsodo and simulation at bats were introduced, Hamel was doing it in front of his coach and after reviewing the numbers, the coach was like “Dom, you using stuff? Pine tar? Spider Tack?” He replied and told his coach he doesn’t use that stuff. That’s right, his pitches had so much spin his coach thought he was using sticky stuff. I found that to be a really wild and funny story.

What are you looking to accomplish next?
Hamel mentioned he is excited to meet many new coaches/players/teams across his minor league journey. He also mentioned how he would love to be to start in Brooklyn this year. If he does, I will definitely be going to watch him pitch. The Brooklyn Cyclones are the Mets High-A affiliate. I also loved Hamel’s mentality, super personable and has that late bloomer underdog mentality.

Rapid Fire Round

Favorite Food: Home-cooked enchiladas, steak/potatoes

Favorite Song/Artist: Recently listening to Old Kanye and Gunna

Favorite MLB Player Growing Up: Alex Rodriguez, played third and wore 13 for travel ball growing up. Also, mentioned Max Scherzer for pitching and would love to eventually meet DeGrom.

Favorite Hobby Outside of Baseball: Pickle ball (absolutely loved that answer) and pickup basketball. Used to snowboard out west when he was younger and allowed to.

Favorite Movie: Original Spiderman

Superstitions: Used to be really into it in the past, not as much anymore but mentioned he always puts on his left shoe before his right.

Once again, I’d like to thank Dominic for letting me call and interview him. This was my first interview with a player and is definitely something I will never forget. I cannot wait to watch Dominic pitch if he is in Brooklyn this summer and will continue to follow his journey to the majors.

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