"If his ability is what we think it is, the opportunity will be here, sooner rather than later," said Mike Arbuckle, the team's assistant general manager of scouting and player development, in announcing that Hamels was being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. "Realistically, you can't put a timetable, because he's missed nearly two years of productive development time. He's got to perform at Triple-A over a stretch of time, and his actions over that stretch will show us when he has to be in Philadelphia."
Fourteen strikeouts and three hits allowed?
"It may be some time this year," Arbuckle said. "I don't think we're talking about something way down the road."
Down the road could be as early as May, as late as September, or even later, say 2007, but there's no question that Hamels has the Phillies anticipating his arrival. The first sign of his potential greatness came in 2004, when Hamels struck out the Yankees' Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Tony Clark in order in a Spring Training game.
He's so close now, and he couldn't have asked for a better Triple-A debut.
Well, maybe he could have.
"Maybe I could've gotten a couple of hits," Hamels said. "I didn't do well at the plate."