Hamels also hoped to challenge the older brother of Jake Blalock, one of Hamels' best friends and a Minor Leaguer in the Phillies' organization. Hank Blalock always treated Hamels well in high school, despite the age gap."I've never faced him competitively," Hamels said. "I thought that would be interesting. I know there will be another opportunity. It's nice to see one of your teammates playing in the big leagues." The Blalocks were a big part of Hamels' life. Sam Blalock, Hank's uncle, coached the high school baseball team, while Dana Blalock, Hank's father, coached the Encinitas Reds, a traveling team in San Diego. Blalock came to Philadelphia with the Rangers in 2005 -- while Hamels was in the Minor Leagues. He's always followed the young Phils lefty's career. "When he was a freshman, with how smooth his mechanics were, and his control, I always thought if he could get bigger and stronger and learn to throw harder, he could be a big-time pitcher," Blalock said of Hamels. "He always had a good changeup, and that's a tough pitch to learn. If it comes naturally to you, obviously you can see the results. He's turned himself into a No. 1 starter."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.