by Adam Gonzales
Cody Hamlin started off his career as a Wildcat, but not as an Arizona Wildcat. The redshirt sophomore began his college career at Western Nevada CC, where he was named the Scenic West Conference Player of the Year in 2013 after having a tremendous season. He finished with a 10-2 record and a 1.45 ERA.
Once his second season at Western Nevada CC ended, he had to find another school to take his talents to, and he looked no further than Tucson, Ariz. He wanted to go to a place where he could win a National Championship, and playing for head coach Andy Lopez seemed like the right move.
“I wanted to come to Arizona because of coach Lopez,” Hamlin said. “His background with getting to Omaha was the biggest reason I came here.”
Hamlin has come a long way since graduating from Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho in 2011. His progress all started at his junior college, and continued with Lopez and assistant coach Shaun Cole.
“I think I’ve developed a lot since high school,” Hamlin said. “I was an average pitcher coming out of a high school, and junior college was where I changed my mechanics. I had a problem with throwing strikes, and my pitching coach there changed my arm slot, and that’s where the sidearm came from. Accuracy and velocity went up, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. Coach Lopez and coach Cole have helped me a lot too, not only on the field, but with life in general.”
As the pitching coach, Cole works with Hamlin exclusively, and he has nothing but praise for him.
“He has settled into a very critical role in our rotation this year, and he has handled it very well,” Cole said. “We thought he was going to be a valuable bullpen guy for us, but when he came back from Christmas break he earned the Saturday night job. He has a very high ceiling.”
Hamlin came off a tremendous season at Western Nevada CC, and that made the transition to the Pac-12 much smoother for Hamlin, but it was still a big jump
"Playing in junior college helped a lot to get the feel of the college game,” Hamlin said. “It made the transition easier, but there are points where it is different. The competition level is a lot higher, and the access that Division I programs have to facilities is a huge difference too.”
Hamlin has made 14 starts, and leads the team in wins with a record of 5-4 and an ERA of 3.72 in 94.1 innings of work, which is right behind senior James Farris.
“I felt that I have done very well,” Hamlin said. “I feel that I have filled the role that I needed to.”
Players who aren’t recruited highly out of high school often come out and produce at a high level in the college game. In Hamlin’s case, his motivation and drive have made him a better player.
“I feel that there was always a chip on my shoulder,” Hamlin said. “I want to prove that I can compete at this level.”
Hamlin has gained some interest from Major League clubs this year. He will be draft eligible this summer and will have to make that decision rather soon.
“There are a couple teams that I have talked to,” Hamlin said. “The Cardinals and the A’s have talked to me the most, so that’s a possibility for next year.”
The Wildcats will play in their final series this weekend at home against Albeline Christian, where Hamlin will make his final start of the year on Saturday night.