Right before Spokane Indians pitcher Cole Ragans agreed to sign with the Texas Rangers he had one question for his agent.
"Do I get to meet Cole Hamels?"
After receiving a "yes" in response, Ragans exclaimed, "They got a deal."
Although this interaction was in a joking manner, the high school senior was serious about wanting to meet Hamels someday. Ragans' interest in the career of the four-time MLB All-Star started during his junior season of high school when he decided to switch up his pitching delivery. Cole started to take his hands over his head in the windup, and while making the transition looked to the big leagues for an example. Hamels fit the mold.
"I honestly just looked him up on YouTube one day and started watching videos," said Ragans. "I had already watched this one, so the next time I got on I'd watch this one and this one, and try to watch a new video every time so I'm not watching the same thing."
Studying Hamels' delivery benefitted Ragans on the diamond and helped him emerge as one of the top prospects in the country. It was only coincidence that Hamels' current team, the Texas Rangers, selected Ragans with the 30th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Prior to coming to Spokane, the first round pick had spent his entire pro career at the Rangers' practice facility in Surprise, Arizona. With Surprise also being home to spring training for Texas, this past spring presented the prime opportunity for the two Coles to finally meet one another. Mark Connor, the Rangers' Special Assistant for Pitching, helped make the connection.
"He came back to me within an hour and said you need to be here at 6:45 in the morning, you're going to spend the day with Cole Hamels."
It was the morning February 28, 2017 and it started with an early breakfast that allowed the two to get to know each other a bit more. That initial interaction was followed by a rigorous schedule that included weight lifting, time in the training room, stretching, and throwing, all followed by a pregame lunch. The two even dressed out for the Rangers' spring training game that afternoon.
The time together allowed Ragans the opportunity to pick the brain of one of the best in Major League Baseball. Even with a 14 year age difference they found much in common. Both are 6'4" left handed pitchers who were selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. It was quite the perspective for a first year professional player to learn from a 12-year MLB veteran. For Ragans, it was the actions he picked up on that day that spoke louder than any words uttered between the two.
"There's always something to do honestly," explained Ragans, in regard to Hamels example. "He never sat down in his locker once. He always had something to do. He had everything planned out. He knew when he was going to do it. There's always something to do."
It was a full day for Ragans and one that left a lasting impression on the young lefty. He has kept that routine and approach in mind as he launched into extended spring training in Arizona, and now the Northwest League here with the Indians.
"Just really how he prepares and goes about his business. His routine is unbelievable; he has his routine like engraved I guess you could say. He knows exactly what he's doing."
Just one day with Cole Hamels left quite the mark on this 19 year-old. The Rangers are hoping this Cole can follow a similar path to Hamels, with his first steps towards a prominent big league career starting in Spokane.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.