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Colorado Rockies prospect Garrett Hampson is rounding into a complete player

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PuRP No. 22, Garrett Hampson

22. Garrett Hampson (282 points, 28 ballots)

The general sentiment among Rockies fans who follow the draft when Colorado took Garrett Hampson, shortstop out of Long Beach State, in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft was that of bemusement. Though the Rockies have had good success with shortstops from that school (see Tulowitzki, Troy), Hampson’s draft scouting reports painted him as a pure utility guy who got by more on grit and work ethic than talent, and who would need to rely on defense to make it to the Show.

But a funny thing happened to that narrative after Hampson signed for $750,000 and was assigned to Short Season A Boise—Hampson was an offensive dynamo. The 22-year-old, playing against age-appropriate competition in a notoriously pitcher friendly environment in the Northwest League, thrived in his professional debut.

In 312 plate appearances, Hampson hit .301/.404/.441 with 24 extra bases hits (only two of them homers) and 36 steals in 40 attempts. His 15.4 percent walk rate almost eclipsed his 17.9 percent strikeout rate. In all, that’s good for a 138 wRC+ from a player who had been slapped with a utility tag right away.

So is it time to reconsider Hampson’s ceiling as a prospect? MLB.com currently has Hampson placed 26th on their Rockies prospect list:

Hampson has plus speed and smooth infield actions. He covers a lot of ground at shortstop but his arm is no better than average, limiting his ability to make plays from the hole. His instincts and gamer mentality allow him to maximize his tools.

Hampson lacks strength yet sometimes gets caught up trying to hit for power. He does make consistent contact from the right side of the plate but needs to do a better job of putting the ball on the ground and utilizing his speed. Though he has the quickness to steal bases, he'll fit toward the bottom of a batting order as a pro.

Meanwhile, Eric Longenhagen took a dimmer view of Hampson’s fielding profile when he ranked the shortstop 22nd in the system:

Hampson will need to be able to play shortstop at least part time to profile as a big leaguer because his power output doesn’t play anywhere else. He’s a plus runner and has the range for short but the arm strength might not play on the left side of the infield. Hampson projects for 30 game power. He’s thick in the shoulders and torso but his forearms are quite small, his wrists are stiff through contact, and he doesn’t produce much power. He has a utility ceiling.

In other words, the national scouts are necessarily buying the offensive explosion from Hampson as a sign of greater things. Both sources rate his run tool as a 60, though as mentioned one rated the field tool much lower (45 vs. 55)—and that seems to be the one Hampson will need as he moves up the ladder. Then again, Baseball America recently named Hampson the system’s top defensive infielder (and rated him as having the system’s top strike zone discipline)—so now I’m even more confused.

If it weren’t for the presence of Brendan Rodgers, Hampson would seem to be a natural candidate for the Lancaster shortstop position given his advanced feel for the game. He’s still a possibility there, but more likely is that Hampson starts the year in Asheville and potentially moves up to High A midseason with good performance. Hampson would be my pick for the first position player from the 2016 draft class to make the big leagues—second overall after Ben Bowden.

I think Hampson’s floor is relatively high and his ceiling in my eyes is rising due to his great debut in Boise, but ultimately I still place him in the AAAA/utility player category. As such, I placed him 25th on my list with a 40+ FV tag. A strong full season debut would certainly get my attention.