We’re now in the top 5 of the mid-season 2018 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, where the prospects will get their own profile. These are the best of the best for a farm system that is down a little from this point last year due to prospect graduations and trades. In case you missed it, here are prospects 30-26, prospects 25-21, prospects 20-16, prospects 15-11, and prospects 10-6. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 31 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.
For each player on the PuRPs list, I’ll include a link to individual stats (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, a note on the 2018 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer. For what it’s worth, I’ll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. All ages are as of the time the article was posted.
5. Garrett Hampson (805 points, 31 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 9 — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 4
How did he enter the organization?
2016 3rd Round, Long Beach State University
Why did he make the PuRPs list?
Hampson has an argument as the prospect who most helped his own stock this year, thanks to a two level romp through the upper minors culminating in his current position on the big league club a week ago. That makes the 23-year-old the first player from Colorado’s 2016 draft class to make it to the Show.
The general sentiment among Rockies fans who follow the draft when Colorado took Hampson out of Long Beach State 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.
A funny thing happened to that utility player narrative after Hampson got into pro ball though: he started hitting well and didn’t stop. Indeed, in the minors over four levels in the last three years, Hampson hit .315/.389/.458 in over 1,300 plate appearances while playing good defense at second, short, and even center field. That’s a really useful player who has caused scouts and fans alike to reevaluate Hampson’s ceiling towards an above average regular and reinforce his floor as a high caliber utility player.
This year, Hampson began the year in Double A Hartford against pitching that was on average 1.3 years older with 172 plate appearances of proof that he had mastered the level. The .304/.391/.466 line (141 wRC+) included more walks (12.2% of PA) than strikeouts (9.9%) as well as 19 steals (only caught once) and 14 extra base hits.
Promoted to Triple A Albuquerque in May, Hampson continued his tear against more advanced (and 3.5 years older) pitchers. In 248 plate appearances with the Isotopes, Hampson’s 118 wRC+ was less impressive in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but his rate stats of .312/.371/.462 were similarly impressive. The walks were down (8.5% of PA) and the strikeouts were up (18.1% of PA), but the loud contact was still there in the form of 19 extra base hits and the speed generated another 14 steals.
That performance was enough to earn Hampson the nod when DJ Lemahieu went on the DL, and he has held his own so far in 20 plate appearances with a 92 wRC+.
What do the scouts say?
Just like us fans, scouts have gradually increased their ceiling on Hampson as he has moved up the minor league ladder.
Hampson’s well above-average speed is his standout tool and he employs it well. After hitting too many routine fly-balls in college, he has adjusted his approach to put more balls on the ground and use his feet to get on base, where he had 87 steals in 105 attempts during his first two seasons. He has a quick right-handed swing and barrels the ball consistently, and while he doesn’t offer much power, he does show good patience at the plate.
After spending his pro debut at shortstop, Hampson split time between second base and short in 2017. While his actions, range, hands and internal clock work at both spots, his average arm is a better fit at second. He shows Gold Glove upside at second base as he continues to learn the position.
In that evaluation, Hampson gets a 65 Run, 60 Field, and 55 Hit grade. The 35 Power grade holds him back, but those grades were 25 or 30 even at the beginning of this season.
Hampson was ranked 8th in the system by Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs back in May with a 45 FV grade:
Hampson has been on the scouting radar forever (he was a multi-year infielder on the collegiate Team USA) but is only now starting to convince some scouts he can stay at shortstop. The rest of the profile is grounded in bat-to-ball skills and premium speed, which has helped him more in the lower minors than it will as he faces fundamentally sound defenders in Double-A and up. There’s a strong chance he’s a utility man, but Hampson is trending upward and starting to convince more scouts that he could play every day.
John Sickels gave Hampson a B- grade and ranked him 6th in the system pre-season. Here’s an evaluation of Hampson from him in March:
Age 23, Hampson is a right-handed hitter who makes aggressive use of his 70-grade speed. He understands the importance of getting on base and his OBP/speed combo is ideal at the top of the batting order. He is very reliable at shortstop in terms of not making errors but his mediocre arm fits better at second according to scouts. We need to see him outside the Cal League but he is quite intriguing.
Here’s some video on Hampson his time this year with Hartford courtesy of Baseball America:
When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?
Even if Hampson were to retire tomorrow, he’s produced more big league value that the vast majority of prospects ever will. Naturally, I don’t think that’s the way it will play out: Hampson seems to have a long big league career ahead of him, though the role has yet to be determined. I initially viewed Hampson as a major league utility player who could also be a below average regular in a pinch. That’s the same view I had of DJ LeMahieu when he was acquired and that’s turned out pretty well for the Rockies.
Now though? I think Hampson could very well be Colorado’s Opening Day second baseman next year if LeMahieu is not re-signed, and he could provide similar Major League value to LeMahieu if he earns the opportunity. That was enough for me to rank Hampson 6th on my personal ballot with a 50 FV grade.
★ ★ ★
Stay tuned for our number four prospect for our mid-season PuRPs list!