Garrett Hampson has followed very similar footsteps to one of his baseball idols, even if they accomplish the job in quite different ways.
A highly-touted shortstop taken by the Colorado Rockies out of Long Beach State, Hampson has long-admired Toronto’s Troy Tulowitzki — also a highly-touted shortstop taken by the Colorado Rockies out of Long Beach State.
“I look up to him a lot. I got to work with him a bit, and it’s pretty cool to be on hopefully the same path,” Hampson said.
But unlike the 6-foot-3 Tulowitzki, taken seventh overall in 2005, Hampson probably won’t be cranking out 20-home run seasons. At 5-11, 185 pounds, he isn’t a prototypical shortstop. Yet, the Boise Hawks’ leadoff hitter, taken in the third round just two weeks ago, has done nothing but impress at each level.
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On Sunday, he was named the shortstop on the collegiate Gold Glove team. He also hit .303 with 50 steals in his three-year career at Long Beach State. In his first three games with the Hawks, the Reno native has been outstanding, hitting .583 (7-of-12), getting his second three-hit night Wednesday. He has yet to strike out and has a double and triple under his belt.
“Not the biggest guy or the strongest guy, but I find a way. I can do a lot of different things on the field,” Hampson said. “... My arm’s not like Troy’s, but I get it there, get it on time. There’s definitely a little chip on my shoulder when I hear that some people don’t think I can stick at shortstop.”
Atop the Hawks’ lineup, Hampson has already shown the patience that made him successful as a Dirtbag in college.
“He’s done a fantastic job. His (at-bats) are very mature. He’s got a really good approach, and I think that’s contagious,” Hawks manager Andy Gonzalez said. “We like guys to move up, but (selfishly) I hope we have him here for a while.”
In Hampson’s first game for the Hawks on Monday, he racked up three hits and has one in each of the two games since. Not bad for a rookie in his first pro action, so it can only keep up, right?
“I wish it was that easy,” Hampson said. “... It’s felt pretty good, but this game will humble you in a hurry, so you don’t really have a choice but be present on every single pitch or it’ll make it even tougher.”
What has helped Hampson handle each at-bat with such a calm approach is another product of his college career. He was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 84 prospect in the 2013 draft coming out of Reno High, but Hampson was set on heading to Long Beach, going 796th in the 26th round to the Nationals. At Long Beach, sports psychologist Ken Ravizza was brought in to help teach the mental game, and Hampson said he learned a lot from the experience.
“Picked up bits and pieces, learning to deal with failure, which I know I’ll have to do. Learning breathing exercises to release that last pitch, be in the moment,” Hampson said. “I’ve gotta be a rat up at the plate, that’s what I’ve gotta do.”