DENVER -- They call Long Beach State "Shortstop U," in part because it seems as if they have an assembly line that turns out 6-foot to 6-foot-3, 200-pound-plus shortstops who have disproved the theory that short is a little man's position.But this product, Garrett Hampson, is showing that the quality
DENVER -- They call Long Beach State "Shortstop U," in part because it seems as if they have an assembly line that turns out 6-foot to 6-foot-3, 200-pound-plus shortstops who have disproved the theory that short is a little man's position.
But this product, Garrett Hampson, is showing that the quality hasn't changed even if the size is smaller. Hampson, listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, played well enough that the Rockies -- who drafted full-size Troy Tulowitzki out of Long Beach in 2005 -- took him with their third-round pick Friday in the 2016 MLB Draft.
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Among other Long Beach products are Evan Longoria, who moved to third base in the Majors, Bobby Crosby and Danny Espinosa. Hampson, originally from Reno, Nev., upheld the standard by displaying excellent footwork and arm strength defensively, and impact speed offensively.
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"All those guys come back all the time to work out," Hampson said. "The technical stuff, you can learn, but it's other stuff like hustle, competitiveness, mental toughness -- all that becomes part of success. They stress that if you play the game that way, the game will reward you.
"When they come to the field, it kind of blows your mind, standing in line and taking ground balls with Tulo. It's a great experience, and they are very respectful, they answer all our questions and try to get us better."
It's fitting that Hampson, 21, latched onto the intangibles. Those traits attracted scouts.
Hampson started all 60 games and batted .302 with 13 doubles, two triples and two home runs, and had a .387 on-base percentage for a club that went 38-22. He led the team with 55 runs, and went 23-for-31 on steal attempts.
Before settling on baseball, Hampson developed a reputation on the basketball court at Reno High School.
"I wasn't as good a basketball player as some people have made me out to be -- I wasn't scoring 30 points a game," Hampson said. "I was a point guard, more a passer and a facilitator. I would say the skills helped, plus all the shuffling helped me with my lateral quickness, and it translated to baseball, plus it gave me a mental break."
Scouting reports say Hampson profiles better as a second baseman than a shortstop, or he could be valuable as a utility man. Last year, Hampson played short, second base and third base last summer for the USA Collegiate National Team in the Americas Baseball Festival in Cary, N.C. (.233, 3-for-3 on steals).
"I think I can stay at shortstop and that's my best position," Hampson said. "At the same time, if the team needs me in a different spot I'm willing to go there to help the team win. That's all that matters at the end of the day."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**. Jason Beck contributed.