SCOTTSDALE — With injuries to infielders Shawn O’Malley and Pat Valaika, a pair of Colorado Rockies prospects are getting a chance to flash their skills at the plate and in the field.
Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers started at shortstop and second base, respectively, in Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe. Both came through with big days at the plate, connecting on back-to-back home runs in the second inning off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker.
The 21-year-old Rodgers, now hitting .273 this spring, started the power display by taking a 3-1 pitch high off the batter’s eye in center field to plate Tony Wolters and give the Rockies a 2-0 lead.
"“Today, I got a good fastball elevated in the zone and put a good swing on it,” Rodgers told Rox Pile after the game. “We have a lot of insight from our hitting coaches. I knew he (Shoemaker) liked his splitter ahead in the count and I got ahead in the count 3-1 and he threw me a fastball and left it up a little bit.”"
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Hampson followed with a solo shot to left, a blast that impressed Rockies manager Bud Black.
"“What was impressive was Hampson, down 0-2 and stayed on a breaking ball and got it out in front and hit the homer,” Black said. “It was good to see from two of our guys we’re keeping an eye on.”"
Black liked what he saw from Hampson and Rodgers on Sunday, but said Colorado’s top prospect still has room to improve at the plate.
"“Hampson has a nice approach,” Black said. “With Rodgers, we’re seeing a fellow who expands the zone a little bit. He has a tendency to expand on the breaking ball outside the zone but there’s no doubt he can get on a fastball. We just have to get him maybe a be little more selective and disciplined as time goes on.”"
The 23-year-old Hampson is now batting .375 in the spring and is making the most of his time in Rockies camp, despite never having played above the Class A level at this point in his career.
"“I knew I’d be ready when my name was called,” Hampson said. “I’m fortunate to get this opportunity and I’ll try to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, we have some guys a little banged up right now, but I think me and Brendan and the other guys are just taking advantage of what we can do.”"
He also wants to work more on his approach at the plate.
"“I think I’m getting behind in the count a little too much. I’d like to see myself be a little more aggressive early in the count and get my swings off. I feel comfortable with two strikes and I’ve been putting some good at-bats together.”"