Garrett Hampson showing value to Marlins as he makes homecoming stops on road trip
The first two legs of this Miami Marlins three-city road trip have been a double homecoming of sorts for Garrett Hampson.
It started at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, a ballpark Hampson estimated he went to close to 100 times as a kid despite growing up about three-and-a-half hours away in Reno, Nevada, and then going to college at Long Beach State.
It continues for the next four days at Denver’s Coors Field, the ballpark he called home for the first five years of his career after being selected by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft and making his MLB debut in July 2018. Hampson played 419 games from 2018-2022 for the Rockies before being non-tendered this offseason and becoming a free agent.
“It’s a little weird walking into this clubhouse for sure,” Hampson said, “but it’s good to be back. Had some great relationships here in Denver. You know, miss the guys miss my teammates, but I’ll always remember the good times. It’s just a new chapter in my baseball career, but it’s nice to come back here and kind of see everybody.”
So far in his first season with the Marlins, Hampson has showcased his versatility and ability to be the next-man-up at whatever position the team needs him to play. He made it onto the roster early in the season out of necessity. He has stayed by showing he can contribute whether it’s coming off the bench or getting regular starts.
“It’s kind of been my role the last few years,” Hampson said of being a bench player/spot starter. “Just try to be ready and keep the routine the same whether I’m playing or not playing. That’s what I try to do. If the game calls for me to be in there that day, I’ll be prepared.”
The Marlins signed Hampson in December to a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training. They added him to the 40-man roster toward the end of camp but Hampson started the season in the minor leagues.
That lasted … four games.
An injury to shortstop Joey Wendle prompted the Marlins to call up Hampson to the active roster the first week of the season to provide infield depth. Further injuries to outfielders Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez and Jazz Chisholm Jr. have allowed Hampson to stay on the roster and play an expanded role through the first two months of the season even after Wendle’s return.
Hampson entered Monday’s series opener against the Rockies having played in 32 of Miami’s 47 games and has made starts at four positions: Shortstop (10 games), right field (five games), second base (four games) and center field (four games). He started in center field on Monday.
“He’s a baseball player,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “That’s what you see. ... He’s really done it all for us. Initially, we thought he was going to be the left-handed [pitching] killer, but because of the Jazz injury, he’s become almost our everyday center fielder.”
His strength comes with his versatility and his speed, the latter of which he uses to “be kind of a game-wrecker out there and make things happen.” Hampson is hitting .238 on the season and his nine doubles are tied for third on the team despite only having 89 plate appearances (three of the four Marlins players with as many or more doubles as Hampson have nearly double the plate appearances). He has also stolen three bases without being caught and scored 11 runs.
“He’s taken really good at-bats,” Schumaker said. “Sometimes when you get into that home run kind of mode is when he gets in trouble, but when he’s in the line drive, move the runner over, get him over and get him in mode, that’s when you see the best version of him.”
This and that
▪ Bryan De La Cruz’s career-long 14-game hit streak came to an end Sunday when he went 0 for 4 with a strikeout in the Marlins’ 7-5 loss to the Giants.
▪ Xavier Edwards, ranked as the No. 12 prospect in Miami’s system by MLB Pipeline, has multiple hits in two of his past three starts. He enters Monday hitting .333 through his first six games in the big-leagues.
▪ The Marlins swung a minor trade Monday. They acquired outfielder Jonathan Davis from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder prospect Brady Allen.