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Walks Down, Stock Up

DENVER–Justin Hampson knows all about getting off to good starts and putting together solid first halves. Now he wants to carry the good times to the end of the season.

Hampson, 22, is off to another good beginning for Class A Visalia. The lefthander was 4-0, 2.61 after his first 31 innings, compiling 33 strikeouts against just seven walks.

"Justin Hampson is starting to throw a changeup consistently, and consistently for strikes," assistant farm director Marc Gustafson said. "That’s gotten him over the edge. He’s a three-pitch pitcher now. He has been good in the early going."

The 28th-round pick out of Belleville Area (Ill.) Community College in 1999 also pitched well coming out of spring training a year ago. He began that season at low Class A Asheville by pitching six perfect innings before leaving the game on a 75-pitch limit.

He had a 7-1, 2.20 record by June 7 and had won four decisions in a row. But from that point to the end of the season, Hampson went 2-7 with six no decisions and finished with overall 9-8, 3.83 numbers.

Still, that was his first season above .500 on the mound. In short-season campaigns in the Northwest League, he went 1-8, 3.54 at Portland in 2000 and 2-6, 4.52 at Tri-City in 2001.

"He’s not walking guys," Gustafson said. "His walks are down from last year to this year. That’s a key to a lot of levels and points toward success."

Last season, Hampson walked 58 in 164 innings, an average of 3.2 per nine innings. He has walked more than three hitters per nine innings over his first three minor league years. This season, the ratio has dropped to just more than two.

Rocky Roads

• The Rockies planned to send third baseman Jeff Baker from extended spring training to low Class A Asheville in late May. He had surgery on his left wrist Feb. 18 to repair torn cartilage.

• First baseman Ryan Shealy had arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee after being bothered by soreness in spring training.

• The Rockies moved two minor league hitting coaches. Theron Todd moved from Double-A Tulsa to Asheville while Darron Cox went from Asheville to Tulsa. The change was made to allow Todd to be closer to an ill family member. Cox played in college at Oklahoma.

• Previous organization report: Jorge Piedra

 
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