Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Sunday Hawpe
2005-05-08 07:23
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Brad Hawpe began his pro career as a first baseman, which comes as a surprise to me since he moves reasonably gracefully in the outfield for a big guy. Hawpe is 6'3", 200, and was born 6/22/79. The Rockies drafted him out of Louisiana State in the 2000 draft, 11th round. Hawpe has gotten on base and slugged at every level in the minors, although his numbers out of A-ball and not at altitude (that is to say, AA Tulsa) aren't as fearsome.

Baseball America says Hawpe's biggest hangup is becoming overly concerned with his bat speed. He's strong enough that if he concentrates on making contact, the extra base hits will come (especially at Coors). The Sporting News 2005 Scouting Handbook is convinced Hawpe has a place as a starter: "The question he has to answer is whether he can make consistent enough contact to hit up in the middle, or will he be left to hit in the sixth or seventh spot." John Sickels is a little less enthusiastic: "Give Hawpe 500 at-bats in a regular park, he'll hit something like .257 with 21 homers and a .331 OBP, not awesome by any means, or even above average, but OK as a complementary player for a good team."

So far this season Hawpe has been the Rockies' third-most productive offensive player after Clint Barmes and Todd Helton. His biggest weakness has been acute difficulty against left-handers: on his big league career Hawpe's hit .261/.330/.424 vs. righties compared to .154/.267/.231 vs. lefties. Then again the latter numbers are only over 13 at-bats. Memo to Clint Hurdle: Hawpe is too young to be pigeonholed as a platoon player. He's not going to learn how to hit major league lefties if he never gets to face them.

The long and short of it is Brad Hawpe is a pretty good young player, and he'll help a good team eventually if not the Rockies. Colorado desperately needs him to fill out to the high end of his potential, because they need a #4 hitter badly. And a leadoff hitter. And five through eight hitters. Right, and a rotation that doesn't walk people and a bullpen. But if they had all these things already, then they wouldn't need me, right?

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.