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Minors to Majors - Brad Hawpe08/14/2007 8:21 PM ET
Colorado Springs Sky Sox
During the last few years, the Colorado Rockies have made it their top priority to develop their team with players they have drafted. Four of their starters were drafted by the Rockies and made stops in Colorado Springs on their way to the big leagues. Todd Helton, Garret Atkins, and Matt Holliday get most of the attention of the four former Sky Sox players but it's the fourth, Brad Hawpe, who has quietly put together impressive numbers the past three seasons in Denver.
Hawpe is a team player always quick to deflect attention directed at him back on the team. He wants to win ball games and will do whatever is right for the team to get wins. The former LSU star is a natural first baseman but has made the transition the last four seasons to right field. In 2000, Hawpe was named to the College World Series All-Tournament team after leading the Tigers to the National Championship. His three-run home run in the quarter finals off of USC's Mark Prior guided LSU to the semifinal round. At the end of the season Brad was named second team All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball and led the nation with 36 doubles, which tied an NCAA record.
Drafted by the Rockies in the eleventh round of the 2000 draft Hawpe was named an All-Star in the Northwest League in his first professional season. He advanced a level in each of the next four seasons before making it to Denver late in the 2004 season. At every minor league stop he put up great numbers including in 2002, when he had one of the best seasons ever by a Rockies minor leaguer. At Single-A Salem Brad hit .347 to lead the Carolina League and belted 22 home runs and 97 RBI on his way to being League MVP and the Rockies organizational player of the year.
In 2004, he earned a promotion to Colorado Springs and spent the majority of the season here but did have a couple of month long stints with the Rockies. With the Sky Sox Hawpe hit .322 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI and an organizational-best .652 slugging percentage. Hawpe made his major league debut in a double header vs. Atlanta on May 1 and as pinch hitter got his first major league hit in his first at-bat in the big leagues. In the evening finale he made his first big league start and went 3-for-4 with a 2-run home run off of John Thomson. He continued his hot hitting going 8-for-13 in his first five games on his way to hitting .263 in 22 games before being optioned back to Colorado Springs on May 30th. He returned to Triple-A for the three months before he earned another promotion to Denver in September after scorching the Pacific Coast League in August when he hit 14 of his 31 home runs, averaging one home run every 7.7 at-bats. He finished the month hitting .352 with 28 RBI and was named the Rockies Organizational Player of the Month. He finished the season starting nine of the Rockies final twelve games in right field and hit his first career pinch hit home run.
Bothered by a hamstring injury in his first full season in the major leagues in 2005, Hawpe was able to put up respectable rookie numbers hitting .262 with 9 home runs and 47 RBI for Colorado. Sidelined for a month and a half with a hamstring injury he returned to Colorado Springs for a seven-game rehab assignment and hammered PCL pitching going 13-for-28 (.464) with three home runs and eleven RBI. Even with the missed time the natural first baseman still lead the Rockies with ten outfield assists in 2005.
Healthy for 2006 he was the Rockies everyday right fielder and established career highs in every category in his first fully healthy season in the big leagues hitting .293 with 22 home runs, 84 RBI, 33 doubles, and 67 runs in 150 games. He joined Larry Walker, Dante Bichette, Jeromy Burnitz as the only left handed batters in franchise history to hit over 20 home runs. His 16 outfield assists were second in the major leagues trailing only Alfonso Soriano (22) and was one shy of the franchise record set by Dante Bichette (17) in 1999. Hawpe put up solid number at Coors Field, hitting .282 with six home runs and 36 RBI but he actually hit better on the road hitting .303 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI away from Coors Field.
The 2007 season started off slow for Brad and the Rockies but in the second half the Rockies have climbed back into contention in the National League West playoff standings. Going into the last six weeks of the season the Rockies will play the Padres nine times, the Diamondbacks six times, and the Dodgers ten times. So by no means is this division ready to crown a winner.
Hawpe, no stranger to postseason success is having a solid season hitting .290 with 20 home runs and 74 RBI. His twenty home runs is second on the team behind Matt Holiday (21) and he is two short of his career high twenty-two home runs. He needs only eleven more RBIs to surpass is career high of 84. Hitting sixth in a dangerous Rockies lineup behind Holliday, Helton, and Atkins, Hawpe is looking to help guide Colorado back to the postseason for the first time since 1995.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.