The plan for LSU football and baseball signee Maurice Hampton has always been to attend college.
So is it possible that the 6-foot, 205-pound cornerback and state’s No. 1 football prospect in the Class of 2019 will sign a pro baseball contract this summer and never play a down in Baton Rouge?
It all depends where he is selected in the MLB draft.
“Me and my family haven’t discussed exactly what (position in the draft) it would be, but like my dad said it would definitely have to be life-changing,” said Hampton.
His father, Maurice Hampton Sr., says that it would likely take a first-round selection for his son to consider turning pro early.
“No, I doubt the second for sure,” said his father. “If it’s in the first round he’ll definitely take a good look at it, but if it’s second round he’ll probably be at LSU.”
Could Maurice Hampton be a first-round MLB draft pick?
In addition to being ranked 27th on the MLB.com top prospect list, Hampton is No. 30 on ESPN senior baseball writer Keith Law’s top draft prospect list. A 247Sports preseason mock draft has Hampton going 21st overall.
MUS baseball coach John Jarnagin said that representatives from all 30 major league teams have come to see Hampton play.
His MLB.com scouting report reads: “Hampton has dynamic tools beyond his raw power. He’s also a well above-average runner who can make an impact as a basestealer and a defender. He definitely has the quickness for center field and also flashes plus arm strength that will enable him to play anywhere in the outfield.
“His right-handed swing could get smoother but still generates impressive bat speed and exit velocities, giving him the potential for 25 or more homers on an annual basis if he makes enough contact.”
Hampton has hit seven home runs this season, up from two a year ago. He is batting .465 with a .548 on-base percentage and an .887 slugging percentage. He has also stolen 26 bases.
Hampton is one of four players to be named a high school Under Armour All-American in football and baseball. The others are former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown, and Ole Miss signee Jerrion Ealy.
Baseball is ‘smarter route’ but …
One of the reasons Hampton signed with LSU is the opportunity to play for an elite college football and baseball program. He wants to keep playing football, but he thinks that the smarter professional move is to play baseball.
“Injuries occur less in the game of baseball. Careers are longer,” said Hampton. “I feel like baseball would definitely be the safer and smarter route but at the same time, we just have to see what happens.”
The MLB assigns bonus pool values to each of its draft picks from rounds 1-10. The assigned bonus values for a first-round pick in this year’s draft range from $2.2 million to $8.4 million.
“That’s the only way you can look at it. If it’s something that he can’t refuse,” said his father. “If it’s something that he would get if he was three years into it at LSU, then I’m pretty sure he’s gone.”
If Hampton picks college, the plan is for him to enroll at LSU in June. The deadline for him to decide whether he signs a pro baseball contract is in July.
Hampton credits his parents with keeping him focused and relaxed about his decision.
“They’re just keeping me level-headed. Not letting me have too many highs or too many lows. Keeping me focused on what’s ahead,” he said. “I’m just enjoying this part of my life and trying not to get too caught up in what people are saying.”
His mother, Teka Hampton, says that either choice is a win in her eyes.
“I’m excited either way whether I’m following him around in minor league baseball or if I’m in Baton Rouge. Either way I’ll be happy. I just like to see my kid play,” she said.