Fireworks, fans on 4th a new 
experience for some GJ Rox

Sam Howard has only pitched nine innings so far for the Grand Junction Rockies, but manager Anthony Sanders sees a potential ace in the Georgia Southern left-hander. Howard has seven strikeouts in his nine innings.

During the Grand Junction Rockies game on July 4, fireworks were going off all around Suplizio Field. Sparks flew from the parking lot in right field, from across North Avenue and from the Lincoln Park Golf Course.

At different points during the late innings of Grand Junction’s 16-13 win over Orem, a smoky haze enveloped the field, and booming noises rung out in the night.

That, paired with a record-breaking crowd of more than 6,000 fans, made for an unreal environment for players not born in the United States.

Catcher Hamlet Marte grew up in the Dominican Republic and said he’s never had that many fans watch him play.

“It was amazing, man,” Marte said. “Playing on the Fourth of July, it was amazing. And that many fans — too many fans for me, man. In the Dominican, maybe 500 people (would attend a game), but 6,000? Come on, man.”

Ace Potential

Sam Howard has a live fastball and solid movement for every pitch. He has a deceptive but smooth and fundamentally sound delivery that makes it hard to pick up the baseball leaving his hand.

The Georgia Southern product has been limited to only three innings per appearance, but Howard passes the eye test.

In nine innings, the left-hander has struck out seven batters and walked one. His ERA is sitting a little high at 5.00, but Rockies manager Anthony Sanders said Howard is impressive.

“He’s a quality lefty, without a doubt,” Sanders said. “I think once he gets to stretch out a little bit, and gets some longer outings, you’ll see a true ace on the hill. He’s still on a tight pitch count, but I can’t wait until he gets to go seven or eight innings for us.”

Red-hot Reyes

Randy Reyes, in his first 10 starts this season, picked up a hit in each game. In 12 appearances, Reyes racked up 15 hits and has been one of the best hitters in Grand Junction’s league-leading offense.

Reyes is second on the team in average among players with at least 10 starts, hitting .349 after Tuesday night. Heading into Wednesday night’s game, Reyes also led the team with three home runs and 15 RBI.

Rogers return

Wes Rogers, the Colorado Rockies’ fourth-round pick in June’s Major League Baseball draft, could make his professional debut soon. After injuring an ankle while shagging fly balls early in the season, Rogers has been working with trainers.

“He’s been working with our staff, and I saw him jogging the other day, but I’m not 100 percent sure when he’ll be back,” Sanders said.

Around the Pioneer League

Trevor Gretzky, son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, was called up from Orem before the Owlz traveled to Grand Junction on July 4.

He was called up to the Burlington Bees, the Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.


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