GJ roster fills out in time for today’s opener
Now that it’s time for the season opener, the Grand Junction Rockies finally have enough players to scrimmage.
A total of 15 players from last week’s draft have either reported or are expected to be in town by batting practice today — second-round pick Ryan Vilade was not on the roster as of Sunday.
The Rockies will send Justin Valdespina, their 15th-round pick last year, to the mound tonight in the home opener.
Valdespina, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-hander, spent last season in Grand Junction, but appeared in only three games. In his three one-inning stints, he did not allow a run, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.
For the second straight opening game, the Rockies do not have a true first baseman on the roster — the four new infielders are all listed as second or third basemen. Nate Coronado can play all four infield positions, but took his reps during Friday’s open practice in the middle infield.
Catcher Hidekel Gonzalez, after starting practice behind the plate, took ground balls and throws at first base.
Grand Junction plays Idaho Falls at 6:40 tonight at Suplizio Field, the first of six consecutive home games to open the Rockies’ sixth season. Fans will receive opening day T-shirts, courtesy of City Market, while supplies last.
In all, 20 players have been added to Grand Junction’s roster in the past three days, including the Rockies’ seventh-round draft pick, pitcher Lucas Gilbreath. The left-handed pitcher graduated from Legacy High School in Westminster in 2014, just before the Rockies drafted him in the 36th round.
He opted to attend the University of Minnesota, fill out and get some seasoning. He started out in the Gophers’ bullpen but converted to a starter this spring after pitching in the Cape Cod League last summer.
Another lefty, Hunter Williams, was Colorado’s 11th-round pick who was ruled ineligible before this season at the University of North Carolina. He worked out with the Randolph-Macon University team this spring, then played independent baseball in the Frontier League until the draft.
Grand Junction picked up nine drafted pitchers, four infielders, three outfielders and one catcher who was here only a couple of weeks ago, Nic Motley of McLennan Community College (Texas), playing in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series. Motley started all three games the Highlanders played and hit .375 with one home run.
Joey Bartosic, drafted in the 19th round out of George Washington, Casey Golden, who went in the 20th round out of UNC Wilmington, and Brett Stephens, the Rockies’ 28th round pick from UCLA, were added to the outfield.
Third baseman Jeff Bohling was Colorado’s 17th-round pick out of Gonzaga, and three players listed as middle infielders, Todd Czinege (Villanova, 29th round), Jeff Moberg (Tennessee, 30th round), and Alan Trejo (San Diego State, 16th round), were each assigned to Grand Junction after signing.
Second baseman Jordan Ebert will be facing his former club tonight. Ebert played 32 games for the Chukars last season, hitting .299, but was released by Kansas City this past March. The Rockies purchased his contract and assigned him to Grand Junction.
Logan Longwith, a right-handed pitcher, was signed last week by the Rockies, the third player from an independent league team to be assigned to Grand Junction. Longwith was playing for the Florence Freedom (Kentucky) in the Frontier League.