GJ Rockies, like parent club in Denver, struggling lately
The Colorado Rockies have hit a long skid, dropping 14 of their past 16 games.
The Grand Junction Rockies have had similar woes, with a 4-6 record in their past 10 games.
But the Advanced Rookie club has a lot more to be optimistic about.
Three major pieces for Grand Junction, as of Wednesday, hadn’t seen the field. Kyle Freeland, picked No. 8 in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, will make his first start sometime this month.
Fourth-round pick and former Spartanburg Methodist outfielder Wes Rogers rolled his ankle during batting practice and hasn’t played a game at Suplizio Field since the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
Forrest Wall, taken with a competitive-balance pick after the first round, has been with the team for nearly two weeks but hasn’t taken the field.
As always, Rookie ball is largely a learning experience. Manager Anthony Sanders rarely substitutes position players, allowing them to experience a wide variety of pitchers and game situations.
Pitchers are on strict pitch counts, but they often will pitch through rough outings.
By the numbers, the Rockies have been doing a lot of things right. Through 16 games, Grand Junction leads the Pioneer League in batting average (.300), on-base percentage (.375), stolen bases (42) and home runs (12). They Rockies are second in slugging percentage (.440) and walks (58).
The Rockies have almost twice as many stolen bases as second-best Ogden, despite stealing only one base in the five games before Wednesday.
Although the pitching numbers, as a team, aren’t as impressive, individual performances give reason for optimism.
Carlos Polanco, a 20-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic, has a 2-1 record with 2.51 ERA over three starts. He’s struck out 14 batters and walked 10, holding opponents to 14 hits. His strikeout total, wins and ERA are among the 10 best in the Pioneer League.
Javier Palacios has logged more innings, 20 2/3, than any other pitcher in the league before games Wednesday night.
Around the Pioneer League
The Orem Owlz, the Advanced Rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, had an eight game winning streak before falling to Grand Junction 6-2 on Friday night. They’ve posted a 12-5 record on the season, best in the Pioneer League, and are three games ahead of second-place Grand Junction in the South Division.
Wednesday afternoon, Orem’s Bo Way and Raul Linares were first and second, respectively, in the Pioneer League in RBI.
Trevor Gretzky, son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, is second in the Pioneer League with a .429 batting average.
The Owlz also have one of the top pitching performers in the league. Arjenis Fernandez, a tall right-hander from the Dominican Republic, boasts a 3-0 record and 2.25 ERA with eight strikeouts and two walks in 16 innings.