As we approach the final days of August, we also reach the final days of the Minor League Baseball regular season schedules.
MiLB regular seasons usually end prior to the September 1 call-up date for the Major League parent clubs. The MiLB playoffs are usually completed within the first few days of September for those clubs playing for league titles.
While two MiLB players with local connections are shut down for the season, Grant DeBruin, Sam Howard, and Connor Justus continue chasing the dream in the “dog days” of August.
DeBruin's Hagerstown Suns have clinched a post-season berth due to their performance in the South Atlantic League's first half. Howard's Hartford Yard Goats and Justus' Burlington Bees, however, appear to be just outside the playoffs this year.
Dalton Geekie, who pitched at Georgia Highlands College and now toils for the Rome Braves, suffered a season ending injury, had Tommy John surgery and is in the midst of his rehab.
Donavan Tate, a Cartersville High standout and former first round pick of the San Diego Padres, only appeared in a handful of games for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the Advanced Class A California League. They are an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Below, we have updates on the players with local ties.
Grant DeBruin — Hagerstown Suns — Class A, South Atlantic League — MLB Parent Club, Washington Nationals -- (Adairsville HS)
The former Adairsville High School and University of Alabama-Huntsville standout has continued a consistent late summer stretch at the plate for Hagerstown playing as a DH and at first base, while batting in the middle of the Suns’ order. In his two most recent games, DeBruin was 3-for-8 with one RBI in the final two games of a home series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Through 70 games this season, DeBruin is now hitting .266 with five home runs and 31 RBIs playing at Potomac and Hagerstown. DeBruin, 26, spent the first part of the year in extended spring training and was briefly at the Advanced Class A level with the Potomac Nationals. Hagerstown is 36-27 in the SAL second half, currently three games behind the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies affiliate). Hagerstown already clinched a post-season spot, however, by winning the division’s first half.
Dalton Geekie — Rome Braves — Class A, South Atlantic League — MLB Parent Club, Atlanta Braves -- (Georgia Highlands College)
Geekie is on the disabled list for the remainder of the season by the Braves and was forced to have Tommy John surgery after developing an issue in his elbow August 1. Geekie finished his first pro season with a 2-4 record and had a 5.16 ERA in 31 appearances in 2016. He had one save in his only save opportunity and worked 45 and 1/3 innings. Opponents had a .247 batting average against him.
Rome is currently 38-25 in the South Atlantic League’s second half standings, leading the division by one-half games over the Augusta GreenJackets (SF Giants affiliate).
Sam Howard — Hartford Yard Goats — Double-A, Eastern League — MLB Parent Club, Colorado Rockies -- (Cartersville HS)
Howard worked seven solid innings August 25 in his most recent start, but received no decision as Hartford lost 6-4 on two runs in the tenth inning. Harrisburg scored four runs off Howard in the top of the third, but he otherwise tossed six shutout innings.
Howard yielded six hits and a walk. He struck out five. Howard has now won five of his last eight starts for the Yard Goats with victories July 16, July 27, August 3, and August 14 and Saturday. He had a no-decision performance July 22 and suffered a loss August 9 during that span.
The 23-year-old former Cartersville High and Georgia Southern University pitcher is currently 9-9 on year after starting the season 4-3 with the Advanced Class A, Modesto Nuts of the California League. He has a 3.55 ERA in 25 starts and 142 innings. He has 129 strikeouts. Opponents have a .255 batting average against him.
The Yard Goats are 72-61 on the year and in third place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division. They trail the Reading (PA) Fightin’ Phils by 12.5 games and have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Connor Justus — Burlington Bees — Class A, Midwest League — MLB Parent Club, Los Angeles Angels -- (Cartersville HS)
Justus had a strong series August 26-29 as the Bees traveled to Peoria. The former Georgia Tech shortstop was 5-for-15 with a double in the final three games of the series against the Chiefs. After a fast start with the Rookie level Orem Owlz, Justus was promoted to the Class A (full season) Burlington Bees of the Midwest League.
Justus had a rough stretch at the plate in early August, but has consistently been in the lineup for the Bees since his arrival, typically hitting in the six hole in the order. Justus was selected in the fifth round of this year’s June MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
A fifth round pick by the Los Angeles Angels in this summer’s MLB draft, Justus’ batting average remains .274 through his 62 games as a professional combining his Orem and Burlington numbers. He has 13 extra base hits, including a pair of home runs and 30 RBIs.
Defensively, Justus has a .952 fielding percentage in 271 total chances. He has been part of 34 double plays in 526 innings.
The Burlington Bees are 33-31 in the second half standings of the Midwest League’s Western Division and are 65-69 overall in 2016. The Bees are currently 10 games back of division-leading Clinton LumberKings (Seattle affiliate) and have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Donavan Tate — Rancho Cucamonga Quakes — Advanced Class A — California League — MLB Parent Club, Los Angeles Dodgers
Tate played in ten games after coming off the disable list to start the season. He has a .143 batting average in 35 at bats with a home run and four RBIs. He has played defensively at both corner outfield positions and has been utilized as a designated hitter, but has not seen action since July 6. The Quakes are 35-28 in the second half standings of the California League’s South Division. They are currently 2 games behind the Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros affiliate).
To check on these local players any time, use the 'Athletes Beyond Bartow' page of this web site to locate active links to each players statistics, schedules, results, and other team information.