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Justus, DeBruin stay hot; MiLB 'Athletes Beyond Bartow' report for local players

The summer may be heating up, but so has the play for two minor league baseball players with ties to Cartersville and Bartow County. Connor Justus has started his professional career with solid defensive play and a hot bat for the Rookie Pioneer League Orem Owlz, while Grant DeBruin has heated up for the Hagerstown Suns in recent days after a slow start coming out of extended spring training.

MiLB players with local ties to Cartersville and Bartow County:


Grant DeBruin Hagerstown Suns

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 had a 4-for-5 game Sunday that included a home run and five RBIs as his Hagerstown Suns team defeated the Delmarva Shorebirds 9-5. The homerun was the DeBruin’s third of the year.

DeBruin, who has recently raised his season batting average to .248, has recently been starting at third base for the Suns. He has also played first base and been utilized as a designated hitter since joining Hagerstown. He has seven doubles and 28 hits in 113 at bats in 33 games played. 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 10-8 in the SAL second half, currently three games behind the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins affiliate) in the Northern Division. Hagerstown already clinched a post-season spot 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 has a 2-3 record with a 5.18 ERA in 25 appearances in 2016. He has one save in 40 innings of work and opponents have a .232 batting average against him. The most recent appearances for the former GHC Charger were July 4 and July 8. On Independence Day, Geekie pitched the sixth and seventh innings of a 6-5 home victory over the Greenville Drive. He allowed no runs and no hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

July 8, Geekie was utilized in the seventh and eighth innings of an 11-4 home loss to the Hickory Crawdads. He recorded one strikeout and was charged with two earned runs on five hits and no walks.

Rome is currently 9-9 in the South Atlantic League’s second half standings, in third place, three game behind the Southern Division leading Augusta GreenJackets (SF Giants affiliate).


Sam Howard Hartford Yard Goats

Sam Howard — Hartford Yard Goats — Double-A, Eastern League — MLB Parent Club, Colorado Rockies -- (Cartersville HS)

Howard’s most recent start was in an 11-4 home loss to Binghamton. He completed four innings on the mound and pitched to three more batters in the fifth in suffering his fifth straight loss. The visiting Mets’ affiliate picked up seven earned runs on ten hits and three walks. Howard struck out four.

The 23-year-old former Canes and Georgia Southern University southpaw is now 4-8 on year after starting the season 4-3 with the Advanced Class A, Modesto Nuts of the California League. He has a 3.74 ERA in 17 starts and 96 and 1/3 innings. Opponents have a .249 batting average against him.

The Yard Goats are 48-40 on the year and in third place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division. They trail the Reading (PA) Fightin’ Phils by 14 games.


Connor Justus Orem Owlz

Connor Justus — Orem Owlz — Rookie level, Pioneer League — MLB Parent Club, Los Angeles Angels -- (Cartersville HS) Since joining the professional level after this year’s MLB draft, Justus has been nothing but consistent at the plate. The former Cartersville Hurricanes and Georgia Tech shortstop has hit safely in 16 of 19 games and has five multi-hit games in that same stretch.

Justus is currently on a five-game hitting streak. The current streak comes on the heals of a six-game streak that was interrupted for only one game during the first game of a doubleheader July 6.

During the current streak, Justus is 9-for-19 with a triple, two doubles, and six RBIs. He spent the early part of the season hitting in the middle of the Owlz’ order, but has recently been placed in the No. 2 spot in the order. For the season, he has a .333 batting average in 66 at bats. He also has driven in 15 runs and coaxed 13 walks. His on-base percentage is .463.

Defensively, Justus has a .986 fielding percentage (only one error) in 74 total chances. He has been part of 10 double plays in just over 161 innings.

The Owlz are currently in first place in the Pioneer League South Division with a 15-8 record. Orem leads Colorado Rockies’ affiliate, Grand Junction, by three games in the standings.


Donavan Tate — Rancho Cucamonga Quakes — Advanced Class A — California League — MLB Parent Club, Los Angeles Dodgers

(Cartersville HS)

Tate has now 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. After driving in a run with a 1-for-4 effort July 1, he was hitless in games he started July 4 and July 6. He did drive in a run and walked twice against the Inland Empire 66ers July 6. He has played defensively at both corner outfield positions and has been utilized as a designated hitter. The Quakes finished in second place in the California League’s South Division during the first half of the season. They currently sit in second place again in the second half with a 10-8 record. They trail the Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros affiliate) by one game.


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.

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