MiLB update: Sam Howard fires six shutout innings in impressive weekend start
The regular season for Minor League Baseball wraps up at the end of August and the MiLB playoffs are usually completed within the first days of September.
While two locals are shut down for the season, Grant DeBruin, Sam Howard, and Connor Justus will continue through the month.
Saturday, Howard (photo courtesy MiLB prospects) had his best start at the Double-A level and one of his best starts as a pro. DeBruin has remained steady in the heat of the summer months and Justus is in the midst of a four-game hitting streak.
DeBruin's Hagerstown Suns have also 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 will now begin 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 summer with a surge in late July and early August. He has hit safely in six of his last ten games and snapped a three game hitless streak Sunday with a 1-for-3 game at Lexington although the Suns lost to the Legends, 1-0.
Through 62 games this season, DeBruin is now hitting .267 with four home runs and 27 RBIs at 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 30-26 in the SAL second half, currently two and one-half games behind the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies affiliate). 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 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 28-22 in the South Atlantic League’s second half standings, in second place, four and one-half games behind the Southern Division leading Augusta GreenJackets (SF Giants affiliate).
Sam Howard — Hartford Yard Goats — Double-A, Eastern League — MLB Parent Club, Colorado Rockies -- (Cartersville HS)
Howard picked up a victory Saturday by working six shutout innings against Trenton. He scattered six hits, walked three, and recorded three strikeouts in the victory. Howard has now won five of his last seven 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 now 9-9 on year after starting the season 4-3 with the Advanced Class A, Modesto Nuts of the California League. He has a 3.47 ERA in 24 starts and 135 innings. He has 124 strikeouts. Opponents have a .256 batting average against him.
The Yard Goats are 70-55 on the year and in third place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division. They trail the Reading (PA) Fightin’ Phils by 11.5 games.
Connor Justus — Burlington Bees — Class A, Midwest League — MLB Parent Club, Los Angeles Angels -- (Cartersville HS)
After a fast start with the Rookie level Orem Owlz, Justus has continued his progress with a solid start for the Class A (full season) Burlington Bees of the Midwest League.
Justus had a rough stretch at the plate in early August, but has currently hit safely in five of his last six games. Justus was selected in the fifth round of this year’s June MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
Justus’ batting average remains .275 through his 54 games as a professional combining his Orem and Burlington numbers. He has 11 extra base hits, including one home run and 29 RBIs.
Defensively, Justus has a .952 fielding percentage in 228 total chances. He has been part of 27 double plays in 461 innings.
The Burlington Bees are 29-27 in the second half standings of the Midwest League’s Western Division and are 61-65 overall in 2016. The Bees are currently 12 games back of division-leading Clinton LumberKings (Seattle affiliate).
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 19-17 in the second half standings of the California League’s South Division. They are currently 5.5 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.