MiLB update: DeBruin is hot heading into playoffs; Howard to start Goats' Labor Day season final
The 2016 MiLB regular seasons wrap up for most teams Labor Day Monday and three players with local ties look to contribute for their respective clubs through the final day.
Grant DeBruin (photo left) and the Hagerstown Suns will begin the South Atlantic League playoffs Wednesday, while Sam Howard of the Hartford Yard Goats will get the ball for his team's regular season final game.
Meanwhile, Connor Justus and the Burlington Bees will also conclude their season on Labor Day.
MiLB regular seasons usually end in early September to match up with the MLB's September roster call-ups.
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 enjoyed a late summer surge at the plate for the Suns.
Entering Sunday night’s game at Asheville, DeBruin has hit safely in seven straight games and in eight of his last ten. He also has three multi-hit games during that stretch with two RBIs. DeBruin has played in 75 games after spending the opening portion of the year in extended spring training for the Nationals. He saw limited time with the Advanced Class A Potomac Nationals before settling in with the Hagerstown Suns of the Class A South Atlantic League. For the year, he is hitting .272 with five homers and 32 RBIs. He has been utilized as a DH and has played 54 games at first base with a .994 fielding percentage. The Suns wrap up the regular season on Labor Day with an afternoon game at Asheville before opening the SAL playoffs at Lakewood on Wednesday.
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 qualified for the post-season by winning the South Atlantic League's Southern Division second half title. The playoffs begin Wednesday.
Sam Howard — Hartford Yard Goats — Double-A, Eastern League — MLB Parent Club, Colorado Rockies -- (Cartersville HS)
Howard tossed seven shutout innings in his start August 31 at Richmond, but did not receive a decision although the Yard Goats went on to win the game 3-2 in the 11th inning. Howard left the game with the score tied at zero. He scattered seven hits and one walk against the Flying Squirrels in the start and struck out five.
Howard started the 2016 season at Advanced Class A Modesto of the California League before receiving a promotion to the Double-A Hartford club.
He has a 9-9 record in 26 starts. His next scheduled start is Labor Day at Harrisburg in the Yard Goats season finale’. Howard has worked 149 innings and has a 3.38 ERA. He has accumulated 134 strikeouts against only 52 walks. Opponents are hitting .255 against him.
Connor Justus — Burlington Bees — Class A, Midwest League — MLB Parent Club, Los Angeles Angels -- (Cartersville HS)
Justus has gone 3-for-6 in his last two games against Quad Cities at home with a pair of RBI. He added a sac fly in Sunday’s game. The Bees (36-33 in second half) won the first two games of the season-ending series, 5-0 and 6-5. Burlington wraps up the regular season Labor Day with the River Bandits. Justus started the season with the Orem Owlz of the Rookie Pioneer League before being promoted to Burlington of the Class A Midwest League. In 67 games as a professional, Justus is hitting .275 with two homers, 13 extra base hits, and 32 RBIs. He has an on base percentage of .395. Defensively, the shortstop has a .955 fielding percentage in 289 total chances. He has been part of 37 double plays in 568 innings. Justus was a fifth round pick by the Los Angeles Angels in the June 2016 MLB draft. He joined the Angels organization following his junior season at Georgia Tech.
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.
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.