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Justus enjoying hot start to July

Connor Justus, Inland Empire 66ers

Former Cartersville High School and Georgia Tech shortstop Connor Justus is riding his best streak of the 2017 season at the plate for his Advanced Class A California League team, the Inland Empire 66ers.

Heading into Sunday night’s home game with Rancho Cucamonga, Justus has hit safely in eight consecutive games and has a pair of two-hit games in that streak.

Since July 1, he has gone 9-for-28, raised his batting average by 11 points, and doubled three times in games at Lake Elsinore and in home series with Stockton and Rancho Cucamonga.

He has a .321 batting average for the month of July.

Justus is a second-year pro who was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.

After being drafted last summer, Justus hit .344 with 23 RBIs in 26 games at Rookie Level with Orem, Utah and quickly rose to the Angels’ Class A level team in Burlington, Iowa. There he hit .230 with a pair of home runs over 42 games and finished his initial year in professional baseball with a .276 mark and 32 RBIs.

Following 2017 Spring Training, Justus was promoted again and assigned to the Advanced Class A 66ers of the California League.

Connor Justus, Inland Empire 66ers

Defensively, the 22-year-old middle infielder has continued to show why he was a high-level draft choice. In 72 games (71 at shortstop, 1 game at second base) he has a .953 fielding percentage in 280 total chances. He has also been part of 38 double plays.

It is at the plate where Justus' years started slowly. He had only four hits in his first 34 official at-bats.

From that point, he has shown some offensive flashes of his rookie year and has bashed five homers, but has lacked the consistency he exhibited in the 2016 campaign at the previous levels.

He has collected 42 walks in 2017 and as a result has kept his on-base percentage at .327.

Inland Empire finished the first half standings in the California League South Division with a 30-40 record. The Lancaster JetHawks of the Colorado Rockies organization won the first-half division title. The league is now 17 games into the second half of the schedule and Inland Empire has a 9-8 mark. The 66ers currently trail Rancho Cucamonga of the Dodgers’ organization by one game.

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