Later today, two short-season affiliates of the Colorado Rockies open their seasons and both expect to see plenty of action from players just picked in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft.
Both the Grand Junction Rockies (rookie affiliate) and the Boise Hawks (Class A short-season affiliate) begin their 2019 seasons tonight, with Grand Junction traveling to Orem (Utah) and Boise opening at Salem-Keizer (Ore.). Both teams will reportedly have high draft picks of the Colorado Rockies on their rosters for the game.
As we reported earlier today, second-round pick Aaron Schunk was just named as the 2019 winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. To qualify, a player must have pitched at least 20 innings or have six saves and play in 75 percent of his team’s games.
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When we spoke to Schunk earlier this week at Coors Field, he told reporters (including Rox Pile) that he was heading to Boise to begin his career. He also told us that he would be focusing on his hitting as a third baseman rather than pitching as his professional career begins.
"“I’ve always kind of been partial to hitting. Making a good play at third and then getting to come up and hit,” Schunk said. “Playing defense and hitting has always been my calling.”"
Joining Schunk in Boise is third-round pick Jacob Wallace. The closer for the University of Connecticut was recently named to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings NCAA Division I Northeast All-Region team. The junior was 3-1 with an 0.64 earned run average with 68 strikeouts in 46 innings while registering 16 saves.
Wallace won’t reportedly be available for the season-opener but will be with the Hawks soon.
In this article, ESPN named him as potentially one of the first players from the 2019 draft to reach the Majors. That would mean he would likely join former UConn pitcher Scott Oberg in the Rockies bullpen.
"“Going into the season, I knew I had to be one of top arms if I was going to take the closer role,” Wallace said. “Having that confidence going in really helped me perform last season.”"
Is Wallace a player who embraces the pressure that comes with a closer role?
"“Definitely. I love it. The adrenaline is awesome.”"
Meanwhile, fourth-round draft pick Brenton Doyle is heading to Grand Junction. The outfielder from Shepherd (W.V.) University was the first Division II player selected in this year’s draft. He was a two-time conference Player of the Year and batted .392 this season. He paced Division II in runs scored per game (1.52), crossing the plate 79 times.
"“I do have a pretty good chip on my shoulder,” Doyle said. “There’s a lot of people who doubt me because I played Division II and because of the competition factor. But I played in the Coastal Plains League last summer and was an All-Star, and I’ve competed with the best. I’m ready to prove the doubters wrong and get to work.”"
Doyle is the highest pick and just the third player ever drafted from Shepherd.
"“Keep building in every aspect of my game,” Doyle said of his goals in Grand Junction. “Seeing better competition as well and surrounding myself with great players. There’s a lot of potential that can be fulfilled and I’m excited about getting started.”"