Suplizio Stadium opened to a new $8.3 million renovation this year after it was announced the former team known as the Casper Ghosts would be moving to the Western Slope of Colorado and the Grand Junction Rockies were born. The Grand Junction team is the lowest minor league affiliate for its parent club the Colorado Rockies. Often players that are assigned here are freshly picked from the most recent amateur draft, or it's the first stop off the island for players from the Dominican League.
This year's crop of new Rockies has heavy draft flavor thanks to changes in the new CBA contract for the Major Leagues. The signing period for new draftees was moved from August to July 15th and a structured slotting system and draft cap confined teams with how much they were able to pay a new player. These forces worked in the fans favor as players signed earlier and played right away.
Last season the Rockies first round selection Tyler Anderson waited until the last minute to sign his contract and completely missed the 2011 season. In 2010 Kyle Parker was the Rockies top draft pick and the same thing happened. But not this year, David Dahl was selected in the first round and signed his contract right away which allowed him to play for the Grand Junction Rockies. In addition to Dahl, the young Rockies on the roster include: Max White, Eddie Butler, Ryan Garvey and many other fresh new faces.
Player videos after the jump:
Eddie Butler was drafted in the 1st round with the 46th pick by Colorado. He's a pitcher who displays a lively 96mph fastball and a sweeping strikeout slider. He has a fairly compact throwing motion that tends to whip a little to generate velocity. He commands both sides of the plate well with his fastball. On this day Butler went 4 scoreless innings and allowed only two hits while striking out 3 batters.
Colorado native Ryan Warner was drafted with the 34th pick in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Pine Creek HS in Colorado Springs. Warner is a tall 6'7" lanky kid with a smooth delivery who seems to hide the ball during his delivery. There's not a lot of wasted motion in his windup and his fastball bores in on the hands, he reminds me a little of a righthanded Jeff Francis. He also throws a nice curve and a third pitch that really drops, could be a splitter or a knuckle-curve, although he rarely threw it. Warner was rocked for a homerun on his second pitch which I was lucky enough to capture. He settled down after the longball and ended up throwing 4 innings and allowing only one more hit and a walk to go with three strikeouts.
David Dahl is a rising star in the Rockies organization who's smile burns brighter than the sun. The fun part about watching Dahl is how much he's truly enjoys playing the game. The front office didn't miss on this first round selection out of Oak Mountain HS. He has leadership skills that remind me of Trevor Story where guys are always gathered around him looking to him for direction. He has quick hands and hips which helps him turn on fastballs and react to offspead pitches to drive the ball the other way. He didn't have many chances in the outfield, but he covers ground smoothly and has a decent arm.
This was a fun game to watch with a dramatic ending. It started with two outs in the bottom of the 8th when catcher Franmy Pena was hit by a pitch. The next three batters were Matt Wessinger, David Dahl, Ryan Garvey and I'll let these three videos tell the story: