After several torrid months of uneventful proceedings, a break in the clouds has made itself apparent for baseball fans as college baseball is in full swing at all levels now. If you’re like me, you may not have a specific college team that you follow. It can be overwhelming with how many teams and division classes there are and the conglomerate of collegiate competitors that you find on streaming services such as ESPN+. With so many choices, I figured it may be helpful to whittle things down and focus on the colleges that connect back to our beloved Rockies players. So, buckle up and let's look for a team to bandwagon on while MLB tries to figure itself out like a freshman in a philosophy class.
Georgia Institute of Technology- (Charlie Blackmon)
Charlie Blackmon spent just two seasons with Georgia Tech (2007 and 2008) and had to redshirt one of those seasons due to a pitching injury. While he was a successful pitcher in high school and junior college, Blackmon transitioned to hitting in 2008 and the rest is history. Blackmon played in all 62 games that season slashing .396/.469/.564 and led the team in hits (99), runs (68), triples (3), total bases (141), and stolen bases (25).
Blackmon earned second-team All-ACC honors along with an Academic All-America second team that season which boded well heading into the draft. The Rockies drafted Blackmon in the second round of the 2008 draft and he has been with the organization ever since. The Yellow Jackets currently play in the ACC and are looking to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2006.
University of Utah- (C.J. Cron)
The Cron-zone was alive and well in Salt Lake City, UT, during C.J. Cron’s three years at the University of Utah. The former Ute slashed .396/.459/.713 with 46 home runs and 198 RBI in 157 games. Cron earned numerous honors during his college career, including being named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011, MWC Freshman of the Year in 2009, and a multi-time All-American. In 2011 he led the MWC in batting average (.434), slugging percentage (.803), on-base percentage (.517), hits (86), RBI (59), home runs (15), and total bases (159). The Utes play in the Pac-12 and are looking to rebound from a 17-33 season in 2021.
Long Beach State- (Garrett Hampson)
A Dirtbag in a good sense, Garrett Hampson hails from a prominent baseball program at Long Beach State where he played from 2014 to 2016. In 174 games, Hampson slashed .303/.367/.385 with 215 hits (seventh-most in school history) and 50 stolen bases (third-most). Hampson was named the Big West Conference Freshman Player of the Year in 2014 after batting .308/.346/.392 in 60 games.
In 2015, Hampson became one of the leading offensive producers for the Dirtbags, leading the team with 64 hits, 38 runs, and 18 stolen bases while posting a .296 AVG. His final season in 2016 saw Hampson become the Defensive Player of the Year and once again lead the team in hits (75), runs (55), and stolen bases (23). That speed has obviously been a key part of Hampson’s game, and he has been a proud product of Long Beach State. His Dirtbags are looking to improve on back-to-back third-place finishes in the Big West.
University of Evansville- (Kyle Freeland)
Colorado’s native son hails from Indiana out of the University of Evansville. Kyle Freeland’s best season with the Purple Aces came in 2014 when broke out and was named the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year and became the first player in school history to earn five All-American honors. In 14 starts, Freeland went 10-2 with an absurd 1.90 ERA with 128 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 99 2⁄3 innings and helped lead the team to a conference championship in 2014.
He ended his college career with an 18-15 record, 3.55 ERA, 282 strikeouts, and 60 walks in 284 innings, all while sitting high up on numerous team record lists. Like several of the other teams on this list, the Purple Aces are trying to find a way back into a conference championship for the first time since 2014.
There are plenty of other colleges that you can explore that have ties to the Rockies. There is Connor Joe’s San Diego University and Sam Hilliard’s Wichita State University, as well as Daniel Bard’s University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All these players had strong college careers, like the others mentioned in this article.
If you need some other Rockies connections to a college team, you could follow Matt Holliday as the hitting coach at Oklahoma State University, Troy Tulowitzki as an assistant coach at the University of Texas. Regardless of who you may gravitate towards, there is plenty of talent in the college ranks, and in your endeavors to watch a current Rockie’s former team, you may just be witnessing the next generation of Rockies.
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It’s a well-known fact among people close to me that I am a huge fan of The Simpsons. It’s one of my favorite shows (at least through the first 13 seasons) and I am constantly quoting the show with my three older brothers. Daniel Brown of The Athletic compiled a collection of interviews from the big league players that starred in this legendary third season episode of the show. The fact that Jose Canseco turned out to be a huge jerk during the process of the episode is just one of the many interesting tidbits I learned from this article.
The Rockies have sported a wide variety of random players over the years that spent just one season with the team, but were still fairly notable players in their overall careers. Noah Yingling does a great job compiling a list of players that could give any team a run for their money if they were playing on the Rockies in their primes.
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