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Rockies take Howard

GSU lefty selected in third round of draft

Rockies take Howard

Rockies take Howard

Georgia Southern's Sam Howard deliver...




    The Colorado Rockies couldn't pass on Sam Howard.
    The left-handed pitcher from Georgia Southern was selected on Friday in the third round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Rockies. He was the 82nd pick of the Draft, which came exactly a week after Howard pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout against Florida State in the NCAA tournament.
    Howard, who locates each of his four pitches for strikes and throws a fastball in the low 90s, has been on MLB radars all season. Howard said he expected to be a third- or fourth-round pick before the NCAA regionals, and his dominant performance against the Seminoles certainly didn’t hurt.
    “I think it definitely made their decision to pick me a lot easier,” Howard said on the phone Friday. “I was hearing third round before the regionals, but after I pitched against Florida State, it just showed people that I could compete at a high level.”
    Howard had exposure to the Rockies last summer. When he pitched in the Cape Cod League, a wooden-bat league for the nation’s elite players, the family that Howard stayed with once hosted Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu.
     “We had the same host family from when he played in the Cape Cod League, and he came by this summer when I was in Boston and stayed a couple of nights,” Howard said. “He had tickets for me behind home plate, but I had to pitch that night.”
    Howard, who was named Southern Conference Pitcher of the Month for May after compiling a 3-0 record over the SoCon tournament and at FSU, started worrying when the phone didn't ring after the draft resumed Friday morning. His worries proved unfounded when he heard his name on TV.
    “Really I was just speechless,” Howard said. “It caught me off guard. We were waiting for the phone to ring and it never did, and then I heard my name called on the TV.”
    Howard, a junior, spent most of the 2014 season as the Friday night starter. He compiled a 2.35 ERA, with 94 strikeouts to only 22 walks in 95.2 innings. He helped lead GSU to the program’s sixth and final SoCon championship.
    “It’s been unbelievable,” Howard said about his three years at GSU. “I’ll miss it a lot and I enjoyed every minute of it. I got to play with guys like Chris Beck and Victor Roache, and now I’ve gotten to experience what they experienced.”
    Beck and Roache were drafted in the second and first rounds respectively in the 2012 Draft. Both are currently working their way through the Minor Leagues.
    Howard plans to keep in touch with the team, and will definitely be back to collect his hardware from the championship season.
    “I’ll be coming back this fall to get that ring,” he said.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.

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