Harrisonburg’s Rose Swinging Hot Bat
Written By Nick Sunderland
Daily News Record
Harrisonburg – Harrisonburg Turks infielder Matt Rose plays his college baseball at Georgia State in Atlanta, meaning the 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior has familiarized himself with big-city living.
The Melbourne, Florida, native isn’t complaining about the scenery surrounding his temporary home for the summer, though.
“It’s a cool view; a lot of mountains to look at,” said Rose, who is in his first season with the Turks. “They do (have mountains in Georgia), but not like they have ’em here.”
There aren’t many players who have a stat line like Rose’s so far during the 2014 Valley Baseball League season, either.
As of Monday, Rose – who has split time in the field between first and third base – is batting a sizzling .408, good enough for the third best overall mark in the wooden-bat collegiate league among players with at least 2.7 plate appearances per game. Harrisonburg, 7-5 after a three-game winning streak, returns to action Wednesday night when it travels to face Front Royal.
Rose is one of three Georgia State players on Harrisonburg’s roster, the others being a pair of returnees from last season’s team: current roommates Garrett Ford (pitcher) and Joey Roach (catcher).
That Georgia State-to-Harrisonburg pipline comes courtesy of longtime Turks owner/manager Bob Wease’s relationship with assistant Panthers coach Edwin Thompson. When Wease was acting solely as Harrisonburg’s owner in the 1990’s, Thompson played one season as an outfielder with the Turks.
Thompson contacted Wease to pitch his three players as potential Valley League contributors, and that was all it took for the 70-year old skipper to bring them aboard.
“Everything he had told me has actually been exactly what has happened,” Wease said of the scouting report Thompson offered on Rose. “…(Rose) has done a great job for us.”
The one concession Wease did make in bringing Rose onto the team was using him exclusively as a fielder. In Georgia State’s first Sun Belt Conference series of the 2014 season, Rose – who was selected as a right-handed pitcher by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 24th round of the 2012 amateur draft – said he strained the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.
Rose did not throw for the remainder of the season and says his recovery is still ongoing. The injury, however, has done little to slow his bat.
“After taking a break from the regular season, I was surprised how fast I recognized pitches and how good my swing was,” he said.
Las summer, Rose spent his summer playing in Atlantaa’s Sun Belt League. The talent level in the Valley, he said, is in a different class. A self-described power hitter, Rose belted 11 home runs during his sophomore season with the Panthers while logging the team’s third-best batting average at .312.
He said his motivation to join the Turks was to simply have fun and stay in “baseball shape.” Although he’s one of the quieter players in the clubhouse, Wease said Rose has had little trouble fitting in so far with his new teammates.
“He’s a first-class ball player,” Wease said, “and he will get drafted – probably next year – and go on to play a lot of baseball.”