In his effort to make the Boulder Collegians into a legitimate minor league atmosphere for college-level baseball players over the summer season, general manager Matt Jensen is pleased to get the chance and go right to the source.
In what can only be described as a unique opportunity, the Collegians will travel to Grand Junction this summer and play an exhibition contest against the Rockies Rookie level farm team based on the Western Slope.
The game will take place on June 15 at Suplizio Field, two days before the Grand Junction Rockies open their official league slate.
"That is just a really big treat for us," Jensen said on Wednesday, the opportunity coming by way of Jensen's relationship with former Mesa State coach Byron Wiehe, now the Collegians co-director of baseball operations.
The Rookie short-season teams are comprised of players who have just been drafted by respective major league clubs. As an example, last year's first round pick of the Rockies, Brendan Rodgers, played 37 of the team's 76 games. Many of them are fresh out of high school or have a couple of years of college under their belts.
The Grand Junction Rockies were named the top short-season club in the country recently by Baseball America, which takes into consideration business success, operational practices and community involvement.
While the Collegians have adhered to those traits since the revival of the team back in 2013, Jensen said he's looking forward to the opportunity to take some things away from what the Rockies have done.
There is also a challenge in the way of matching up talent-wise, a task Jensen isn't brushing off.
"I really can't wait for the chance to meet with their staff and really see what they do," said Jensen. "I'd love to see how their game day operations run, and maybe take a page out of their book.
"Actually getting to play a minor league organization, we get to hold ourselves to that standard of play on the field. We've been building our roster to make sure that we can compete against guys at that level. We were invited to do this, and we want to keep doing it ... you get blown out 15-0 and you're probably not going to get another invite."
The bigger picture for Jensen and the club is to get more people to realize the legitimacy of the Collegians within the community. Home games are at Scott Carpenter Park, but the club has been limited to just seven home dates this year (they play 45 games) due to circumstances beyond Jensen's control.
One of those dates is reserved for the first ever Rocky Mountain Baseball League all-star game, which Jensen is hanging his hat on as a well-attended event. There are also plans of opening a "beer garden" on Collegians game days.
Recruiting efforts have increased once again as Division I athletes become Jensen's primary targets, and he said there are still opportunities for families to volunteer as hosts for out-of-state players. Those interested can contact Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.