HARLOW_ROCKIES

Former James Madison University baseball standout and Stonewall Jackson graduate Colton Harlow pitches outside Ashby Lee Elementary School in Quicksburg last year. After being released by the Colorado Rockies' organization in the offseason, Harlow has signed with independent league squad Lake Erie Crushers. 

Colton Harlow is ready for a second chance.

The 2014 Stonewall Jackson graduate and former James Madison University pitcher signed in December with the Lake Erie Crushers. Lake Erie is a member of the Frontier League, which is an independent baseball league not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

"I'm very excited," Harlow said in a phone interview Monday. "I'm thankful that I'm getting another chance to play. I'm just really hoping that I can stay fully healthy."

Harlow suffered bicep tendonitis last season when he was playing for MLB's Colorado Rockies' Class A Asheville Tourists in Asheville, North Carolina.

He said it was the same injury he had at the start of his JMU career.

"I struggled with the injury a little bit at the beginning of my college career," Harlow said. "Then I knew as soon as I felt that little bit of pain in my arm I was like 'here it comes,' and it hit me heavy."

The left-hander pitched in 12 games for Asheville and was having a strong season before the injury. Harlow had 35 strikeouts with six walks in 22 innings for Asheville and 1-0 record as a relief pitcher.

The Rockies then sent him back to Boise, Idaho, to rehab and play for their Class A-short season squad the Boise Hawks.

"Things were just not going my way," Harlow said. "I was having a lot of problems locating with my injury. My (velocity) stayed the same, but my pitches didn't have the stuff on them I was used to having. So pitchers we're definitely taking advantage of that."

Harlow said that after the season was over he got a call from the Rockies, who drafted him in the 30th round of the MLB draft in 2018, saying they were releasing him.

"It was kind of heartbreaking, but at the same time I somewhat saw it coming just because of the injury I had and the way my season ended," he said.

Harlow said that he was coaching a team at the Andy Bradley Baseball Academy in Washington, D.C., when he got a call from Lake Erie to play for them this season.

"I figured it wasn't time to hang the cleats up quite yet," Harlow said. "So I took the offer and I'm just hoping that we're still going to play this season."

Harlow said it is a professional league and he will be getting paid to play.

He said the team sent him an e-mail recently saying that they weren't going to start on April 24 as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lake Erie Crushers are based out of Avon, Ohio. They play in the Can-Am Division of the Frontier League, which is made up of 15 teams from the U.S. and Canada.

Harlow said from he's heard it's a very competitive league with many players just like himself trying to make it back into the Major League system.

Harlow, who has been working with Woodstock Chiropractor Cully MacDonald, said his arm feels much better.

"My arm feels really, really good," Harlow said. "Everything that I've been working on with Cully (MacDonald) – my arm just feels a lot looser. I feel much more effortless. So some of the exercises, I think, have helped other things, not only the bicep tendonitis. So I think it's going to be very beneficial for me."

Harlow said he's been pitching with his dad, Bill, and Central graduate Mason Marston as much as he can.

Harlow said the biggest thing he learned from his time with the Rockies is to not take anything for granted.

"I was pitching the best I had ever pitched in my life with Asheville, and once this injury came around it just kind of all slipped away," Harlow said.

He said that if he can get back to the level he was at before his injury last season, he feels confident he can make it back to the Major League.

"(Before my injury) I felt incredible," Harlow said. "I was just pitching at a very, very competitive level and my confidence was at an all-time high. So if I pitch well and produce and stay healthy I definitely feel strongly about getting signed by another (Major League) affiliate. It's just one of those things where you have to be around the right people at the right time and do the right things at the right time. So I just hope and pray that those opportunities will be presented to me."

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com