As the High Point Rockers get ready for their much-touted home opener on Thursday, May 2, another baseball team just a few miles away from shiny new BB&T Point stadium made a little noise themselves.
The High Point- Thomasville HiToms, which began playing baseball about nine decades ago and will be competing directly with the Rockers for fans this summer, had an alumni make it to the big show this week.
On Thursday, April 25, former HiToms pitcher Matt Ramsey made his Major League Baseball debut for the Los Angeles Angels. Ramsey was put into the game in the ninth inning in the Angels’ 11-5 win over the New York Yankees. He closed out that game without allowing a run or a hit during his one inning of pitching.
HiToms owner Greg Suire said after the game that this is indicative of the HiTom’s program and the caliber of player it produces.
“This is just another example of the developmental power of the HiTom’s brand,” Suire said, “Matt’s story is an amazing testament to his perseverance.”
Suire has said before that, although the new Rockers team will go head to head with his organization in the competition for area fans, the HiToms have some advantages in that battle. For instance, he said, they have deep roots into the community going back decades and they also have promotional programs in area schools that are very well received and that excite the kids.
Suire has also argued that the caliber of baseball played by his team is higher than what will be seen on the Rockers team. He has even challenged the Rockers to a game, but, as of yet, the new area team hasn’t taken him up on that offer.
Suire has stated that the players on the HiToms – and in the Coastal Plain League – are players on the way up, while the players on the Rockers team, he has said, are, for the most part at least, players on the way down.
Ramsey is now one of 12 HiToms alumni to play in the major leagues.
Originally drafted in the 19th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays out of the University of Tennessee, he spent the 2018 season with the Houston Astros organization. He later joined the Angels organization in the offseason and this week made his major league debut.
Ramsey played for the HiToms in 2009. He’s now the third former Coastal Plain League player to make a major league debut in 2019 – and the 120th all-time to do so.