By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Former Fort Gibson Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners pitcher Billy Waltrip signed a contract with the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday and will report to the Rockies’ Class A Pioneer League affiliate in Grand Junction, Colo., on Sunday.
The left-hander and 2010 Phoenix Most Valuable Player was selected by the Rockies in the 12th round of the Major League draft this past weekend. He’s one of two OU pitchers who signed with Colorado. Jonathan Gray, the ace of the Sooners’ staff, was the third overall pick in the draft and signed his contract on Wednesday and will join Waltrip in Colorado.
“I don’t know that we’ll wind up in the same place, but it’s nice to have a teammate in the same organization,” Waltrip said. “All in all I just felt it was time to go fulfill a dream.”
At least one other Sooner will be in the league. Former Keys ace Jake Fisher signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers who sent him to the Ogden Raptors. Fisher was a 30th-round selection.
The short-season, or second half, begins June 20.
Waltrip was a 12th-round pick last year by the Baltimore Orioles but chose to attend OU after two seasons at Seminole State. He was the 349th pick overall, 23 spots higher than last year.
He was 2-3 with a 5.15 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 36 innings for the Sooners this year, making three starts and 17 appearances in relief duty. Some control issues this season might have kept his draft stock from improving. He was 7-2 with 91 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings and an ERA of 1.60 at Seminole in 2012.
“I wasn’t all that pleased with my season but I think I’ve worked through some of that and I hope the adjustments transfer over to the next level,” Waltrip said. “I’m looking at it as a chance to fulfill a dream and I’m going to work hard to achieve it.”