PORTLAND, Maine -- Acquired in the offseason and given a seal of approval from the Colorado Rockies, reliever Austin House has strived in his new organization, riding the successes of this season to his first professional All-Star Game. And he hopes to parlay that into a trip home.
As he stood on sun-drenched Hadlock Field taking in the Eastern League Home Run Derby, the New Britain Rock Cats closer was happy to be able to reward the Rockies' faith in him by representing the organization at the midsummer classic. He's also thinking of where he could be next, should things continue to progress in a positive direction.
"I was pretty excited about it," House said of being selected to the Eastern Division All-Star roster. "Obviously, I wanted to start off on the right foot with the Rockies. Doing this puts me in a good spot. Anything I can do to open their eyes is big; they traded for me. I'm pretty excited to be here, this is a good venue."
A 2012 14th-round selection of the Oakland A's, House racked up 33 saves and 190 strikeouts over 189 2/3 innings -- mostly in relief -- over his first three seasons as a pro.
In December, the Rockies acquired the 6-foot-4 right-hander for first baseman Mark Canha and instilled confidence in him, which he has repaid with a league-best 19 saves in 34 appearances.
"They said that they had a lot of confidence in me, which obviously gives me confidence in myself," House said. "Just knowing that these guys view me as a pitcher and a valuable one at that, I'm very thankful for that. They gave me a chance to close for a little while. I hit some walls, ups and downs, but that's going to happen in the season. I think I've shown the organization that I don't ride my highs and lows too much."
"You want to have faith in your guys when they go out and get the ball and so far this year, he's done a really good job," said Rock Cats teammate and fellow All-Star Shane Carle. "He's been really consistent, he works hard and he gets good results."
Enjoying the fruits of those results at the Eastern League All-Star Game, House was able to touch base with fellow New Mexico native and Albuquerque Baseball Academy alum Blake Swihart [in Portland on a rehab assignment]. But despite his family being unable to attend his first All-Star game, House said he knows that if he stays on track, the next stop would be home.
Prior to the season, the Rockies not only traded for House but switched their Triple-A affiliate to the Albuquerque Isotopes, giving him an opportunity for a hometown return that might be the only thing that could surpass his first All-Star experience.
"It would be a dream come true," House said of continuing his career in Albuquerque. "I grew up watching the Dukes, then it became the Isotopes. Guys like Paul Konerko, Mike Piazza, I used to watch when I was kid. So to be able to go home and possibly play for the Isotopes I think would be really cool, not only for my friends and family but myself as well."