I do believe that it’s time to update the Valley League transactions. Unfortunately, there are a few releases in here. The information is through April 2nd.
- Kansas City Royals signed Brian Bocock (Luray 2004) as a free agent. Even though it seems Brian has been around forever, he’s only 30, and can still pick it at shortstop!
- The Colorado Rockies signed Shane Halley (Waynesboro 2011), who was released by the Royals after the 2014 season. This is odd- Halley was born in Cuba, and then went to UVA. Might be a story there. They also signed OF Ryan Stephens (Middle Tennessee State) (Staunton 2012) as a non-drafted free agent, and released Jared Simon (Front Royal 2009) and Matt Wessinger (Fauquier 2009). By my count, now with Wessinger released, there are only two Fauquier Gators left in pro ball- Chad Oberacker (2009) and Ryan Dennick (2008).
- The Milwaukee Brewers signed Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), released him, and then resigned him. My hunch is that Chris will be sent to the minor leagues. He’s saved 133 games in the major leagues over his career. They also released catcher Jack Cleary (Winchester 2010).
- In what seems like a theme, the New York Yankees signed Jared Burton (New Market 2001), released him, and then resigned him. Jared threw in 68 games in the major leagues last year for the Minnesota Twins.
- The Baltimore Orioles signed Elih Villanueva (Luray 2007) as a minor league free agent. Elih made one major league start in his career. (And he started the Triple-A All-Star game in 2014!)
- The Texas Rangers released LHP Scott Cousins (Harrisonburg 2005). Ah, Scott Cousins. Might be best known for running over and injuring San Francisco’s Buster Posey in a play at the plate… before the MLB rules-makers outlawed collisions. Scott was trying to stick as a lefty pitcher. (He was a two-way player in college at San Francisco.)
- The Arizona Diamondbacks released Al Yevoli (Staunton 2010-11), Justin Van Grouw (Harrisonburg 2011), Tyler Bortnick (Front Royal 2006), Jon Griffin (Luray 2010), and Justin Gonzalez (Covington 2010). Poor Al Yevoli. I believe this is the 3rd time he’s been signed and released, and he’s only pitched in 11 games in the minors. Bortnick played in Triple-A, just one small step away, for parts of three seasons…Griffin hit four home runs in one game last year, but that seems to not be enough… Van Grouw threw 6 shutout innings in Triple-A in 2014.
- The Cleveland Indians released Rob Nixon (Front Royal 2009).
- The Los Angeles Angels released Jake Boyd (Luray 2011), Dillon Ortman (Harrisonburg 2012), Kevin Johnson (Haymarket 2009), and Ben Carlson (Woodstock 2012). Boyd pitched in 2 games in Triple-A in 2014, and guess where he went to high school? John Leonard High School in Greenacres, Florida! Carlson actually threw very well in the Angels’ system, going 7-3, 2.65, with 24 saves and a 1.24 WHIP in 95 total innings. Johnson also was a closer; he saved 43 games over 5 seasons in the minors.
- St. Louis released Jeff Rauh (Woodstock 2010).
- The San Francisco Giants released Adalberto Santos (Woodstock 2008). Adalberto was drafted by the Pirates in 2010, and also reached Triple-A.
- The Tampa Bay Rays released Matt Ford (New Market 2011-12) and Julian Ridings (Waynesboro 2012). Ford was just signed as a free agent in 2014. Ridings had an unbelievable Valley League season in 2012- he hit .419, the 2nd best league batting average since 2004!
- The Atlanta Braves released Blake Austin (Harrisonburg 2011). Blake got a whole 38 at-bats in pro ball.
- The Detroit Tigers released Alex Lakatos (Winchester 2011), and Jacob Butler (Covington 2013). Lakatos got to pitch in 3 pro games, while Butler, to the best of my knowledge, threw in none.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers released Pat Christensen (Harrisonburg 2011). Pat has thrown very well in the minors, but has now been released by the Astros and Dodgers. He’s 6-3, 3.51, with 84 strikeouts in 82 innings in the minors.
- The Minnesota Twins released Tony Thomas (Harrisonburg 2005). This is a even-more-sad-than-normal one. Tony was drafted 8 years ago in the 3rd round by the Chicago Cubs. He’s played in 811 minor league games!
- The New York Mets released Tyler Vanderheiden (Front Royal 2010-11).
- Oakland released Drew Granier (Harrisonburg 2009-10). Drew was working his way steadily up the chain, and reached Triple-A last year. He struck out 483 batters in 500 minor league innings.