Two Named All-SWAC

Two former Valley Leaguers have been named to the All-SWAC postseason teams, released Monday. Both from Alabama State, our honorees are…

First of all, Tyler Howe (Waynesboro 2015-16) was named the Pitcher of the Year. The press release included this information:Tyler Howe Alabama State 2017

Howe, who was selected SWAC Pitcher of the Week on March 28 and was a SWAC Preseason First-Team selection, led the team in wins with a 7-4 record in 12 starts. He tossed three complete-games, and pitched in 78.0 innings with 83 strikeouts, which ranked second in the conference. This season, Howe became Alabama State’s All-Time strikeout leader (228). He posted a 3.35 ERA with one shutout. The Lakeland, Fla. native ranked 13th nationally in complete games and second in the conference. Also, he ranked third in the conference in victories.

Secondly, Diandre Amion (Purcellville 2016) was named to the second team in the outfield. The press release said the following:Diandre Amion Alabama State 2017

Amion, who was second on the team in batting with a .318 average in 151 at-bats, registered 48 hits, including six doubles, one triple and one home run. He scored 24 times and drove in 25 runs.

Congratulations to both players!



Howard Killing Double-A; Bennie Released

Two noteworthy news items from last night, or, I suppose, recently:

  1. Sam Howard (Staunton 2012) threw the second-best minor league start of the entire 2017 minor league season last night, a 7-inning one-hit shutout. He walked one a and struck out 4. This puts his Double-A numbers at 1-3, 1.61, with 13 hits, 6 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. He has a 0.68 WHIP, and batters are hitting .135 against him. I would not be shocked if Sam bounces to the major leagues at some point this season.
  2. On a sad note, on May 13 the Oakland A’s released former Strasburg Express (2011) Joe Bennie. Joe is coming off a 2016 season in which he was named ATVL’s full season A-ball hitter of the year, after hitting 302/376/449 in 439 at-bats in the California League. He was assigned to Double-A Midland to start 2017, and hit 238/337/350 in 80 at-bats. Over 1,279 career at-bats in the minors, Joe hit a rather robust 275/362/412. He probably struck out too much- 369 times, roughly 25% of his plate appearances- but this release seems pretty quick to me. Perhaps there’s more to the story than what meets the eye.

Minor League Record Book “Movement”

Some of you know that I spent a few weeks working on my overall list of former Valley Leaguers who have played in the major leagues, but at the same time, I was updating both the major league AND the minor league record books. And, of course, being the nerd that I am, I love to keep track of the movement throughout both the major league and minor league seasons.

So, Brilliant Reader, read on to see some movement (and some potential milestones) on the minor league record books.

  • Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) was drafted in 2002, so he’s slowly moving up in a couple categories.
    • Doubles. Erik started the year with 199, in 14th place. He now has 4 on theErik Kratz Columbus 2017 season, putting him at 203, and 11th all time. He passed Tony Thomas (Harrisonburg 2005), Ryan Shealy (Harrisonburg 1999), and Wes Timmons (Winchester 1998-99). Tenth place is held by Tommy Murphy (Staunton 1998), who finished with 205 career doubles.
    • Home runs. Erik started 2017 with 110, in 12th place. He now has 115, and is in 10th place. He passed Jack Voigt (Staunton) and Stephen Smitherman (Winchester 1998-99). Next up, in 9th place, is Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008), who has 120 dingers.
    • RBI. 440 pre-season, which was out of the top 20. Erik now has 450, which is 4 RBIs away from the player at #20- Pat Watkins (Staunton).
  • Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2005-06) is on the leader board several times as well.
    • Runs. Clint had 534 pre-2017, and was in 19th place. He now has 545, and is in 14th place. He passed Timmons, Andy Barkett (Winchester 1992), Joe Koshansky (Staunton 2002-03), Emil Brown (Waynesboro 1994), and Watkins. Clint RobinsonNext up is Kevin Reese (Winchester 1998), who has 546 career runs.
    • Hits- 1,016, 10th place pre-2017. Clint now has 1038. He’s still in 10th place, and is 22 hits away from Murphy at #9.
    • Doubles- 238 before the season, tied for 6th place (with Jon Zuber (Harrisonburg 1991). Now 242, in 6th alone, and 7 doubles away from Barkett in 5th place.
    • Home runs- 141 preseason, tied for 6th place (with Alan Cockrell (Staunton)). Now 146, alone in 6th, but only 1 home run away from 5th place (Christopher Carter (Waynesboro 2001)).
    • RBIs- 587 preseason, in 9th place. Now with 608 (milestone!), and in 6th place, after passing Carter, Shealy, and Barkett. Next is Koshansky with 658.
    • Walks- 409 preseason, tied for 18th (with Joey Butler (New Market 2006), who is still active). Now with 418, he passed Butler and Steve Decker (Front Royal). Koshansky is in 16th place with 420.
    • Batting average- .302 preseason, tied for 12th place. Now at .299, he’s dropped into a tie for 17th place.
  • Joey Butler, as mentioned above, is on the leader board or close in several categories. He has been on the disabled list for a while, so he hasn’t moved as much as Robinson.
    • Runs- 523 pre-2017, tied for 20th place (with Louie Meadows (Staunton)). Now Joey Butlerwith 524, he’s alone in 20th, and 11 runs behind Timmons in 19th.
    • Hits- 941 through 2016, 17th place. He’s now at 946 hits, still in 17th, but 7 hits behind Reese. And 54 from 1,000!
    • 2B- 177 pre-2017, 178 now, and still 14 doubles behind 20th place (Reese and Carter).
    • HR- 90, and has not hit one yet in 2017. #20, Marshall McDougall (New Market 1998), has 92.
    • RBI- 441, now has 443, 11 from #20 (Watkins).
    • Walks- 409, tied for 18th with Robinson. Now has 410, in 18th place alone, 2 walks from Decker.
  • Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010) entered 2017 with 83 home runs. He now has 89, and is only 3 behind McDougall for 20th place.
  • Sherman Johnson (Covington 2009-10) is nearing 20th place on two lists…
    • Triples. Sherman had 29 through 2016, and now has 30. This puts him 2 away from tying for 20th place.
    • Walks. He had 369 before the season, and he now has 390, which is only 5 away from 20th place!
  • Tyler White (Haymarket 2010) is our last hitter.
    • Batting average- started 2017 at .301, in 14th place. He’s dropped to .298, which puts him in a tie for 19th place.
  • Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007) is our first pitcher.
    • Wins- Scott had 52 pre-2017, with put him in a tie for 18th (with Mike Ballard (Staunton 2004)). He has 55 now, which puts him in a tie for 14th place (with Jamie Brewington (New Market 1992)). He passed Mike O’Connor (New Market 2001), Matt Fox (Staunton 2003), and Brandon Dickson (New Market 2006). There is a 4-way tie for #10 with 59 wins- that’s next for Scott.
    • Strikeouts- 529 pre-2017, now has 556. #20 on the list is Ralph Citarella (Staunton) with 654.
  • Stephen Kohlscheen (Harrisonburg 2010)
    • ERA- Stephen was at 3.21 pre-2017, and is now at 3.20. He hasn’t moved from #11. Colter Bean (Winchester 1997) is 10th, with an career ERA of 3.16.
  • Brad Mills (Harrisonburg 2005) deserves a mention here. He’s currently 8th in wins with 62, and 5th in strikeouts with 858, but he has not pitched yet in 2017 due to an injury.

Three Named All-SAC

Three former Valley Leaguers, all from Oklahoma City and the 2015 Harrisonburg Turks, have been named to the Sooner Athletic Conference All-League teams.

First of all, Jared Baker was named Player of the Year, and outfield first team. Jared hit 409/491/798, with 57 runs, 78 RBIs, 21 doubles, 18 home runs, and a solid 26/32 BB/K ratio in 198 at-bats.

Matt Young is first team at pitcher. He went 8-2, 2.63, with 60 hits, 22 walks, and 105 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings.

Joe Lytle was named second team catcher. He hit 403/422/565 in 186 at-bats, with 24 runs, 39 RBIs, 24 doubles, 2 home runs, and an eye-popping 6/7 BB/K ratio. Six walks and 7 K’s in 186 at-bats? Wow.

Congrats to all three!

Mazeika Finishes a “Season”

Patrick Mazeika St Lucie 2017When I was floating around on the other day, basically looking for cool stuff to cover (maybe), I noticed that Patrick Mazeika (Waynesboro 2013) has played in almost exactly 162 minor league games in his career since he was drafted in 2015. The major leagues play 162 games, of course, and the minors play less, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Patrick’s total numbers through what would be a complete “season.”

(By the way, Patrick killed it in the VBL in ’13. In 76 at-bats, he hit 382/552/566, with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home runs, and a 18/17 BB/K ratio.)

After being popped in the 8th round in ’15 by the Mets, Patrick was assigned to Kingsport of the Appalachian League. He moved up to Columbia, the Mets’ Low-A affiliated in the South Atlantic League, and he has moved up another level, to High-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League, in 2017.

Drum roll please………

In his first 162 games and 575 at-bats in professional baseball, Patrick Mazeika is hitting 337/433/497, with 99 runs, 110 RBIs, 194 hits, 53 doubles (53!!), 13 home runs, and 72 walks against 79 strikeouts.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a solid “season.” Here’s to hoping you keep in up, Patrick!

Top 200 Draft Prospects

Each June, the Valley League has a few dozen players drafted by major league teams. (Some years many dozens.) With the draft about a month away, some outlets have started listing their top draft prospect lists.

Today we focus on Baseball America’s top 200 draft list, which includes five former Valley Leaguers. (All stats through May 9th)

30. Nate Pearson (Staunton 2016), pitcher for Central Florida JC. Nate is 5-2, 1.56, with 118 strikeouts in only 81 innings.

88. Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015), outfielder for Lipscomb. Michael is hitting 270/442/362 in 163 at-bats. He has a crazy 42 walks on the season.

147. Garrett Cave (Staunton 2015), pitcher for Tampa. The 6-foot-4 righthander is 5-2, 4.80, with 72 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings pitched.

155. Donnie Sellers (Harrisonburg 2016), pitcher for Wake Forest. Donnie is 3-4, 4.23, with 42 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings pitched.

174. Reed Hayes (Staunton 2015), pitcher for Vanderbilt (was pitching for Walter State when he played in the Valley). Reed is 0-1, 2.87, with 7 saves and 17 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings pitched.

Stay tuned, of course- when June 12-14 rolls around, ATVL will keep everyone updated about who gets a chance to start a pro baseball career!



Update on Major League Pitchers

About a week ago, we took a look at all major league hitters who have a background in the Valley League. Today, let’s take a look at the pitchers! (Stats through May 10)

  1. Like we start the hitters with Daniel Murphy, we start the pitchers with Chris Devenski (Woodstock 2011). Chris has been well-nigh unhittable for the Astros in 2017. He’s 2-2, 2.14, with 2 saves, 10 hits, 3 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. His WHIP is 0.619, BB/9 is 1.3, and his K/9 is an amazing 16.3. His ERA actually reflects some bad luck- Chris’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 1.68.
  2. Let’s stick with Houston’s bullpen, and turn our attention to Will Harris (Staunton 2003). Will has also been superb, as he’s 1-0, 1.17, with 1 save, 14 hits, 2 walks, and 15 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. His WHIP is 0.97, BB/9 is 0.6, and his K/9 is 7.5. No wonder the Astros are 22-11 so far!
  3. Robby Scott (Covington 2010) has pitched in 15 games for the Red Sox, but has amassed only 8 2/3 innings. He’s 0-0, 1.04, with 4 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. If he can reliably retire lefties, he may be in the show for a long time!
  4. Speaking of lefty specialists, here is Josh Edgin (Winchester 2007)! Josh’s numbers are about as good as Scott’s; he’s 0-1, 1.98, with 1 save, and a 1.02 WHIP for the Mets.
  5. Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000), pitching in his 10th major league season (this one for the Marlins), has scuffled a bit to start 2017. He’s 1-2, 4.50, with a 1.57 WHIP. Brad’s FIP is 3.51, so expect things to improve.
  6. Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012) has been in Pittsburgh’s rotation all season so far. After 7 times through the rotation, Chad is 1-3, 5.81, with a 1.61 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, and 7.3 K/9. His BB/9 is up from last year, but so is his K/9. Hopefully he gets a full year in Pittsburgh!
  7. Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008) is on the 60-day disabled list for the Red Sox. He hasn’t pitched yet this year.
  8. Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-08) has been up and down from the Dodgers a couple times this year. He’s appeared in 2 games, and has given up an earned run in 1 1/3 innings.
  9. Emilio Pagan (Harrisonburg 2010) made two appearances for the Mariners before being returned to Triple-A Tacoma. He went 0-1, 16.88 in 2 2/3 innings.
  10. Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10) appeared in only one game for the Twins before being sent back down. He threw 3 1/3 innings and gave up 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 5.
Will Harris Houston

Will Harris letting out some emotion