Five Selected in Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 draft was held yesterday, during the last day of the MLB Winter Meetings. Count me as one of the nerds who gets pretty excited about what unprotected players might be moving elsewhere.

While no VBLers were chosen in the major league portion of the draft (which means they would have to stay in the major leagues for the 2018 season or be offered back to the original team), five were chosen in the Triple-A portion. There are no stipulations on these players; they can just stay in the minors all year long.

It’s still exciting though; each of the selected players have shown something that made them attractive to another organization.

Here they are:

  1. Joe Odom (Winchester 2012), was selected by the Seattle Mariners (original team: Atlanta). Joe has battled injuries for much of his career, but he has a good bat (he was one of the triumvirate in Winchester who annihilated the VL pitchers in 2012, along with Jimmy Yezzo and Leo Rojas).
  2. Jay Gonzalez (Harrisonburg 2011) was selected by Arizona (original team: Baltimore). Jay is faaaaast. He’s 10th in the modern-day record book with 122 career steals, and tied for 9th with 43 in one season- in 2016.
  3. Jacob Wilson (Luray 2009) was picked by the Nationals from the Cardinals. Jacob hit 248/337/417 in Double-A in 2017.
  4. Chris Nunn (Winchester 2010) was selected by the Houston Astros (from the Chicago Cubs). Chris has had an interesting career so far. He spent 2012-2015 in the San Diego Padres’ organization, and was released. He spent 2016 out of baseball, but signed with Evansville of the independent Frontier League for 2017. He pitched in one game, striking out 9 in 5 innings, and was scooped up by the Cubs. Now the Astros grabbed him.
  5. Kaleb Fleck (Waynesboro 2008,2010), picked by the Nationals from the Diamondbacks. Kaleb might join Jacob Wilson at Syracuse in 2018. He also ranks 9th (tied) in career saves in the modern day minor league record book.

Good luck to all five players- may you all be called up to the major leagues in 2018!

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A Look at Patrick Mazeika, Prospect

Patrick Mazeika St Lucie 2017Continuing the theme of checking in with prospects that have a background in the Valley League, today we have Patrick Mazeika (Waynesboro 2013).

(Previous players covered are Sam Howard (Staunton 2012), Tyler White (Haymarket 2010), and Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015).)

Mazeika, an 8th round draft pick of the Mets in 2015, shows up at #25 in the Mets system per mlb.com, climbing up four spots from the preseason. He crushed at Stetson for three seasons, and also crushed for Waynesboro in ’13.

At Stetson, Patrick hit 348/469/484 in 620 at-bats, with 123 runs, 216 hits, 42 doubles, 3 triples, 12 home runs, 113 RBIs, and a fantastic 99/53 BB/K ratio. In his very short Valley League stint, Patrick hit 382/552/566 in 24 games and 76 at-bats… with 15 walks against 14 strikeouts.

This is what mlb.com says about Patrick:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 30 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

Scouts will often say that guys who hit find their way to the big leagues. The way Mazeika has swung the bat, first during three years at Stetson and thus far since he joined the Mets organization, he looks like he could hit his way up to New York.

A left-handed hitter with a very strong approach, Mazeika has walked nearly as often as he struck out during his pro career. While he does have some extra-base ability, he’s not likely to be a huge over-the-fence power guy, so the Mets would like to see him use the whole field more consistently. Mazeika’s defense behind the plate remains a work in progress, both his fringy arm — an elbow injury that delayed his full-season debut by a month didn’t help — and his overall receving skills. He has made some strides, but he still has a ways to go.

Mazeika has played first base in the past but doesn’t really have the power profile for the position. He’ll continue to focus on getting better behind the plate, though he’s always likely to be a bat-first catcher should he be able to stick there.

It’s true that he can hit:

  • 2015, Kingsport, Appy League: 354/451/540 in 226 AB, 24/26 BB/K- ATVL’s Rookie Level hitter of the year
  • 2016, Columbia, South Atlantic League: 305/422/402 in 239 AB, 38/39 BB/K
  • 2017, St.Lucie, Florida State League: 287/391/406 in 352 AB, 48/53 BB/K
  • 2017, Binghamton, Eastern League: 333/391/571 in only 6 games

I would expect Patrick to start 2018 in Double-A Binghamton, with a good chance to both move up to Triple-A and/or make the major leagues!

Patrick Mazeika NY Mets

Schimpf Traded, Edgin, Kratz Sign

Three transactions of importance have happened in the last few days:

First of all, Josh Edgin (Winchester 2007) has been signed as free agent by the Baltimore Orioles. Drafted in the 30th round in 2010, Josh made his major league debut on July 13th, 2012. He has appeared in 177 major league games since then, going 4-4, 3.49, with 2 saves, a 1.279 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and 8.1 K/9 in a total of 129 innings pitched. He has been worth 1.7 WAR in his career, according to baseball reference.

Josh is not exactly a lefty-killer, but he has been a little bit better against lefties than righties. Against left handed batters, in 295 plate appearances, Josh 223/296/367. Against right handed batters, in 249 PA, Josh is 254/352/362.

I imagine Josh has a shot to make the O’s opening day roster, and if he doesn’t make the major league club, he’ll most likely go to Triple-A.

Secondly, the San Diego Padres have traded Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008) to the Tampa Bay Rays for Deion Tansel. Ryan was a 5th round pick in the 2009 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He made his major league debut in 2016 with the Padres, and has played in 142 games in 2016 and 2017. In 527 plate appearances, Ryan has hit 195/317/492, with 72 runs, 19 doubles, 5 triples, 34 home runs, and a 69/175 BB/K ratio. Back in the old days, 34 home runs in 527 plate appearances would equal a starting spot, but it looks like the Rays have acquired Ryan to be depth at both second and third base. (The Rays are far from done this offseason, it looks like, so who knows?)

Thirdly, the New York Yankees, seemingly in the middle of adding some guy named Giancarlo Stanton, have also signed former VBLer and ATVL friend¬†Erik Kratz (Waynesboro, Harrisonburg 2000-2001). Erik, who will be 38 years old in June of 2018, was a 29th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays way back in 2002. (Erik is the second oldest former VBLer who is still active- the oldest is……. Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000), who is roughly 8 months older than Erik. Strange to think that Erik may have batted against Brad a whopping 17 years ago.) Erik started 2017 in Columbus, Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, but was sold to the Yankees on August 31st. Erik went on to appear in 4 major league games for the Bronx Bombers during their playoff push. He will most likely play in Triple-A for the Yanks in 2018, but be available if, say, their two catchers both get in a benches-clearing brawl and get suspended. That would be weird, huh?

Erik Kratz NYY 2017downloadpi-mlb-padres-ryan-schimpf-091416-vadapt-980-high-60

Minor League Record Book: Stolen Bases in a Season

Our second-to-last minor league record book for hitters…. but we still have the pitchers!

Anyway, today we have stolen bases…

2006-2017
1 Rico Noel Covington ’08 2012 90
2 Rico Noel Covington ’08 2011 62
3 Rico Noel Covington ’08 2013 59
4 Mike Mitchell Staunton ’06 2008 55
5 John Raynor New Market ’04 2007 54
6 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2010 53
7 John Raynor New Market ’04 2008 48
8 Patrick Norris Harrisonburg ’07 2009 45
9 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2009 43
Tyler Bortnick Front Royal ’06 2011 43
Jay Gonzalez Harrisonburg ’11 2016 43

Rico Noel owns this list, for obvious reasons. His 90 stolen bases in 2012 is more than double the total of the numbers at the end of the list. John Raynor and Tyson Auer are on the list twice as well. Jay Gonzalez is the “newest” entry with his 43 stolen bases in 2016.

All-Time
1 Rico Noel Covington ’08 2012 90
2 Gene Richards 1975 85
3 Rico Noel Covington ’08 2011 62
4 Juan Pierre Harrisonburg ’97 1999 66
5 Antoan Richardson Winchester ’03 2006 66
6 Rico Noel Covington ’08 2013 59
7 Gary Jones Waynesboro ’82 1983 58
Brett Gardner New Market ’03-04 2006 58
9 Doug Dascenzo Front Royal 1986 57
Mike Wenner Front Royal 2000 57
11 Kennard Bibbs Harrisonburg ’01 2003 55
Mike Mitchell Staunton ’06 2008 55
13 John Massarelli Front Royal 1990 54
John Raynor New Market ’04 2007 54
15 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2010 53
16 John Raynor New Market ’04 2008 48
17 Juan Pierre Harrisonburg ’97 2000 47
18 David Eckstein Harrisonburg 1998 45
Patrick Norris Harrisonburg ’07 2009 45
20 Allen Battle Front Royal 1992 43
Antoan Richardson Winchester ’03 2007 43
Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2009 43
Tyler Bortnick Front Royal ’06 2011 43
Jay Gonzalez Harrisonburg ’11 2016 43

Just look at the names on this list. Noel, Gene Richards, Brett Gardner, Juan Pierre, David Eckstein… some pretty famous players! Also, every single player on the 2006-2017 list is on the all-time list as well- I think that’s the only time this happens in the whole record book.

#9 Reliever: Thomas Nicoll, Strasburg

Thomas Nicoll Florida AMThe 9th best reliever in the 2017 Valley League season is Strasburg’s Thomas Nicoll!

The 6-foot righthander, a senior at Florida A&M, put up the following stats for the Express last summer:

Stras ERA W L G SV IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 1.92 0 2 10 0 18.7 16 11 4 5 22 0.222 1.123 2.4 10.6

Of pitchers surveyed for this list, Thomas finished 8th in BB/9. His best game was probably his first, when he threw 3 shutout innings against the New Market Rebels on June 3rd.

Thomas spent his first two college seasons at Tallahassee Community College before transferring to Florida A&M in 2017:

ERA W L G SV IP H R ER BB K WIP BB/9 K/9
2015 5.04 1 2 11 0 30.3 39 26 17 14 22 1.749 4.2 6.5
2016 3.65 6 0 19 0 37.0 33 19 15 20 37 1.432 4.9 9.0
2017 3.24 3 3 24 3 41.7 40 20 15 16 36 1.343 3.5 7.8

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Thomas!

Thomas Nicoll high school

Thomas from a few years ago…

A Look at Chris Huffman, Prospect

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Chris Huffman is a name that should be well known to folks in the Valley- not only did he play in the VBL for two season (Staunton, 2012-2013), but he went to Fort Defiance High School, and then JMU for three seasons.

After those seasons with the Dukes, Chris was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 14th round in 2014. He hasn’t blown away the prospect community, so to speak, but he has steadily performed at each level, and now finds himself on the cusp of the major leagues.

Let’s take a look at his stats over the years:

  • 2012, with the Staunton Braves: 0-1, 4.35, 20 2/3 innings, 19 hits, 10 walks, 19 strikeouts
  • 2013, with the Braves again: 1-1, 2.07 in 6 games, 6 K’s in 8 2/3 innings (3 saves). He also went 0-1, 1.22 in 7 1/3 playoff innings.
  • 2014, after getting drafted, with Eugene in the Northwest League: 0-1, 4.26, 19 IP, 1.421 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
  • 2015, with Fort Wayne of the Midwest League: 9-6, 3.28, 107 IP, 1.224 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 4.9 K/9
  • 2016, with Lake Elsinore of the California League: 1-5, 3.78 in 131 IP, with a 1.290 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and 6.7 K/9
  • 2017, with three different teams and three different levels (Lake Elsinore again, Double-A San Antonio, and Triple-A El Paso): 8-8, 3.18 in 144 1/3 IP, 1.261 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
  • In his minor league career, he’s 27-20, 3.45 in 401 1/3 innings, with a 1.268 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and 6.5 K/9.

The 25-year old was named a San Diego “Organization All-Star” for his performance in 2017, along with the following writeup:

Climbing three levels, Huffman led Padres right-handers with a 3.18 ERA while placing fourth in the system with 144 innings pitched.

“He throws strikes. He’s very intelligent.,” [Director of Player Development Sam] Geaney said. “Going forward, we can see him in a variety of roles. He definitely has value as a starter and he put himself on the radar for us, and I imagine for other organizations, with his strike-throwing.”

I find the addition of “I imagine for other organizations” to be rather interesting here. Chris was not added to the Padres’ 40-man roster, so he is eligible to be chosen in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft (December 14). Is Geaney anticipating Chris will be chosen? I suppose the comment could also hint at Chris as trade bait, but I’m not sure why an organization would trade for him if they could have a shot at picking him in the draft next week.

Anyway, Chris, congratulations on being chosen as an Org All-Star, and good luck wherever you may be pitching next year!

Chris Huffman 2017

Minor League Record Book: Walks in a Season

Next up: walks in one minor league season. You’ll see some new names on here, Brilliant Reader!

2006-2017
1 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2015 89
2 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2014 88
3 AJ Kirby-Jones Waynesboro ’09 2012 86
4 Tyler White Haymarket ’10 2015 84
5 Tyler Bortnick Front Royal ’06 2011 79
Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2012 79
Joey Butler New Market ’06 2012 79
Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 2013 79
9 Rob Kral Waynesboro ’09 2013 78
10 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2016 74

The name here, of course, is Sherman Johnson. Sherman is on this list three times, for the seasons 2014-2016. His plate discipline has earned him a spot on some prospect lists in past years, but he’s coming up on his age-28 season, so he’s not considered a “prospect” anymore. I really think he can help a major league team, though!

Johnson, Tyler White, Joey Butler (free agent), and Ryan Schimpf are all still active.

All-Time
1 Gary Jones Waynesboro ’82 1984 138
2 Gary Jones Waynesboro ’82 1986 128
3 Gary Jones Waynesboro ’82 1983 126
4 Gary Jones Waynesboro ’82 1987 123
5 Gene Richards 1975 116
6 Billy Sample Harrisonburg ’75 1978 109
7 Frank Menechino Harrisonburg ’92 1997 105
8 Jeff Manto Front Royal 1987 102
Shawn Fagan Front Royal 2002 102
10 Frank Menechino Harrisonburg ’92 1995 96
11 Dan Pasqua New Market ’81 1984 95
12 Cliff Pennington Harrisonburg 2008 93
13 Mark Davidson Winchester ’82 1985 92
14 Lauro Felix Harrisonburg ’91 1996 92
15 Gene Richards 1976 91
Jeff Manto Front Royal 1989 91
17 David Eckstein Harrisonburg 1999 89
Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2015 89
19 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2014 88
20 David Eckstein Harrisonburg 1998 87

Welcome to the Gary Jones list! Holding down the top four spots is pretty significant. Jones has to have one of the most interesting minor league stat lines for players who never reached the major leagues. In 8 minor league seasons, Gary hit 283/437/370, with 783 walks to only 542 strikeouts. He topped out in Triple-A. But, he’s been the Chicago Cubs’ third base coach the past couple years, so that’s pretty cool. Will he get a managing gig someday?

Gene Richards, Frank Menechino, Jeff Manto, Sherman Johnson, and David Eckstein all appear twice. And there’s Cliff Pennington at #12, currently a free agent at the major league level.