Did You Know?

A bit of a mish-mash about Valley League alumni…

Did you know…..

  • That four former VBLers are currently playing in Aberdeen, the Orioles’ short season team in the New York Penn League? They are William Reed Hayes (Staunton 2015), Zach Jarrett (Woodstock 2014), Trevor Craport (Harrisonburg 2016) and Ben Breazeale (Harrisonburg 2014).
  • That, speaking of Craport, he’s exploded in August? He’s hitting 422/493/594, with 9 doubles in 64 at-bats.
  • That David Carpenter (Covington 2004) was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in July out of the Independent Leagues? David was pitching for Bridgeport of the Atlantic League, where we went- check out these numbers- 1-3, 1.91, with 30 saves in 39 games. In 37 2/3 innings, he allowed 27 hits, 12 walks, and struck out 45 batters.
  • That Chris Nunn (Winchester 2010) was signed, also out of the Independent Leagues, by the Chicago Cubs? Chris made a start Friday night for Double-A Tennessee. It didn’t go so well, but he has his foot back in the door!
  • That Patrick Mazeika (Waynesboro 2010) was promoted to Double-A Binghamton? After hitting 287/389/406 in 100 games in High-A, Patrick is hitting 400/471/733 in 6 games at Double-A so far.
  • And that the team in Binghamton is called the “Rumble Ponies?” What in the world is a rumble pony?
  • That Jack Leathersich (Haymarket 2010) has struck out 63 batters in 40 Triple-A innings for Iowa? He’s also thrown 2/3 of an inning for the Cubs. It didn’t go well.
  • That Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) has hit 12 home runs this season for Triple-A Columbus, giving him 122 career minor league homers?
  • That Robby Rinn (Aldie 2013) has a hit in 15 straight games for Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League? Overall, he’s hitting 357/439/536 in 207 at-bats.

League Record Book: Slugging Percentage

Our latest entry in the league record book from 2004-2017 is slugging percentage. Let’s get right to it…

1 Zach Sterry Waynesboro 2016 0.745
2 Tyler Townsend Winchester 2008 0.739
3 Jon Love Front Royal 2004 0.731
4 Mac Williamson Harrisonburg 2011 0.706
Joseph Odom Winchester 2012 0.706
6 Jimmy Yezzo Winchester 2012 0.679
7 Ryan Sullivan Covington 2012 0.676
8 Steve McQuail Front Royal 2009 0.669
9 Collin Cowgill Covington 2005 0.659
10 Bradley Picha Winchester 2012 0.657
Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 0.657

Zach Sterry had an MVP season in 2016; his name is peppered all over the record book. No one from 2017 reached the threshold, although Trevin Esquerra (Purcellville) ended with a .655 slugging percentage- pretty darn close.

Major Leagues: Mac Williamson, Collin Cowgill
Current minor leaguers: Zach Sterry, Joseph Odom
Previous minor leaguers: Tyler Townsend, Jimmy Yezzo, Steve McQuail, Julian Ridings
No affiliated ball: Jon Love, Ryan Sullivan, Bradley Picha

Waynesboro (2): Sterry, Ridings
Winchester (4): Townsend, Odom, Yezzo, Picha
Front Royal (2): Love, McQuail
Harrisonburg (1): Williamson
Covington (2): Sullivan, Cowgill

Zach Sterry Oakland

Sterry with Oakland

 

Hitter #15A: Alec Aleywine, New Market

Alec Aleywine Gulf Coast CCOur #15A hitter (the numbering gets easier as we go) is the 6-foot-2, 260 pound first baseman and left handed pitcher Alec Aleywine, from Gulf Coast State!

The New Market Rebel played a very important role in the team’s first winning record in four seasons, pulling double duty both at the plate and on the mound.

And he hit very well, too. Here are his seasonal hitting stats:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 37 140 34 44 6 0 3 33 31 29 8 2 0.314 0.436 0.421
Play 3 12 1 5 2 1 0 1 2 2 1 0 0.417 0.500 0.750

Alex finished 10th in the league in on-base percentage, 1st in walks, tied for 5th in RBIs, 6th in runs, and was named 2nd team All-Valley at “utility” (for players who both hit and pitched). He also went 4-0, 3.82, with a 1.37 WHIP in 37 2/3 innings on the mound.

For Gulf Coast, as a freshman, Alec did this:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 43 152 33 48 8 0 4 27 21 34 5 0 0.316 0.401 0.447

Rather comparable to what he did in New Market! He also went 2-1, 6.26, with a 1.73 WHIP in 23 innings pitched.

Congratulations, Alec!

Alec Aleywine resized

Alec playing first base at Rebel Park

 

 

League Record Book: On-Base Percentage

The next category for our Valley League record book for the years 2004-2017 is on-base percentage. We had three players join the batting average list from 2017, but none have joined on this one.

Take a look:

1 Nick Sinay Front Royal 2014 0.534
2 Jordan Tarsovich Strasburg 2013 0.522
3 Cole Gruber Waynesboro 2014 0.518
4 Luke Greinke Winchester 2007 0.517
5 Ryan Sullivan Covington 2012 0.516
Blake Sipe Staunton 2012 0.516
7 Mike Schwartz Harrisonburg 2009 0.508
8 Mike Marcinko Waynesboro 2014 0.502
9 Tyler Townsend Winchester 2008 0.500
10 Jason Kipnis Covington 2007 0.498

So it turns out that no one has cracked the list since 2014!

Major leaguers: Jason Kipnis
Minor leaguers, but no longer: Cole Gruber, Luke Greinke, Mike Schwartz, Tyler Townsend
Still in minor leagues: Nick Sinay, Jordan Tarsovich
No affiliated ball: Ryan Sullivan (but I believe he played in the independent Frontier League), Blake Sipe (playing in RCBL), Mike Marcinko

Sinay, by the way, was ATVL’s #10 hitter in the league in 2014. Also by the way, Michael Wielansky (Charlottesville) led the 2017 crop with a .484 OBP.

nick-sinay-front-royal-2014.jpg

Sinay in Front Royal in 2014- on base, of course

#15B Hitter: Bruce Strickland, Covington

Bruce Strickland Felician 2017The first hitter that we will celebrate this offseason is Bruce Strickland, the 6-foot-1, 200 pound shortstop from Felician College!

The returning Covington Lumberjack came a little late- his first game was on June 17- but he had an excellent summer in the middle of the Lumberjack lineup. Here are Bruce’s stats for the last two years in the Valley:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2016 31 100 10 26 4 1 0 13 6 12 0 0 0.260 0.325 0.320
Play 4 16 4 10 0 1 0 2 0 1 1 1 0.625 0.625 0.700
2017 31 119 23 39 9 3 4 27 2 14 0 2 0.328 0.339 0.555

(The “Play” under 2016 is the line for his playoff performance in 2016.)

As you can see, Strickland added quite a bit of power to his game for 2017, increasing his slugging percentage 235 points, while also adding 68 points to his batting average. Bruce finished 5th in the league in slugging, tied for 9th in RBIs, tied for 6th in home runs, tied for 4th in triples, and tied for 10th in doubles. He was voted first-team All-Valley at 3B. And this is why Strickland is our #15B hitter of the 2017 Valley League season! 

The rising senior has also put up excellent numbers for Felician. Take a look:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2015 44 142 25 50 9 2 0 25 14 20 9 1 0.350 0.434 0.441
2016 55 224 40 66 8 5 0 24 18 33 16 7 0.295 0.355 0.375
2017 50 196 52 67 18 6 1 31 10 13 6 1 0.342 0.410 0.510
Tot. 149 563 117 183 35 13 1 80 42 66 31 9 0.325 0.394 0.439

A 325/394/439 career over 563 career at-bats is nothing to sneeze at! With another solid season in 2018, perhaps Bruce will be drafted next June.

Congratulations on your excellent summer season!

Bruce Strickland Felician

Baseball America Top 100 Prospects

Baseball America publishes a list of their top 100 prospects each year, and have done so since 1990.

So, you know what I had to do, Brilliant Reader… here is every Valley League alumnus who has been named in the history of the BA 100 list!

1990-1997: None

1998: Mike Lowell, #71, 3B, New York Yankees (Waynesboro 1993)

1999: None

2000: Adam Everett, #76, SS, Houston Astros (Winchester 1996)
Aubrey Huff, #98, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (Staunton 1997)

2001: Jon Rauch, #4, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Harrisonburg 1998)
Aubrey Huff, #43

2002: Jon Rauch, #92

2003: Jon Rauch, #92

2004-2005: None

2006: Cliff Pennington, #83, SS, Oakland A’s (Harrisonburg 2003)

2007: None

2008: Chris Perez, #97, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Staunton 2004)

2009: Yonder Alonso, #35, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (Luray 2006)

2010: Yonder Alonso, #45

2011: Jason Kipnis, #54, 2B, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07)
Yonder Alonso, #73

2012: Yonder Alonso, #33
Cory Spangenberg, #78, 2B, San Diego Padres (Winchester 2010)

2013-2017: None

If I had to guess who will make the list in the coming year, I would say Nate Pearson (Staunton 2016) had a solid shot, especially with his velocity (he’s hit 100+ on the radar gun a number of times).

So, if you’re keeping score at home, 9 different players have been named a top 100 prospect. Two come from Harrisonburg, Winchester, and Staunton, and one comes from Waynesboro, Luray, and Covington. Every single one of the nine has had a nice career in the major leagues.

Mike Lowell Boston Red Sox

Mike Lowell with the Red Sox

League Record Book: Batting Average

One of the things ATVL does in the offseason is take a look at the “league record book,” which is a list of the top performers SINCE 2004. (That’s an important distinction, by the way. Stats from before that were unavailable, so I use what I have.)

These stats also include playoff numbers, but do not include the all-star game or any showcase events.

So let’s get started, shall we? Today we’ll have what might be the most interesting category, since three 2017 VBLers crashed this list- batting average!

1 Michael Wielansky Charlottesville 2017 0.428
2 Brad Zebedis Strasburg 2011 0.420
3 Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 0.419
4 Luke Greinke Winchester 2007 0.417
5 Gunnar McNeill Staunton 2014 0.414
6 Shane Billings Harrisonburg 2015 0.406
7 Jordan Tarsovich Strasburg 2013 0.405
8 Dominic Canzone Front Royal 2017 0.404
9 Cory Spangenberg Winchester 2010 0.399
10 Joe Kemp Harrisonburg 2004 0.396
11 Blake Sipe Staunton 2012 0.396
12 Max Wood Staunton 2017 0.389
13 Mike Garza Woodstock 2010 0.388

(By the way, I am adding players without deleting any, so some of the lists will have more than 10. I’m trying to build the lists back up to 20, if possible. It’s more interesting with more names, wouldn’t you say?)

Three 2017 players grabbed spots on the list; Michael Wielansky, obviously #1, #8 Dominic Canzone, and #12 Max Wood. We now have 8 Valley Leaguers who have hit .400 or better in the last 14 years.

We have one major leaguer on this one: Cory Spangenberg (San Diego Padres). Two more players are currently in affiliated ball: Shane Billings, who is playing in the Cardinals’ system for Palm Beach in the high-A Florida State League, and Jordan Tarsovich, in Double-A for the Oakland A’s system.

Four more players were in affiliated ball, but are no longer. They are #3 Julian Ridings, #4 Luke Greinke, #10 Joe Kemp, and #13 Mike Garza.

The last three, ones who did not play affiliated ball, are #2 Brad Zebedis, #5 Gunnar McNeill, and #11 Blake Sipe (who is playing in the Rockingham County Baseball League). Zebedis hit 328/402/501 in four years at Presbyterian, and also hit 303/363/424 in the Cape Cod League in 2012… and didn’t get drafted. Hard to believe.

By the way, Chaz Weaver lists the highest batting average in the history of the VBL as .466, by Lou Meadows, who played for Staunton in 1981.

Wielansky resized

Michael Wielansky, our new leader of the batting title record book!