Gigliotti, Albanese Off to Scorching Pro Starts

Two former Valley Leaguers have had significant pro debuts, even though they were drafted in different years.

First of all, Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015) was drafted 12 days ago by the Kansas City Royals in the 4th round. He signed for a bonus of $397,500 (awesome), and was assigned to Rookie level Burlington, in the Appalachian League. Batting leadoff and playing in center field, Michael had a debut to remember on Thursday, June 22nd, when he hit two home runs (one a 2-run shot, one solo), and walked for good measure. In his second game, the next night, Michael had another hit and another walk. So after two games, he’s 3-7, with 3 runs, 3 RBIs, and 2 home runs.

Secondly, Matt Albanese (Aldie 2014) was the first Valley Leaguer drafted in 2016- in the 7th round, by the Minnesota Twins (the 2016 draft was not a good one for the VBL). He signed on June 21st, 2016, and was assigned the next day to Elizabethton, also of the Appy League. But because of a ligament tear in his wrist, he never made his pro debut.

Now, a year later and back in Elizabethton, Matt has made his debut, and what a debut it was. On Friday, June 23rd, Matt played in both games of a doubleheader, and went 4-6 with 2 runs and an RBI. The next day, he played again, and went 3-3, with 2 walks, 2 runs, and 2 RBIs. So after his first three pro games, Matt is 7-9, with 3 doubles, 4 runs, 3 RBIs, and 2 walks.

Obviously, this is just a beginning, but what a beginning it has been for these two players!

Five Excellent Minor League Starts….

I’m sure no one would be surprised to hear that I track every started game by former Valley League pitchers in the minor leagues. Some nights they struggle, some nights everyone does well, and most nights there is a mix.

Last night, however, there were five starts that range from pretty good to amazing. Here they are, in order of awesomeness…

  1. Austin Gomber (Luray 2012), for Double-A Springfield- 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K’s, no decision, a game score of 71. Tied for the 10th best start of the season so far.
  2. Ryan Castellanos (Harrisonburg 2014), for Connecticut in the Low-A New York-Penn League- 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, win, game score of 67. It was Ryan’s 2017 debut!
  3. Mike O’Reilly (Woodstock 2014), for Low-A Peoria- 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K’s, the win (his 5th), game score of 66. Mike has the two highest game scores of the season so far. This start wasn’t as good as those, but he’s still lights out!
  4. Steven Ridings (Charles Town 2014-15), for Low-A Everett- 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K’s, the win, game score of 60. Steven has pitched in 5 games in 2017… in 4 different levels. Ridiculous, eh?
  5. Chris Huffman (Staunton 2012-13), for Double-A San Antonio- 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s, the win (his 3rd at San Antonio, and 4th overall in 2017), game score of 57.

Combined, the five went 4-0, with a 1.78 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. (30.1 IP, 16 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 8 BB, 22 K’s) Well done!

 

Statistics and Observations about the 2017 Draft

I’ve been keeping track of the draft since 2006- for 12 years now. I think it’s worthwhile to take a look at how this one stacks up. First, we will look at some statistics from 2017, and then some comparisons.

Here are some statistics about this draft:

  • By team:
    • Front Royal- 8
    • Staunton, Harrisonburg- 7
    • Waynesboro- 6
    • Winchester, Charles Town- 4
    • Charlottesville, Purcellville- 3
    • Strasburg- 2
    • Covington, Woodstock- 1
    • New Market- 0
  • Major league organizations with the most picks:
    • Baltimore- 5
    • San Francisco- 4
    • Oakland, Pittsburgh, Arizona- 3
    • Toronto, Kansas City, LA Dodgers, San Diego, Boston, Texas, Washington, Chicago Cubs- 2
  • By position:
    • Right handed pitchers- 16
    • Outfielders- 8
    • Left handed pitchers- 7
    • Shortstops, catchers- 3
    • First and second basemen- 2
    • Third base, “utility,” and “infielder”- 1
  • College programs with more than one draftee:
    • Wake Forest, Florida International- 3
    • Southern Illinois Carbondale, Florida- 2

Here are some observations:

  • Nate Pearson, drafted at #28 overall, was the first 1st round pick since Cory Spangenberg (Winchester 2010) went 10th overall in 2011, and became the 6th player drafted in the 1st round.
    • Other first rounders:
      • Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008)- #21 overall in 2010
      • Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006)- #7 overall in 2008
      • Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007)- #27 overall in 2008
      • Chris Perez (Staunton 2004)- #42 overall in 2006
  • 2017 saw 44 players get drafted in 40 rounds, an average of 1.1 per round. Comparisons:
    • 2016- 24 in 40 rounds= 0.6 per round
    • 2015- 46 in 40 rounds= 1.15 per round
    • 2014- 49 in 40 rounds= 1.23 per round
    • 2013- 40 in 40 rounds= 1.0 per round
    • 2012- 51 in 40 rounds= 1.25 per round
    • 2011- 71 in 50 rounds= 1.42 per round
    • 2010- 70 in 50 rounds= 1.40 per round
    • 2009- 58 in 50 rounds= 1.16 per round
    • 2008- 55 in 50 rounds= 1.1 per round
    • 2007- 59 in 50 rounds= 1.18 per round
    • 2006- 59 in 50 rounds= 1.18 per round
      • So while 1.1 per round isn’t close to the best year, 2017 is clearly a step up from 2016, which saw the lowest average over the data period.
  • Eight players were drafted in the first 8 rounds in 2017. How does that stack up?
    • 2016- 1
    • 2015- 4
    • 2014- 9
    • 2013- 3
    • 2012- 6
    • 2011- 7
    • 2010- 8
    • 2009- 7
    • 2008- 7
    • 2007- 4
    • 2006- 5
      • 2017 is tied for the second best total in the first 8 rounds.
  • How about major league players from the drafts? (Keep in mind that it takes literally years to see this stat develop)
    • 2017- 0 (of course)
    • 2016- 0 (also of course)
    • 2015- 0 (too soon)
    • 2014- 0 (still too soon)
    • 2013- 3
    • 2012- 1 (Mac Williamson (Harrisonburg 2011), if you’re interested)
    • 2011- 6
    • 2010- 8
    • 2009- 4
    • 2008- 8
    • 2007- 4
    • 2006- 12

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.

Mazeika Finishes a “Season”

Patrick Mazeika St Lucie 2017When I was floating around on milb.com 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!

A Retrospective Look at VBL Prospects

Each year, ATVL posts updates on top prospects, originally from the Valley League, from different outlets. Baseball Prospectus, one of those outlets, has made all its old lists available, so ATVL was able to compile a list of all alumni who have been mentioned since 2007.

It’s a fascinating list. Of course, many players are mentioned more than once, but take a look at this blast from the past!

2016

Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), Seattle #5 (Before he was traded to Tampa Bay)
Max Povse (Staunton 2013), Seattle #4

2015

Kaleb Fleck (Waynesboro 2008,10), Arizona #10
Jake Johansen (Front Royal 2011), Washington #8

2014

Tommy LaStella (Haymarket 2009), Atlanta #6
Jake Johansen (Front Royal 2011), Washington #5

2013

Eric Stamets (Haymarket 2010), Los Angeles Angels #10
Tommy LaStella (Haymarket 2009), Atlanta #9
Mac Williamson (Harrisonburg 2011), San Francisco #7
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), Milwaukee #2
Cory Spangenberg (Winchester 2010), San Diego #10

2012

Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008), Minnesota #7
Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005), Oakland #9
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), Milwaukee #4
Cory Spangenberg (Winchester 2010), San Diego #4
Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #17
Kevin Munson (Covington 2008), Arizona #18
Scott Cousins (Harrisonburg 2005), Miami #16
Blake Tekotte (Woodstock 2006), San Diego #15

2011

Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), Cleveland #1
Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008), Minnesota #8
Brandon Beachy (Woodstock 2008), Atlanta #10
Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006), Cincinnati #6
Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #13
Blake Tekotte (Woodstock 2006), San Diego #20
Scott Cousins (Harrisonburg 2005), Miami #11
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), Milwaukee #15

2010

Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), Cleveland #8
Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #8
Tommy Manzella (Waynesboro 2003), Houston #7
Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006), Cincinnati #4
Brad Mills (Harrisonburg 2005), Toronto #14
Jon Jay (Staunton 2004), St.Louis #12

2009

Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #9
Brad Mills (Harrisonburg 2005), Toronto #6
Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), St. Louis #3
Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006), Cincinnati #1
Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005), Arizona #9
Jon Jay (Staunton 2004), St.Louis “just missed”

2008

Jack Egbert (Winchester 2003), Chicago White Sox #7
Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), St. Louis #2
Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-05), New York Mets #9
Tony Thomas (Harrisonburg 2005), Chicago Cubs #10
Tommy Manzella (Waynesboro 2003), Houston “just missing”

2007

Kevin Kouzmanoff (Winchester 2002), San Diego #1
Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), St. Louis #6
Joe Koshansky (Staunton 2002-03), Colorado #10

Three Named Spring Training “Revelations”

Major league spring training will be wrapping up in a couple days, and while that means that a few Valley League alumni, like Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-05) and Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), will start off 2017 with a starting position with their respective clubs, a few more, like perhaps Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2006-07), will go north as a bench player. Others, like Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000) and Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), will be on the pitching staff of their organization.

Most alumni, though, are still plying their trade in the minor leagues. But spring training is a great chance for some of them to turn some heads, and impress those who are making the decisions.

Bleacher report has recently published an article on one player from each major league team who has been the biggest “revelation.”  Awesomely, three former Valley Leaguers have made the cut.

Here they are:

Colorado Rockies: Stephen Cardullo (Covington 2007):

Spring Stats: 44 PA, 13-for-37, 3 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R, 5/8 BB/K

 Outlook

The Colorado Rockies have been bitten hard by the injury bug this spring.

Among position players, David Dahl, Ian Desmond and Tom Murphy are all expected to begin the season on the disabled list, and that has opened the door for non-roster invitee Stephen Cardullo to win a bench job.

“You can’t say enough about how he’s hitting,” manager Bud Black told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “He’s squaring balls up against all types of pitchers and he’s playing with a great deal of intent to try and make this ballclub.”

The 29-year-old spent four seasons playing indy ball before the Rockies took a flier on him last year, and he went on to hit .308/.367/.522 with 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 72 RBI in 452 plate appearances in Triple-A.

That earned him a late-season promotion, and he posted a .665 OPS with three doubles and two home runs in 59 plate appearances in the first MLB action of his career.

Now he’ll have a chance to battle for the available playing time at first base and in left field while Desmond and Dahl are on the mend.

Kansas City Royals: Eric Stout (Waynesboro 2012):

Spring Stats: 7 G, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

 Outlook

There probably won’t be a spot for Eric Stout on the Opening Day roster.

The Kansas City Royals already have two lefties—rookie Matt Strahm and former starter Mike Minor—locked into bullpen jobs, and Scott Alexander (8 G, 8.2 IP, 1 ER) has pitched well enough to hold on to his spot from a year ago.

That leaves Stout on the outside looking in, but he’s made a terrific impression in his first big league camp with seven strong innings.

The 23-year-old posted a 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 in 42 appearances at the Double-A level last season and followed that up with a 2.77 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

He looks like the next southpaw up, at least until Brian Flynn is recovered from a fractured rib.

Seattle Mariners: Max Povse (Staunton 2013):

Spring Stats: 4 G, 10.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

 Outlook

There’s no missing Max Povse.

The 6’8″ right-hander is an imposing figure on the mound, and he turned heads this spring before being optioned to the minors last week.

The 23-year-old has made just 11 starts above the Single-A level, so a return to the minors was inevitable, but there’s little question he made a good first impression on his new club.

Povse was acquired from the Atlanta Braves along with fellow right-hander Rob Whalen this offseason in exchange for former top prospect Alex Jackson.

Now he’s squarely in the conversation along with Nick Neidert and Andrew Moore for the title of top pitching prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, and he’ll begin the season in Triple-A.

While he may not have overpowering stuff, he uses his big frame well to generate a good downward plane, and he has a solid changeup-curveball pairing to back his low-90s fastball that tops out at 94.