#1 Hitter: Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville

Before we start the discussion of our #1 hitter from 2017, let’s take a quick look at the former #1 choices:

2016- Zach Sterry, Waynesboro
2015- Shane Billings, Harrisonburg
2014- Gunnar McNeill, Staunton
2013- Jordan Tarsovich, Strasburg
2012- Jimmy Yezzo, Winchester
2011- Brad Zebedis, Strasburg
2010- Cory Spangenberg, Winchester
2009- Stephen McQuail, Front Royal
2008- Tyler Townsend, Winchester
2007- Jason Kipnis, Covington

Some years, the choice for the best hitter in the league is a tough one. In 2007, for example, ATVL waffled between Zach Greinke and Jason Kipnis for forever, it seemed, until the final choice of Kipnis was made.

Michel Wielansky Charlottesvile 2017

This year, however, the choice was perhaps the easiest in the 11 years of listing the best that set foot in the Valley.

In what should come as exactly zero surprise, the best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky!

Here is what Michael did for the Tom Sox in he regular season and playoffs:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 37 155 38 67 18 4 4 34 20 15 11 1 0.432 0.489 0.677
Play 7 32 8 13 1 0 1 6 4 0 2 0 0.406 0.459 0.531

Do you want to know what made Michael an easy choice for #1, Dear Reader? Michael finished 1st in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, doubles, hits, and runs. He also tied for 3rd in RBIs, tied for 6th in home runs, and finished 3rd in triples. That’s first in 8 categories, and top five in 10.

His season was so amazing that he entered the league record book (from 2004) in 6 categories: batting average (1st), runs (tied for 4th), hits (tied for 1st), doubles (tied for 2nd), triples (tied for 10th), and total bases (6th). Holy smokes!

He was critically important to the best team in all of summer baseball (according to Perfect Game); so much so, that when the Tom Sox were given the Jim Lineweaver Trophy, Michael’s teammates sent him to receive the trophy from Commissioner Alger. A nice touch!

Michael had 5 hits in a game once, 4 hits 3 times, 3 hits 6 times, 2 hits 16 times, and had at least one hit in 39 of 44 games. He also started the season with a 14 game hitting streak. He was obviously named the league MVP, first team All-Valley at second base, and Perfect Game named him a 1st team All-American. Baseball America named him the 9th best prospect in the league, while Perfect Game pegged him at #4.

This all just added to the young man’s resume, which is already pretty full. Take a gander at what he’s done at Wooster:

Woo G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2016 49 195 61 73 18 5 7 52 30 20 22 2 0.374 0.461 0.626
2017 46 186 69 79 15 6 10 54 19 13 20 9 0.425 0.509 0.731

So. Michael led his college team in 2016, as a true freshman, in runs, doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, and slugging percentage. After that season, he was named second team All-Region by ABCA and D3baseball.com. He was named first team All-Conference, and NCAC New comer of the Year.

Then as a sophomore in 2017, Michael led his college team in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and even with 15 hit-by-pitches! He was named a first team All-American by ABCA, Mideast Region Player of the Year, ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove winner at shortstop, and to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District team.

All of this is amazing. Michael might have just had the best Valley League season in the past 15 years, and perhaps one of the best ever. Congratulations on your truly amazing season in the Valley League, Michael!

 

 

Advertisements

#2 Hitter: Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg

Brandon Quaranta Phil U 2017This young man, Brandon Quaranta, has cut a pretty wide swath through the Valley League in his two seasons in Strasburg. If you follow the Valley League with any regularity, Brilliant Reader, you’ve heard of this young man and his hitting ability and monstrous power. (He pitches, too, of course.)

Let’s get right to the stats, for both 2016 and 2017, along with Brandon’s playoff stats, with the totals at the end:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2016 20 80 17 30 7 1 6 24 4 15 1 0 0.375 0.425 0.713
Play 7 29 9 13 2 0 5 12 3 8 0 0 0.448 0.500 1.034
2017 38 151 36 50 11 0 11 49 25 32 1 0 0.331 0.448 0.623
Play 9 35 8 7 0 0 1 3 11 7 0 0 0.200 0.383 0.286
Tot. 74 295 70 100 20 1 23 88 43 62 2 0 0.339 0.438 0.647

In 2016, even though Brandon came late and didn’t get enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, he finished 4th in the league in home runs, and was named 1st team All-Valley at designated hitter.

In 2017, He had 4 hits in a game 4 times, and, perhaps not so coincidentally, was named ATVL’s hitter of the day 4 times as well. His best game was on July 21 against Woodstock, when he went 4-6, with 3 runs, a double, 2 home runs, and 7 RBIs.

He finished 3rd in OPS, 7th in OBP, 4th in slugging, tied for 5th in walks, 3rd in total bases, 1st in RBIs, 1st in home runs, tied for 4th in doubles, 9th in hits, and tied for 3rd in runs. That’s top 5 in 8 categories! He was named, again, first team All-Valley at DH, and a 2nd team All-American at utility in the entire nation by Perfect Game. Oh, right- he won the home run derby in the All-Star game, too!

Brandon also made both big prospect lists; he was named #8 in the league by Baseball America, and #9 by Perfect Game.

Now let’s take a look at what Brandon has done at Philadelphia University (which, by the way, will now by known as “Jefferson,” after the merger between Phil U and Thomas Jefferson University).

PU G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2015 19 41 4 8 0 0 1 8 9 12 2 0 0.195 0.340 0.268
2016 35 102 22 34 3 0 7 25 15 20 3 0 0.333 0.444 0.569
2017 47 157 45 45 8 1 15 41 34 34 12 1 0.287 0.430 0.637
Tot. 101 300 71 87 11 1 23 74 58 66 17 1 0.290 0.423 0.563

Brandon led his team in home runs, RBIs, and walks in 2017, and was named to the All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference First Team.

And just for fun, let’s combine Brandon’s stats from the Valley League and his college team:

175 games, 595 at-bats, 141 runs, 187 hits, 31 doubles, 2 triples, 46 home runs, 162 RBIs, 101 walks, 128 strikeouts, 19 stolen bases (1 caught stealing), and a slash line of 314/430/605. Wow.

Congratulations on your two excellent seasons in the Valley, Brandon! Now go out there and have another great year at Jefferson, and force a major league team to draft you in June! (And happy birthday!)

Brandon Quaranta at bat 2017 resizedBrandon Quaranta close up resized 2017

 

 

#3 Hitter: Max Wood, Staunton

Max Wood Central Florida 2017

Our #3 hitter, Max Wood, was one of the most consistent hitters in the 2017 Valley League season. He started his season going 2-4 on June 10th, went 0-for his next seven, but then proceeded to get a hit in 27 of his last 29 games. This included ending his season on a 23-game hitting streak (including his two playoff games). While not the longest in history, he surely came close (at least two players had streaks of 25 games), and had the longest hitting streak in the 2017 season. He also had 18 multi-hit games to boot.

Let’s take a look at his overall stats in his regular season and playoffs:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 31 123 33 48 12 1 5 21 14 19 8 2 0.390 0.457 0.626
Play 2 8 1 3 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0.375 0.444 0.500

It should come as no surprise that Max was named first team All-Valley in the outfield with numbers like these. Overall, he finished 3rd in the league in batting average, 2nd in OPS, 3rd in OBP, 3rd in slugging percentage, 4th in total bases, tied for 3rd in home runs, 3rd in doubles, 10th in hits, and 7th in runs. He finished in the top 5 in 7 different categories!

His best game was probably on June 30th at Covington, when he was on base 6 times. He went 3-3, with a triple, home run, 3 walks, 3 runs, and 2 RBIs. The Braves won the game, 9-4.

Max’s performance caught the eyes of Perfect Game, too, as they named him the #7 prospect in the league.

Max has had a bit of an odd road to get here. Here are his first two years in college, at San Jacinto, and his 2017 season at Central Florida:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2015 51 139 41 46 5 2 6 41 15 15 13 2 0.331 0.406 0.525
2016 63 205 44 76 8 0 7 50 17 42 14 6 0.371 0.441 0.512
2017 23 23 3 3 0 0 0 4 2 9 0 0 0.130 0.222 0.130

He was named first team All-Conference in 2016 at San Jacinto, but then obviously had trouble breaking into CF’s lineup the next year. Pinch hitting is a tough gig, and Max went 3-23 in that role. With the summer he’s had, though, Max has proven that he’s a dynamic player, and hopefully will get more at-bats in his senior year!

#4 Hitter: Trevin Esquerra, Purcellville

LMU baseball 2017 HeadshotsMajor league clubs are always on the lookout for power, which means that they should be scouting Trevin Esquerra, the 4th best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season.

Let’s take a look at his output in both the regular season and 3 playoff games:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 38 152 25 55 11 3 8 33 11 46 0 0 0.362 0.407 0.632
Play 3 13 2 5 1 0 2 4 0 5 0 0 0.385 0.385 0.923

Trevin finished 6th in batting average, 4th in OPS, 2nd in slugging percentage, 2nd in total bases (sorry Dave), tied for 5th in RBIs, 2nd in home runs, tied for 4th in triples, tied for 4th in doubles, and tied for 4th in hits. Wow- he’s in the top 5 in 8 different categories. Not surprisingly, he was named first team All-Valley at first base. He was named ATVL’s hitter of the day 4 times, with his best day probably being on June 9th at Winchester, when he went 4-5 with a run, 2 doubles, and an RBI. Perfect Game named him the 10th best prospect in the league as well.

Just a sophomore at Loyola Marymount (yet another freshman from the summer!), the 6-foot-1, 215 pound infielder from San Diego didn’t play a huge amount for the Lions in 2017:

LM G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 37 67 14 14 6 1 2 12 9 27 0 1 0.209 0.295 0.418

He showed power here, too, with 9 of his 14 hits going for extra bases. Hopefully he’ll get some more at-bats this spring.

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Trevin!

 

 

#5 Hitter: Dominic Canzone, Front Royal

Dominic Canzone Ohio State 2017

Our 5th best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is Dominic Canzone, from Front Royal!

Canzone is yet another true freshman who blasted his way through the league, becoming the 8th (or 7th, depending on how you number them) player to top a .400 average since 2004.

Just take a look at this line:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 28 114 28 46 3 2 3 23 11 7 17 3 0.404 0.457 0.544

Dominic had a super season for the Cardinals, showing both power and patience (4 more walks than K’s?!?). He finished 2nd in batting average, 5th in OPS, 4th in OBP, 7th in slugging, tied 9th in triples, and was named 1st team All-Valley as an outfielder.

Not only did he hit in 21 of his 28 games, but he also had 4 hits in a game 4 times, 3 hits twice, and 2 hits 6 times. His best game was probably on June 23rd, when he went 4-5, with 4 runs, a double, home run, and 3 RBIs against Woodstock.

He also made a splash with the scouting community, as Baseball America named him the 2nd best prospect in the league, while Perfect Game named him the best. His coach for the first part of the season, Brian Daly, said that he has rarely seen a player made adjustments at the plate as quickly as Dominic did for Front Royal.

Here is what Canzone did at Ohio State in his first year in college:

OSU G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 49 166 22 57 4 3 3 36 15 20 13 2 0.343 0.390 0.458

This is crazy. He finished first on his team in batting average, 3rd in hits, tied for 2nd in triples, 2nd in RBIs, 2nd in slugging percentage, 3rd in on-base percentage, and even 3rd in stolen bases. He was named third-team All-Big Ten, and to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.

Dominic is yet another player who should have a very bright future ahead of him in this game. Congrats!

CARDS_CANZONE1

(Rich Cooley/Daily)

Dominic Canzone OSU 2017

#6 Hitter: Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market

Our #6 hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is New Market’s Jacob Rhinesmith!

Here is what the lefty did for the Rebels in both the regular season and the playoffs:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 30 122 28 45 9 2 3 33 15 18 9 1 0.369 0.438 0.549
Play 3 14 3 7 0 0 1 2 1 3 0 0 0.500 0.533 0.714

Jacob Rhinesmith Indian Hills CC 2017Jacob finished 5th in the league in batting average, 6th in OPS, 9th in on-base percentage, 6th in slugging percentage, tied for 5th in RBIs, tied for 9th in triples, and tied for 10th in doubles. He was named to the All-Valley League in the outfield.

Jacob had not only one of the hottest hitting streaks I’ve seen in the Valley, but he had two streaks that were rather jaw-dropping.

On July 15th, Jacob got off the Reb’s old white school bus hitting 291/378/443. He went 6-6 that night, along with 2 doubles, 3 runs, and 6 RBIs (easily named the hitter of the day), and then 6-11 over the next two games, raising his line to 365/430/552. Over the 3 games, he hit 3 doubles, a home run, scored 7 runs, and had 9 RBIs. In fact, that performance on July 15th may be one of the best the Valley League has ever seen.

If that weren’t enough, he had a five-game stretch from July 25 to 30 in which he went 15-27 with 9 runs, a double, 2 home runs, and 9 RBI. It seems that when Jacob is locked in, he’s exceedingly difficult to retire.

Jacob, a native of Shakopee, Minnesota, attended Indian Hills Community College, in Iowa, his first two college seasons. He has signed with Western Kentucky for the 2018 college season. Here are his stats for 2016 and 2017:

I.H. G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2016 50 163 26 44 4 7 5 20 25 31 5 1 0.270 0.377 0.472
2017 61 231 54 94 19 5 11 59 18 19 15 1 0.407 0.461 0.675

Just take a look at that 2017 line- Jacob hit .400, double figures in doubles and home runs, one more strikeout than walks… and he led his team in batting average, at-bats, hits, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and stolen bases. Wow. His production will be difficult to replace! He was named a 2nd team NJCAA All-American in 2017, and to the North All-District squad.

Jacob also left a fun keepsake with his host family when he returned home at the end of the summer- see below. Classy move!

Congrats, Jacob, and good luck at Western Kentucky!

56fdd7377bd07.image

Jacob at Indian Hills (Daily Iowegian)

Jacob Rhinesmith host family 2017

(Posted on the New Market twitter page by Zac Cole)

#7 Hitter: Luc Lipcius, Front Royal

Knoxville, TN - 2017.01.09 - HeadshotSo often in the Valley League. scouts have to project what a player might grow into, physically, in the future. That is definitely not the case for our 7th best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season, Luc Lipcius.

Luc, listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, is a big, wide-shouldered, barrel-chested young man. There is no doubt that he will have the physique to play pro ball, as he inhabits that physique already. He’s also pretty advanced for a true freshman as well, since he played in 33 games for the Tennessee Volunteers, in the SEC, during the 2017 college season.

But he doesn’t only have the physique- he has the skill as well. Here is his line for Front Royal this summer:

FR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 28 107 24 36 10 0 4 21 17 17 1 1 0.336 0.441 0.542

Luc finished 7th in the league in OPS, 8th in on-base percentage, 8th in slugging percentage, tied for 6th in home runs, tied for 7th in doubles, was named to the All-Valley League 2nd team at first base, and was named the 5th best prospect in the league by Baseball America.

He was the hitter of the day twice, and his best game was on June 26th, when he went 4-5 with a walk. Luc also hit a monster shot down the right field line in the all-star game that the umps called foul. I had an excellent view of it, and I’m convinced the ball curved around the foul pole, and should have been a home run.

Anyway, here is what Luc did for the Volunteers in 2017:

Ten G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 33 86 8 22 3 0 1 8 9 16 3 1 0.256 0.354 0.326

One last note- Luc’s major is nuclear engineering. I wonder how many VBL alumni have a degree in that field?

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Luc!

Lipcius and Sudduth

Luc after batting practice at the All-Star game (ATVL)

Luc Lipcius Tennessee

(Tennessee athletics/UTSports.com)