Yarbrough Named Pitcher of the Week

Ryan Yarbrough Durham 2017The Valley League has quite a number of pitchers performing well at the upper-most levels of the minor leagues, just waiting for the call to the Show.

Kevin Herget (Strasburg 2012), Sam Howard (Staunton 2012), Chad Huffman (Staunton 2012-13), and Austin Gomber (Luray 2012) come immediately to mind.

There’s one more, of course, and he’s been pitching so well lately that he’s been named the International League’s pitcher of the week for July 31-August 6. That’s Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), who went 2-0, 0.00 over 13 2/3 innings, with only 4 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts for Triple-A Durham. Overall, Ryan is 12-5, 3.27, with a 1.14 WHIP over 135 innings in 2017. He’s allowed 114 hits, 35 walks, and struck out 131 batters.

I would be surprised if Ryan doesn’t get the call sometime between now and the end of the major league season. Perhaps he’ll help with the Tampa Bay push for a playoff spot….

Two Named NY-Penn League All-Stars

Two former Valley Leaguers have been named to the New York-Penn League All-Star teams, released a few days ago. Both of these players were drafted in June, and are off to very good starts!

  • Ben Breazeale (Harrisonburg 2014) was named to the NYP South team. Ben was drafted in the 7th round in June, and plays for the Aberdeen Orioles. He’s hitting 361/466/521 in 144 at-bats, with 14 doubles, 3 home runs, and a solid 28/35 BB/K rate.
  • Ryan Gridley (Waynesboro 2015) was named to the North squad. Ryan was drafted this June in the 11th round by the Oakland A’s, and plays for the Vermont Lake Monsters. The Lake Monsters. Sigh. Anyway, he’s hitting 269/372/328 in 134 at-bats, with 8 doubles and a 20/18 BB/K rate.

Congrats to both!

 

Lest You Think ATVL is Finished

The Charlottesville Tom Sox hoisted (well, initially, Michael Wielansky did, to be technical about it) the Jim Lineweaver Trophy last night. Many of the kids have gone home already. Some will go home today, while a precious few will stay a few more days to unwind after a long, hard season.

Does this mean that All Things Valley League will close up shop for the offseason?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

This space is a year-round endeavor.

Over the next 10 months, I will be covering at least the following:

  • A list of the top hitters, starting pitchers, and relievers in the 2017 VBL season (spoiler alert- Michael Wielansky will be on the list) (And the lists are close to being ready, too. I will post on each player one by one, starting at the bottom.)
  • Park factors across the league (this one is close to being ready)
  • Minor league news (New York-Penn League All-Stars were just announced. Do you know which VBLers made the list? ATVL does…)
  • Major league news (Will Daniel Murphy get more MVP votes this year? Will Jason Kipnis and the Cleveland Indians make it back to the World Series? How about Jon Jay and Tommy La Stella and the Cubs? Brett Gardner and the Yankees?)
  • Professional players of the year at each level of affiliated ball (Rookie ball, Low-A, High-A, Double-A… etc. You get the picture.)
  • When the college season starts up again, I will be watching alumni to see who performs well during the college season in the spring
  • Top prospect lists (Like Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015)- I would bet he’s going to be on the Kansas City Royal list)
  • And anything else that comes up.

So while we’ve finished one chapter, another one begins!

Remember to follow me on instagram @allthingsvalley (All Things Valley League), and Facebook!

 

Finals Game Three: Charlottesville 2, Strasburg 1

Many were expecting an easy Tom Sox coronation this evening, as the Strasburg Express were down to three available pitchers, but the announced crowd of 2,154 fans (incredible!) were treated to a nip-and-tuck game that could have gone either way.

Tied 1-1 since the 4th inning, and even though both teams had baserunners on almost every inning, it wasn’t until 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, when Michael DeRenzi’s chopper up the middle eluded the grasp of shortstop Sean Scales, scoring league MVP Michael Wielansky, that the Tom Sox grabbed the lead for good.

Tom Sox’s Rick Spiers, who came in the game with the bases loaded in the 7th with Brandon Quaranta due up, pitched out of the initial jam (with a nifty play on a comebacker), and then pitched out of more trouble in the 9th, finally getting Jeffrey Butler to ground back to the mound to end it and send the Tom Sox faithful home happy.

The Express initially grabbed the lead with a run in the 3rd inning when Turner Buis reached on an error, went to third on another error, this time on a Quaranta batted ball, and scored on a Jake Perry single.

The Tom Sox answered back in the 4th, when Kyle Battle hit a one-out double, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on an error. That score stood, with tons of drama, until the 8th.

Spiers is the winning pitcher, while Quaranta, the last remaining pitcher for the Express, was saddled with the loss. The Tom Sox mustered just 6 hits, but walked 9 times. The Express were led by Tyler Halas’s and Turner Buis’s 2 hits apiece.

In their third year of existence, the Tom Sox won their first ever Jim Lineweaver trophy in a season that saw the team lead the rest of the league almost from day one. The team finished 32-10 in the regular season, and then went 6-1 in the playoffs. The team changed the title of their Facebook page very quickly after the game from “Charlottesville Tom Sox” to “2017 Valley Baseball League Champion Charlottesville Tom Sox.” Indeed they are.

Manager of the year Corey Hunt said after the game, “I’m just proud of my guys. From the first day they got here to the last out, they’ve worked hard, and come together as a group. It means a lot to them, coming here, away from home, playing 40-some odd games with some guys that you may not know… for me, selfishly, it’s been a great ride.”

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Four Quick Transactions

I HAD AN ENTIRE POST READY WHICH JUST DISAPPEARED AFTER IT FAILED TO PUBLISH. THIS IS AN ABBREVIATED VERSION. Unhappy with WordPress right now.

As you know, Brilliant Reader, ATVL pays attention to the waiver wire, and keeps track of Valley League alumni who make debuts, are traded, released, or otherwise move teams of designations in the world of professional baseball.

I have four to report on at the moment… (not including Yonder Alonso, who got his own article on mlb.com)

  • Rico Noel (Covington 2008) has been signed by the Houston Astros, and assigned to Double-A Corpus Christi. Rico is an ATVL favorite because he’s…so…..FAST. He’s stolen 407 total bases over all levels since he was drafted. Anyway, Rico spent a couple months in the majors with the Yankees in 2015. He last played for Lancaster in the Independent Atlantic League (where he stole 34 bases in 38 attempts).
  • Randy Dobnak (Front Royal 2015) was signed by the Minnesota Twins and assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League. Randy pitched in 6 games for the Utica Unicorns (seriously) of the Independent United Shore League.
  • Matt Hockenberry (Woodstock 2013) was released by the Phillies. Matt couldn’t seem to solve Double-A Reading, although he didn’t get much chance to. Matt went 5-1, 2.51 in 89 2/3 innings in High-A, and 0-0, 14.73 in 7 1/3 Double-A innings. (Reading is a bandbox, too)
  • Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005) was released by the San Diego Padres. He played in the majors for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s, New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, and Cleveland Indians, putting up a 234/297/329 slash line and 4.0 WAR in 759 major league plate appearances. He’s been injured quite a bit this year; maybe he’ll get picked up by another organization.

All-League Selections Announced

Next up, the League’s announcement regarding the All-League teams…

Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky and Purcellville’s Thomas Sutera took home the major awards as the VBL announced its 2017 All-League teams.

The vote of team and media representatives across the Valley resulted in a Division III infielder earning Player of the Year honors after leading the league in batting average, and a reliever taking home Pitcher of the Year recognition.

Wielansky (College of Wooster) hit .432- one of the highest batting averages of the league’s collegiate era, and did so on 155 at-bats- tied for third-most in the league.

The second baseman led the VBL in hits (69), doubles (18) and runs scored (38), while adding four triples, four home runs, 34 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

Sutera (Siena College) was 6-0 with three saves and a 1.57 ERA in 15 relief appearances. He also had the win decision in the VBL’s victory over the SCBL in North Carolina and in a postseason game vs. Winchester, giving him an overall summer record of 8-0.

Sutera struck out 39 batters in 34.1 innings, scattering 26 hits and walking 10. He raised that performance to another level in the postseason, striking out 11 of the 12 batters he faced in four perfect innings.

The first team included New Market catcher Jake Washer, Purcellville first baseman Trevin Esquerra, New Market shortstop Nick Barber, Covington third baseman Bruce Strickland, and an outfield of Dominic Canzone (Front Royal), Jacob Rhinesmith (New Market) and Max Wood (Staunton).

The Valley was full of strong utility and designated hitter candidates this summer, with the top spots going to Charlottesville’s Rick Spiers (.333 batting average and 4-0 record on the mound) and Strasburg’s Brandon Quaranta (11 homers, 49 RBIs).

The first team pitching staff included Strasburg’s Benjamin Dum and Zach Peek, Charlottesville’s Sean McCracken, and Woodstock’s Nick Fuchs. Sutera was joined by Front Royal’s Joshua Andrews in the top reliever spots.

There were three repeat All-League selections this year. Quaranta, Dum and Woodstock’s Danton Hyman (a second team outfielder) were all first team honorees in 2016.

2017 ALL-VALLEY LEAGUE TEAM

Most Valuable Player: Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville
Pitcher of the Year: Thomas Sutera, Purcellville

1ST TEAM
C: Jake Washer, New Market, East Carolina University (.346, 5 HR, 35 RBI)
1B: Trevin Esquerra, Purcellville, Loyola Marymount University (.362, 8 HR, 33 RBI)
2B: Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville, College of Wooster (.432, 4 HR, 34 RBI)
SS: Nick Barber, New Market, East Carolina University (.322, 2 HR, 21 RBI)
3B: Bruce Strickland, Covington, Felician College (.328, 4 HR, 27 RBI)
OF: Dominic Canzone, Front Royal, Ohio State University (.404, 3 HR, 23 RBI)
OF: Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market, Western Kentucky University (.369, 3 HR, 33 RBI)
OF: Max Wood, Staunton, University of Central Florida (.390, 5 HR, 21 RBI)
DH: Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg, Philadelphia University (.331, 11 HR, 49 RBI)
UTIL: Rick Spiers, Charlottesville, Randolph-Macon College (.333, 3 HR, 19 RBI; 4-0, 0.78 ERA, 27 K)
SP: Benjamin Dum, Strasburg, Virginia Commonwealth University (5-2, 2.77 ERA, 39 K)
SP: Nick Fuchs, Woodstock, Gannon University (3-3, 2.72 ERA, 53 K)
SP: Sean McCracken, Charlottesville, Johns Hopkins University (2-0, 1.65 ERA, 27 K)
SP: Zach Peek, Strasburg, Winthrop University (4-1, 1.80 ERA, 40 K)
RP: Joshua Andrews, Front Royal, Grand Canyon University (2-1, 0.68 ERA, 46 K, 2 SV)
RP: Thomas Sutera, Purcellville, Siena College (6-0, 1.57 ERA, 39 K, 3 SV)

2ND TEAM
C: Tony Beam, Harrisonburg, Texas-San Antonio (.375, 0 HR, 16 RBI)
1B: Luc Lipcius, Front Royal, University of Tennessee (.336, 4 HR, 21 RBI)
2B: Chase Sudduth, New Market, North Georgia College (.324, 2 HR, 25 RBI)
SS: Cash Gladfelter, Woodstock, Shippensburg University (.323, 1 HR, 15 RBI)
3B: Seth Woodard, Winchester, Old Dominion University (.333, 1 HR, 18 RBI)
OF: McClain Bradley, Waynesboro, Wofford College (.359, 2 HR, 18 RBI)
OF: Danton Hyman, Woodstock, Newberry College (.379, 1 HR, 27 RBI)
OF: Cody Wilson, Winchester, Florida Atlantic University (.336, 0 HR, 23 RBI)
DH: Vinnie Pasquantino, Charlottesville, Old Dominion University (.336, 4 HR, 30 RBI)
UTIL: Alec Aleywine, New Market, Gulf Coast Community College (.314, 3 HR, 33 RBI; 4-0, 3.82 ERA, 27 K)
SP: Daniel Collins, Winchester, Montreat College (1-3, 3.73 ERA, 47 K)
SP: Andy Crum, Purcellville, Shippensburg University (3-2, 2.00 ERA, 32 K)
SP: Payton Kinney, Waynesboro, Nebraska-Omaha (4-0, 3.40 ERA, 32 K)
SP: Marc Moclair, Front Royal, University of Tampa (2-2, 2.92 ERA, 46 K)
SP: Mason Studstill, Harrisonburg, Eastern Florida State College (4-0, 2.50 ERA, 31 K)
RP: Joe Burris, Charlottesville, Christopher Newport University (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 14 K, 4 SV)
RP: Drew Loepprich, Charlottesville, Wake Forest University (4-0, 0.72 ERA, 25 K, 0 SV)
RP: Nate Pawelczyk, Winthrop University, New Market (3-0, 0.55 ERA, 23 K, 3 SV)

(For full disclosure, ATVL had a vote this year.)

New Market and Charlottesville each placed 6 players on the combined lists. Front Royal has 4, Purcellville, Strasburg, Woodstock, and Winchester all have 3. Harrisonburg and Waynesboro have 2 each, and Covington and Staunton have 1.

Manager of the Year

The League’s press release naming Charlottesville’s Corey Hunt the Manager of the Year….

Charlottesville’s Corey Hunt has been named the Maynard “Mo” Weber Manager of the Year in a league vote.

Hunt led the Tom Sox to a dominant 32-10 record in his first year as a VBL head coach, and just the third season of the Tom Sox franchise.

The South pennant winning roster included VBL Player of the Year Michael Wielansky, eight South Division All-Stars, six total selections to the VBL’s Showcase All-Star team, and six All-VBL selections. He coached four different NCAA D-III players to All-Star or first team All-League recognition.

Charlottesville swept the past two pennant winners, Staunton and Waynesboro, in the South playoffs. They are trying to stave off elimination tonight however, after dropping Game 1 of the finals to defending champs Strasburg.

Currently the head coach at nearby Monticello High School, Hunt also played locally at MHS and the University of Virginia.

While at the University of Virginia, Hunt batted .337 in 101 career at-bats, which included 27 runs scored and 19 RBIs. In 2011, Hunt scored the winning run of the Charlottesville Super Regional, to send the Cavaliers to the College World Series. He coached the Monticello Mustangs to the 3A state semifinals in 2015.

The Maynard “Mo” Weber Coach of the Year Award was established in 2008. An educator and businessman, Weber coached baseball for more than 65 years. He was head coach at The College of William and Mary from 1964-65 and again from 1978-1981. When Weber stepped down from his coaching position in New Market at the age of 88 in 2011, his jersey, No. 1, was also retired. He was inducted into the Valley League Hall of Fame this summer.

Charlottesville plays for the franchise’s first VBL championship tonight!