Almonte, Rinn, Ratliff Named All-Stars

The Northwest League will send their best to play an All-Star game against the best from the Pioneer League on August 1st, and three former Valley Leaguers will be there.

Two players, Abraham Almonte (Strasburg 2016) and Robby Rinn (Aldie 2013), will represent the Pioneer League, while Tyler Ratliff (Purcellville 2016-17) will be there from the Northwest League.

Their stats through July 26th:

  • Almonte is 0-0, 1.74, with 5 saves and 16 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings pitched for Missoula.
  • Rinn is hitting 365/456/518 in 34 games and 137 at-bats for Idaho Falls.
  • Ratliff is hitting 250/308/375 in 72 at-bats for Spokane, after hitting 500/541/618 in 34 at-bats in the Arizona League.

Congrats to all three!


Four Pitchers off to Great Starts

As I did a few days go with four batters off to hot pro starts, let’s take a look at four pitchers who have done the same!

  • Abraham Almonte (Strasburg 16) was drafted in the 26th round this June by the Arizona Diamondbacks, after wowing the Valley League with strikeouts out of the bullpen for the Express last summer. He’s pitched in 5 games so far for Missoula in the Pioneer League, and is 0-0, 0.00, with 2 hits, 0 walks, and 8 strikeouts in 5 innings (and 3 saves).
  • Garrett Cave (Staunton 15) was nabbed in the 4th round by the Giants. He’s 0-0, 0.00 after appearing in 3 games, with 2 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts in 4 innings (1 save). He was assigned to Salem-Keizer of the Northwest League.
  • Reed Hayes is in the Orioles’ system after being picked in the 13th inning out of Vanderbilt. They sent the 2015 Staunton Brave to Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League, where he is 1-0, 0.00, with 2 hits, 0 walks, and 3 strikeouts in 3 innings (2 saves, too).
  • Walter Borkovich (Staunton 15) was signed as an undrafted free agent in June by the Braves. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, Walter has thrown 4 shutout innings while allowing 4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout.

Keep it up, guys!

Abraham Almonte Philly U


Garrett Cave Tampa 2017


Reed Hayes Vandy 2017


Walter Borkovich MSU



The 2017 Draft List

Here is the list of the 44 former (and current) Valley League players drafted this year…

1   28 Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida, Toronto Blue Jays (Staunton 16)
4  120 Michael Gigliotti, CF, Lipscomb, Kansas City Royals (Covington 15)
4  126 Garrett Cave, RHP, Tampa, San Francisco Giants (Staunton 15)
6  190 Wills Montgomerie, RHP, Connecticut, Los Angeles Dodgers (Waynesboro 15)
7 198 Nick Margevicius, LHP, Rider, San Diego Padres (Staunton 15)
7 218 Ben Breazeale, C, Wake Forest, Baltimore Orioles (Harrisonburg 14)
8 243 Billy Cooke, CF, Coastal Carolina, Seattle Mariners (Charlottesville 15)
8 251 Zach Sterry, 1B, Oakland, Boston Red Sox (Waynesboro 2016)
11 321 Ryan Gridley, SS, Mississippi State, Oakland A’s (Waynesboro 2015)
11 338 Trevor Craport, Util, Georgia Tech, Baltimore Orioles (Harrisonburg 16)
11 339 Donnie Sellers, RHP, Wake Forest, Toronto Blue Jays (Harrisonburg 2016)
13 385 Kevin Williams, LF, Samford, Los Angeles Angels (Front Royal 2016)
13 398 Reed Hayes, RHP, Vanderbilt, Baltimore Orioles (Staunton 15)
15 451 Kyle Davis, 2B, West Virginia, Houston Astros (Charlottesville 15)
15 458 Juan Escarra, 1B, Florida International, Baltimore Orioles (Staunton 14)
17 524 Tyler Ratliff, 3B, Marshall, Texas Rangers (Purcellville 16)
18 551 Dominic LoBrutto, LHP, Florida International, Boston (Winchester 16)
19 574 Irving Lopez, 2B, Florida International, St.Louis (Staunton 16)
19 583 Jonathan Pryor, OF, Wake Forest, Washington Nationals (Harrisonburg 16)
20 598 Will Reed, RHP, Harford CC, Pittsburgh Pirates (Purcellville 16)
21 618 Greg Lambert, CF, S.Illinois Carbondale, San Diego (Front Royal 15)
22 655 James Ziemba, LHP, Duke, Arizona (Harrisonburg 14-15)
22 658 Brett Pope, SS, Western Carolina, Pittsburgh (Charlottesville 15)
23 681 Malik Jones, RHP, Missouri Baptist, Oakland (Purcell, Harrison 16)
24 732 Riley Echols, RHP, Freed Hardeman, Cleveland (Charles Town 15)
24 734 Brooks Wilson, RHP, Stetson, Texas (Waynesboro 15)
25 765 Mitch Stophel, RHP, King, Chicago Cubs (Front Royal 16)
26 772 Abraham Almonte, LHP, Philadelphia, Arizona (Strasburg 16)
26 776 Aubrey McCarty, RF, Florida A&M, Colorado (Waynesboro 15)
26 785 Drew Crosby, LHP, Memphis, Detroit (Winchester 15)
26 793 Kameron Esthay, OF, Baylor, Washington (Harrisonburg 15)
27 808 David Lee, RHP, Florida, Pittsburgh (Winchester 15-6)
27 810 Nick Hutchins, C, S.Illinois Carbondale, Kansas City (Front Royal 15)
27 812 Alex Mauricio, RHP, Norfolk State, New York Yankees (Waynesboro 15)
28 835 Bernabe Camargo, SS, Galveston, Arizona Diamondbacks (Front Royal 16)
28 848 Zach Jarrett, OF, UNC CHarlotte, Baltimore (Woodstock 14)
29 876 Frank Rubio, RHP, Florida, San Francisco (Front Royal 16)
30 891 Cody Puckett, LHP, Middle Tennessee, Oakland (Front Royal 15)
31 936 Keenan Bartlett, RHP, Richmond, San Francisco (Winchester 15)
33 996 Peyton Maddox, C, VMI, San Francisco (Charles Town 15, Staunton 16)
34 1019 Karl Craigie, LHP, UT San Antonio, Miami (Charles Town 14)
35 1060 Colby Nealy, RHP, Washington State, LA Dodgers (Strasburg 15)
37 1107 Ted Andrews, RHP, Tulane, Chicago White Sox (Front Royal 17)
39 1185 Cooper Coldiron, INF, Houston, Chicago Cubs (Charles Town 15)

Plumlee, Zombro, Almonte Have Excellent Outings

Three former Valley Leaguers performed very well in their starts over the past half week or so. Let’s take a look!

  • Peyton Plumlee (Strasburg 2016) threw 6 excellent innings against Tennessee in Mississippi State’s 14-4 victory on Saturday. He allowed 5 hits, 1 unearned run, 1 walk, and struck out 6. For the season, he’s now 3-1, 2.84, with 30 hits, 8 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Tyler Zombro (Staunton 2014) threw a complete game shutout against Fordham on Friday for George Mason. He allowed 6 hits, 0 walks, and struck out 1. He only threw 83 pitches in the 9 innings. Overall, he’s 1-3, 2.48, with 39 hits, 6 walks, and 27 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.
  • Abraham Almonte (Strasburg 2016) also threw a shutout, albeit “only” 7 innings, in the second game of a doubleheader for Philadelphia University against Caldwell on Saturday. He gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 7. Overall, he’s now 2-1, 2.20, with 34 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings pitched.

Way to go, guys!

#12 Reliever: Abraham Almonte, Strasburg

The 12th best reliever in the 2016 Valley League season struck out all the batters.

abraham-almonte-philadelphia-u-headshotWell, maybe not all, but Abraham Almonte, from Strasburg and Philadelphia University, was incredibly hard to hit.

Overall in 2016, Almonte went 2-0, 2.25, with 4 saves in 13 appearances out of the bullpen. He finished with a 1.250 WHIP, 5.6 BB/9, and 19.7 K/9. Take another look at that K/9- 19.7. Abraham recorded 48 outs in the regular season- 35 of them by strikeout. Wow. That K/9 is, by far, the highest of all relievers surveyed for this list.

Then he went on to pitch in 2 games in the playoffs, in which he allowed 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, and struck out 5 in 3 1/3 innings. (5 K’s in 10 outs.) I don’t need to explain to you, Brilliant Reader, how valuable it is to have a reliever that can strike out batters like this, do I? Anyway, the 6-foot lefty was named the #19 prospect in the League by Perfect Game for his efforts.

In 2014 as a freshman at Philadelphia University, Abraham went 3-2, 3.81 in 26 innings- he struck out 30. In 2015, he appeared 4 times out of the bullpen and started 5 games. In one of those games, he threw a no hitter against Lincoln. Overall, he went 3-1, 1.21, with 15 hits, 7 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. He underwent TJ surgery in May of 2015, and therefore did not pitch in the 2016 college season. The first batters he faced in 2016 were after he joined Strasburg.

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Abraham!



Q & A With Brandon Quaranta

Every couple years, a player will burst on the scene in the Valley League, but will not quite reach the threshold to be included in post season lists. For example, Ryan Schimpf in 2008 for Luray (now the 2nd baseman for the San Diego Padres), and Rudy Flores for the 2010 Haymarket Senators (now in Double-A Mobile) immediately come to mind. Chris Devenski, too, who played for Woodstock in 2011, and now pitches in the Houston Astro’s bullpen.

Brandon Quaranta is one of those players, too. He arrived in Strasburg on June 30, almost exactly halfway through the season, and proceeded to do nothing but rake (and throw exceedingly well, too, of course). He didn’t make the at-bats minimum to be included on ATVL’s best hitters list, even though he was named first team All-Valley at designated hitter.

Brandon Quaranta Philadelphia 2016Well, the good thing about these pages is that we can celebrate whomever we wish. Brandon was kind enough to answer some questions about his life and his time in the Valley, so he will get his time in the sun (so to speak).

So, first, some stats. Then an interview.

Did I mention that Brandon raked this summer? In 20 games and 80 regular season at-bats, Brandon hit 375/425/713, with 17 runs, 24 RBIs, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 6 home runs, and a 4/15 BB/K ratio. He obviously carried his hot hitting into the playoffs, where he hit 448/500/1.034 in 29 at-bats, along with 9 runs, 12 RBIs, 2 doubles, 5 home runs, and a 3/8 BB/K ratio. ATVL named him the best hitter of the playoffs, and it wasn’t particularly close. His two best games were on July 22 against Staunton, and July 29 against Purcellville. Against the Braves, he went 5-5, with 2 runs, a double, home run, and 4 RBIs. Later, against the Cannons, he went 3-4, with 4 runs, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, and a walk. Actually, I think it’s safe to say that the Express would have had significant trouble winning the Jim Lineweaver Cup without him.

But Brandon doubled his contribution to the Express, because he pitched as well. In the regular season, he went 0-0, 0.00 with 1 save in 6 games and 7 1/3 innings, allowing 6 hits, 1 unearned run, 2 walks, and striking out 8. In 3 games in the playoffs, he went 0-0, 0.00, with 1 more save, and 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs, and 7 strikeouts in 4 innings. ATVL named him the 2nd best pitcher in the playoffs.

Some stats, huh? Now let’s take a look at the interview:

All Things Valley League: Tell us how you got hooked up with Strasburg this summer.
Brandon Quaranta: I got hooked up with the Strasburg Express this year because I referred to them by Duke Dickerson who helps the Strasburg Express recruit players. They called me and asked me if I wanted to play, and I said absolutely. I could not pass that opportunity up.
ATVL: What was the best part of the Valley League for you?
BQ: I think the best part of the valley league for me was playing against some great competition. Every day I was able to compete against great ball players that have the same passion as me, to get to the next level, and continue their baseball career.
ATVL: What was the part that could have been better- a way to improve the experience?
BQ:  I had a great experience in the valley league. I do not think there is much to change. One thing that could be different is maybe playing the weekend games at 1 pm instead of 7 pm. I think it would be good to get some day games. Other than that I wouldn’t change anything.
ATVL: I heard through the grapevine (Mike Grim, actually) that you didn’t play your senior year in high school. A: Is this true; and B: how did you choose Philadelphia U? Did you have to walk on, or did things still work out with a scholarship?
BQ:  Yes, it is true that I did not play my senior year. When I was a senior my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, and was really sick. It was one ofBrandon Quaranta double header heroics Phila U 2016 the hardest things any family will ever have to go through. Thank God she is better now, and doing great. Anyways, because my mom was sick she had to stop working, and our family and I needed money to survive. I had a car, and a younger brother that needed things as well. So I quit baseball, and worked two jobs full time. One day I was thinking about how much I loved and missed the game; I just couldn’t give it up. I decided to go to a junior college, and do what I loved. I was fortunate enough to meet Duke Dickerson who was one of the coaches there at the time. I wanted to go to a four year school, and also continue my education. I looked at few schools far away from my home town, that I thought would be too far from my family. I decided that Philau had great academic programs, and I was also offered a baseball scholarship to play there. With the help of Duke I was able to get to continue my education, and baseball career. Philau was also appealing because the CACC (Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference), the conference we play in, is wood bat which I love playing the game with. So that was a plus!
ATVL: Tell us about your pitching. What do you throw?
BQ: When I pitch I throw a 2 seam fastball, slurve, and change up. I love to pitch; I have always being the closer type pitcher to come in, and try to shut down a team. It’s just fun for me, and love being able to do it for Philau and the Express.
ATVL: If you were drafted, would you rather it be for pitching or hitting?
BQ:  Well that’s a hard question. First off, if I was to get drafted that would be a huge honor. That has always been my goal, to play in a major league organization one day, and try to get to the show with the greatest ball players in the world. That’s hard though because I love to do both so much. It would be nice to get drafted by a National League team, because then you can pitch and hit. Two guys I think of off the top of my head are Madison Bumgarner, and Noah Syndergaard. They are two guys that can throw it, and swing it pretty darn well. It would be awesome if I could do what they do.
ATVL: Was it fun having a college teammate along this summer?
BQ:  Having a teammate on the team with me was huge for me. Abraham Almonte, who was the teammate with me on the Express, is also one of my roommates back in Philadelphia. He is one of the hardest working guys I know, and he only pushes me to become better. We work out together, throw together. We do whatever we have to do to become better every day. He is a guy I can only hope for the best for, and I hope he gets that chance to play at the next level also.
ATVL: You obviously had a great summer. Did you get any nibbles from other programs? (This happens sometimes with high-performing players)
BQ: Thank you a lot, and I was not asked by any other schools to think about them. My time this year is dedicated to Philadelphia University, and that is where I hope I can get another championship, and help my team win.
Thank you for your time, Brandon!
(Rich Cooley/Daily)

(Rich Cooley/Daily)