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 Hitters off to Screaming Starts

(Not a Daniel Murphy scream, but a scorching hot start…)

  • Tyler Ratliff (Purcellville 2016-7) was drafted by Texas in the 17th round just a couple weeks ago. After signing, he was sent to the Arizona League, where he is annihilating the pitching. Overall, he’s hitting 500/541/618 in his first 34 pro at-bats, with 13 runs scored, 9 RBIs, and 4 doubles. He went 5-5 with 5 RBIs in his second game as a professional.
  • Ben Breazeale (Harrisonburg 2014) was drafted by the Orioles ten rounds before Ratliff. He’s appeared in ten games so far, and hit safely in nine of them for Aberdeen. He’s at 486/571/771, with 6 runs, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, and a 7/8 BB/K ratio. He went 4-5 just last night.
  • Robby Rinn (Aldie 2013) was drafted in 2016 by the Royals. He hit 280/341/386 in 189 at-bats in his pro debut, but has exploded in 16 games and 66 at-bats in 2017 so far. He’s at 379/468/545 for Idaho Falls, with 13 runs, 5 doubles, 2 home runs, and a whopping 21 RBIs.
  • Gabriel Garcia (Winchester 2016) had a very good pro debut in 2016, hitting 300/393/500 and being noticed by various media outlets as a prospect to watch. Now a year later, and assigned to Helena of the Pioneer League, Gabriel is hitting 308/471/481 in 15 games and 52 at-bats. He has 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 11 RBIs, and 12 walks. He’s one to watch.

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!

21 Players Released

We have reached the time of year when major league organizations start culling players from their system. More than usual, anyway. It seems to be a constant numbers game- new free agents signed are moving in, players are moving up levels, and there just isn’t enough space for everyone. Things change quickly.

So that means that players are released. Sometimes these players are grabbed right away by other organizations (Jon Fitzsimmons (Front Royal 2012), released by Arizona, signed immediately by the Angels, James Alfonso a couple days ago), and some move on to Indy Leagues (Stephen Cardullo (Covington 2007) spent years toiling in Indy Ball, and Fitzsimmons fits here, too), but for many, their careers are over.

21 former Valley Leaguers have been released in the last three months. Let’s give them what might be their last moment in this space:

  • Jamill Moquete (Winchester 2012), picked in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft. Jamill played 82 games in 2014-15 in Baltimore’s system, finishing with a 212/325/431 stat line. He did not play in 2016 due to injury.
  • Logan Longwith (Front Royal 2014-15), Detroit’s 20th round pick in 2015. Logan went 3-4, 4.14 in 41 games and 78 1/3 innings over his two seasons in the minors. He finished with a 1/3 BB/9 and 7.6 K/9.
  • Brandon Glazer (Waynesboro 2013). The Angels signed Brandon as a free agent in 2015. (Interestingly, he was a high school draftee in 2010, but did not sign.) Brandon went 3-9, 4.84 in 32 games and 96 2/3 IP over two seasons. He finished with a 1.324 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and 6.0 K/9.
  • James Alfonso (Front Royal 2012), a 30th round pick of Seattle in 2014. James got a total of 524 at-bats in 3 minor league seasons, and hit 254/329/358. He hit 20 doubles in 276 at-bats in Clinton in 2016. BREAKING NEWS: James was signed by the Los Angeles Angels just a few days after being released!
  • Ray Guerrini (Rockbridge 2013), who was signed as a free agent by the Seattle Mariners in 2016. He received a total of 83 plate appearances, and hit 250/415/313. His OBP is so high because he walked 12 times and was hit by a pitch 6 times. Ray is the 2nd-to-last Rockbridge Rapid left in organized ball. Can anyone name the last?
  • Orlando Olivera (Luray 2011-12)- drafted in 38th round in 2015 by the Cardinals. Overall, he hit 265/324/385 in 533 at-bats in 2 seasons. Hit 340/392/521 in 2015 to win ATVL’s prestigious (hah) short season A-ball hitter of the year, but he didn’t duplicate those numbers the next year in full season ball.
  • Aaron Attaway (Haymarket 2011)- drafted in 2014 by Toronto. Over 3 seasons and 357 at-bats, he hit 210/311/297.
  • Jordan Edgerton (Woodstock 2013)- drafted in the 9th round in 2014 by Atlanta. Jordan hit 239/286/331 in 1085 at-bats over 3 seasons. He hit 27 doubles in the Carolina League in 2016.
  • Josh Gardiner (Strasburg 2012)- signed as a free agent by the Yankees in 2016. Josh got a grand total of 77 plate appearances in organized ball, hitting 250/377/328 for Pulaski in the Appy League.
  • Jake Johnson (Charles Town 2013)- 16th round pick in 2015 by the Reds. Jake went 4-7, 6.80, with a 1.915 WHIP, 5.6 BB/9, and 9.1 K/9 in 82 total innings.
  • Joe Maloney (New Market 2010)- 10th round pick in 2011 by the Texas Rangers, spent 2 seasons in Indy Ball. Overall, hit 234/302/386 in 1066 total at-bats. He hit 27 doubles and 14 home runs at two different minor league levels in 2013.
  • Chaz Pal (Charles Town 2014), a 38th round pick of the Astros in 2016. Chaz hit 269/336/462 in 104 at-bats for Greeneville in the Appy League.
  • Ben Paullus (Woodstock 2010). Originally drafted by the Yankees in 2011, Ben spent the last couple seasons in the San Diego Padres’ system. Ben went 14-8, 4.47, with a 1.427 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and 8.2 K/9 in 143 games and 231 1/3 innings pitched.
  • Andy Perez (Harrisonburg 2013)- a free agent signing out of Duke by the Boston Red Sox. Andy played in the minors for parts of two seasons only, and hit very well, putting up a 318/391/393 slash line, albeit in only 201 total at-bats.
  • Chris Diaz (Staunton 2012). Chris was a 5th round pick of the Braves back in 2014. Chris pitched in 10 games in 2014, but had labrum surgery and missed all of 2015 and 2016.
  • Garrett Cortright (Front Royal 2011-12)- 40th round pick in 2013 of the Orioles. Over 4 seasons, Garrett went 9-10, 2.32, with a 1.167 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and 6.2 K/9 in 198 total innings.
  • Michael Katz (Waynesboro 2012)- 9th round pick of the Mets in 2014. The Mets released him a month ago, the Orioles signed him, and subsequently released him a couple days ago. Michael hit 236/305/335 in 200 minor league games.
  • Alexander Fernandez (Staunton 2012). 25th round pick in 2015 of the Marlins, Alex was released in 2016, signed by the Tigers, and now has been released again. He hit 244/346/362 in 399 minor league plate appearances.
  • Garrett Kelly (New Market 2014), signed as a free agent in 2016 by the Twins. He pitched in 18 games in the Gulf Coast League in ’16.
  • Josh Judy (Haymarket 2006-07). Josh is an “old” name to readers of this space. He pitched in 12 games in the majors in 2011 for the Indians. He pitched in the Mexican League in 2016, and was signed by the Mariners before spring training. Alas, they released him a few days ago.
  • David Carpenter (Covington 2004). David has had the most illustrious major league career of the players on this list, as he’s pitched in 211 major league games. (He made $1.3 million for the Yankees in 2015!) The Rays signed David as a free agent in January, but was released at the end of spring training.
  • Matt Tindall (Aldie 2013), a free agent signee in 2015 of the Angels. He finished in the National’s system in 2016. Overall, he went 5-6, 5.44 in 48 minor league innings.

Two last updates:

  • Rico Noel (Covington 2008) signed with the Indy ball Lancaster Barnstormers. Rico played in 15 games for the Yankees in 2015. He only got 2 at-bats, but he stole 5 bases. Rico holds most of the stolen base record in the minor leagues for the VBL, or at least since the 2006 draft.
  • Tyler Bortnick (Front Royal 2006) also signed with an Indy team- the Somerset Patriots. Tyler hit 280/380/408 in over 2,400 minor league at-bats. He did not make the majors, but played almost 200 games in Triple-A.

Well, guys, you got to chase the dream for a while. I would love for all VBLers to make the major leagues, but as we all know, that’s just not the way it works.

(By the way, according to my records, including Japan, there are 155 active minor and major league players at the moment- and 607 former players (from the 2006 draft))

Boyd, Martin, Reeves Named Pitchers of the Week

Valley League alumni had a banner week ending July 24- three young men were named the pitcher of the week in their respective league!

  • James Reeves (Staunton 2013) was named the pitcher of the week in the Florida State League on the strength of 7 shutout, 2-hit innings. James is 5-2, 1.72 in 73.1 innings over 2 levels this season. He’s given up an incredible 33 hits in those 73 innings, while he’s struck out 91.
  • Logan Boyd (Charles Town 2013) is the pitcher of the week in the South Atlantic League, also after 7 shutout innings, except that Logan gave up only ONE hit is his start. Boyd is now 10-6, 4.95 in 100 innings pitched in 2016.
  • Chad Martin (Aldie 2014) was named the POW of the Appalachian League, after he threw 6 innings of shutout, one-hit ball for Pulaski. Chad is 3-2, 2.55 after 7 starts in 2016.

Congrats to all three!

James Reeves

James Reeves

Logan Boyd

Logan Boyd

Chad Martin

Chad Martin

More All-Stars: Meisinger, Murray, and Leftwich

Three more Valley Leaguers were named and appeared in their league’s all-star game, and then, awesomely enough, all three were moved up a level immediately after the game!

  1. Ryan Meisinger (Staunton 2014) appeared in the South Atlantic League all-star game on June 21st. He gave up a home run in his 2/3 of an inning stint in the actual all-star game (Austin Rei hit it). Ryan crushed the SAL in his time with Delmarva; he went 3-2, 0.78, with 4 saves, 24 hits, 9 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings pitched. That’s only 33 baserunners against 48 K’s. He’s been moved up to the Frederick Keys in the Carolina League, but he hasn’t appeared in a game yet.
  2. Luke Leftwich (Aldie 2013) also appeared in the SAL all-star game. He threw a shutout inning, the 3rd, for the North Division. Luke’s numbers are just as good, if not better, than Meisinger’s, although Luke put his up as a starter, unlike Ryan. Over 12 starts for Lakewood, Leftwich went 7-3, 2.00, with 55 hits, 18 walks, and 88 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings pitched. He was also named the SAL Pitcher of the Week on June 20th. Luke has been moved up to Clearwater of the Florida State League, but has not appeared in a game yet (he’s scheduled to start tonight!).
  3. AJ Murray (Harrisonburg 2012) was chosen to play in the Midwest League all-star game. He hit a home run with a man on base in the contest. Afterwards, he was called up to Fort Myers of the Florida State League. For Cedar Rapids, he hit 262/346/415 in 229 at-bats, with 15 doubles and 6 home runs. He’s 1-8 so far in the FSL.

Congratulations to all three players!

Meisinger

Meisinger

Leftwich

Leftwich

Murray

Murray

Four Great Starts

On Friday and Saturday, four former Valley Leaguers started a game on the mound, and recorded a game score of 69 or better. To make it even more fun, the four games were on four different levels. From top to bottom:

  • Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system, threw 6 shutout innings on Saturday against Norfolk. His team went on to lose the game, but Chad did all he could, putting up a game score of 69. In those 6 innings, he allowed 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 3. For the season so far, Chad is 2-0, 1.31, with 15 hits, 4 walks, and 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings pitched. Call him up!
  •  The best start of the four was turned in by Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), who threw 7 shutout innings for Double-A Jackson, of the Seattle Mariners’ system (on Star Wars night!). Ryan allowed 3 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 4, to earn a game score of 73. Ryan is now 1-1, 3.04 on the season, with 22 hits, 11 walks, and 23 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Luke Leftwich (Aldie 2013) continued his strikeout tear for Low-A Lakewood (Phillies’ affiliate), which his dominating performance over Greenville on Friday. Luke finished 6 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks, and struck out 11 to earn a game score of 70. For the season, Luke is 1-1, 3.00, with 29 strikeouts in only 18 innings!
  • Also on Friday, Brandon Gold (Harrisonburg 2014) turned in a masterful performance for Georgia Tech, as they defeated #15 Coastal Carolina, 9-1. Brandon threw 8 innings and allowed only 6 hits, 2 walks, 1 earned run, and struck out 5 for a game score of 69. By ERA, Brandon has been the best Yellow Jacket by a pretty fair margin this year. The junior is 5-2, 2.36, with 70 hits, 20 walks, and 59 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings.

Congrats to all four pitchers!

Brandon Gold (Aaron Fitt)

Brandon Gold (Aaron Fitt)