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!


Top Minor League Starts, 2016

Just like ATVL keeps track of the top starts (by game score) in the Valley League each season, he tracks minor league starts as well. So here are the top 15 minor league starts in the 2016 season!

The line will look like this: place, name, minor league team, Valley League team, date, and then the line (IP, H, R, ER, BB, K), and then game score

T12. Chris Huffman, Lake Elsinore (Staunton 2012-13), 8/26: 6-3-0-0-0-8; 78

T12. Ryan Yarbrough, Jackson (Luray 2012), 8/3: 6-1-0-0-1-6; 78

T12. Matt Solter, Augusta (Strasburg 2012), 7/29: 7-3-0-0-1-4; 78

T12. Ryan Yarbrough, Jackson (Luray 2012), 5/23: 7-3-0-0-0-7; 78

T10. Max Povse, Carolina (Staunton 2013), 4/15: 7-2-0-0-1-7; 79

T10. Austin Gomber, Springfield (Luray 2012), 7/30: 7-1-0-0-2-3; 79

T8. Chad Kuhl, Indianapolis (New Market 2012), 5/16: 7-1-0-0-1-6; 80

T8. Luke Leftwich, Lakewood (Aldie 2013), 6/7: 8-5-0-0-0-8; 80

7. Ryan Yarbrough, Jackson (Luray 2012), 7/29: 7-3-0-0-0-5; 81

6. James Reeves, Tampa (Staunton 2013), 7/20: 7-2-0-0-1-6; 82

5. Drew Rucinski, Iowa (Luray 2009-10), 9/4: 7.2-3-1-1-1-8; 83

4. Logan Boyd, Greenville (Charles Town 2013), 7/21: 7-1-0-0-2-8; 84

3. Sam Howard, Modesto (Staunton 2012), 5/28: 8-2-0-0-3-10; 85

And the two best starts in the entire minor league season belong to….

T1. Austin Gomber, Palm Beach (Luray 2012), 7/20: 9-6-1-1-0-8; 87

T1. Max Povse, Mississippi (Staunton 2013), 8/20: 8-2-0-0-1-5; 87

Quick breakdown: 

Ryan Yarbrough appears 3 times; Max Povse and Austin Gomber appear twice.

Teams (Counting each player only once):

Staunton- 4
Luray- 3
Charles Town, New Market, Aldie and Strasburg- 1


Chris Huffman, Max Povse and James Reeves played in Staunton in 2013
Ryan Yarbrough and Austin Gomber pitched in Luray in 2012

Max Povse

Max Povse

Austin Gomber

Austin Gomber

Minor League Record Book: ERA in a Season

Welcome to the last minor league record book category- best ERA in a season by a Valley League alumnus since the 2006 draft! I have set the minimum at 120 innings pitched, by the way.

1 Brad Mills Harrisonburg ’05 2008 1.95
2 Elih Villanueva Luray ’07 2010 2.26
3 Rowdy Hardy Staunton ’04 2007 2.48
Chad Kuhl New Market ’12 2015 2.48
5 Tyler Thornburg Winchester ’08 2011 2.57
6 Michael Bowman Staunton ’06 2009 2.60
7 Harrison Cooney Front Royal ’12 2014 2.65
8 Austin Gomber Luray ’12 2015 2.67
9 Cole McCurry New Market ’05 2009 2.71
10 Taylor Hill Winchester ’08 2014 2.81

Oddly enough, no one is on the list twice. The most recent add is Austin Gomber in 2015- in at #8.

Major leaguers: Brad Mills, Elih Villanueva, Chad Kuhl, Tyler Thornburg, Taylor Hill

Still in affiliated ball: Mills, Kuhl, Thornburg, Harrison Cooney (injured much of ’16), Gomber, and Hill

All we have left is the major league portion of the record book- starting soon!

Chad Kuhl in the majors in 2016

Chad Kuhl in the majors in 2016

Minor League Record Book: Season Wins

So now that we’ve finished up the career section for pitchers, let’s take a look at season highs. (I can’t help but think about how much pitching has changed since I was pitching in college- pitch counts, innings limits…. things are so different now! (Not necessarily worse, just different.))

Take a look at the most wins in one season in the minor leagues by a Valley League alumnus since the 2006 draft…

1 Rowdy Hardy Staunton ’04 2007 15
Levi Maxwell Waynesboro ’06 2008 15
Austin Gomber Luray ’12 2015 15
4 Mike Ballard Staunton ’04 2007 14
Elih Villanueva Luray ’07 2010 14
Ben Alsup Luray ’09, Stan ’10 2012 14
Brandon Sinnery Winchester ’09 2014 14
Logan Boyd Charles Town ’13 2016 14
9 Brad Mills Harrisonburg ’05 2008 13
Joey Williamson Luray ’05 2009 13
Ben Alsup Luray ’09, Stan ’10 2013 13
Chad Kuhl New Market ’12 2014 13

The first thing you should notice about this, Brilliant Reader, is that only 2 wins separate the bottom from the top! That’s pretty amazing. The other thing is that there are 12 seasons represented here, but only one pitcher- Ben Alsup– is listed twice. Ben went 27-13 over 2012-2013, but then fell to 3-14 in 2014, and then left baseball.

The newest member of this list is Logan Boyd, who went 14-7 in the South Atlantic League in 2016.

Major leaguers: Elih Villanueva, Brad Mills, and Chad Kuhl (Who made his major league debut in 2016!)

Out of affiliated ball: Rowdy Hardy, Levi Maxwell, Mike Ballard, Villanueva, Alsup, Brandon Sinnery, Joey Williamson

Still hanging in there: Austin Gomber (who might pitch in the majors in 2017), Boyd, Brad Mills, Kuhl

Next up: saves!

Rowdy Hardy

Rowdy Hardy

Organization All-Stars! Here They Are!

Every year, much to ATVL’s delight, names the players who performed best at each position in each major league organization’s minor league system (that was a mouthful). They call them “Organization All-Stars.”

The reason I appreciate this series is that they name the player with the best stats, not the player with the best pedigree or best major league profile. So, of course, I scour the lists each year to find the former Valley Leaguers. This year, seven alumni were named: three relief pitchers, two left handed starters, an outfielder, and a utility player.

Ready? Let’s take a gander at the players and milb’s writeups on said players….

BaltimoreRyan Meisinger (Staunton 2014), relief pitcher.

Meisinger was a force out of the bullpen, often pitching two Ryan Meisinger All-Star game 2016or even three innings at a time. The 22-year-old right-hander rang up 94 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .212 batting average. Meisinger’s 1.57 ERA between the two levels dropped his career mark over two seasons to 1.65.

ColoradoStephen Cardullo (Covington 2007), outfielder, who made his major league debut in 2016.

As unlikely an Organization All-Star as any, Cardullo Cardullomade the Majors in 2016 after never having played above the Rookie level in affiliated ball. Discovered by the Rockies in an independent league, Cardullo handled the outfield and a late-season transition to first base, hitting .308/.367/.522 for the Isotopes. The Florida State product and former D-backs draftee made his Major League debut on Aug. 27 and hit his first big league homer four days later — on his 29th birthday.

MilwaukeeStephen Kohlscheen (Harrisonburg 2010), relief pitcher. (I love that he was a free agent pickup by the Brewers before 2016!)

Not only did Kohlscheen tie for the organization lead with Stephen Kohlscheen23 saves with Nate Griep, but his 2.54 ERA ranked second in the system among relievers with 25 or more appearances, he converted 23 of 25 save chances and he struck out 67 batters in 49 2/3 innings. Not bad for a 28-year-old who was released by the San Diego Padres in March before signing a Minor League contract with the Brewers.

OaklandJoe Bennie (Strasburg 2011), utility player. Joe’s brother Robert joined the A’s system in 2016.

With “an innate ability to hit,” Bennie had his best statistical season with 13 jacks and 76 RBIs. The 25-year-old kept his Joe Bennie August 2015offense up while moving around the field. Bennie saw time at second, third, left and right this season.

“Joe’s an exceptional individual in terms of his work ethic, his dedication, his commitment to the game and his willingness to basically adapt and try to make adjustments and real change in how he plays the game,” [Stockton manager Rick] Magnante said. “And that was reflected this year in terms of the growth and development that he showed. He was definitely a hard worker.”

San DiegoKyle McGrath (Staunton 2011), relief pitcher.

The fans’ MiLBY selection as Top Relief Pitcher blazed through three levels, dominating every step of the way. Kyle McGrathMcGrath finished the year with a 0.93 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 67 innings. Opponents hit just .174 against the Louisville product, who has a 1.45 ERA and a strikeout rate of better than 10 per nine innings in 100 career appearances.

SeattleRyan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), left-handed starter.

The southpaw complement to [Andrew] Moore, Yarbrough was an anchor for the Generals, putting up a 12-4 record Ryan Yarbroughand a 2.95 ERA. The Old Dominion product won six straight starts from April 30 through May 29, kicking off that streak with a seven-inning shutout of Mobile. He wrapped his season with five wins in his final six decisions and a 1.13 ERA in four August starts, capturing midseason and postseason All-Star honors and the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher award.

St.LouisAustin Gomber (Luray 2012), left-handed starter, and Yarbrough’s teammate in 2012! (And Luray only went 16-26 that season. Hmm.)

Gomber went 7-8 with a 2.69 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 127 innings, including a 1.40 ERA in 19 1/3 frames with Austin Gomber Peoria 2015Springfield. The 23-year-old has posted an ERA under 3.00 every season since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft.

“He continues to put together quality innings and quality starts,” [Cardinals director of player development Gary] LaRocque said. “He’s worked very hard on his secondary pitches. He’s got a good feel of his off-speed stuff and can pitch with contrast. Austin just continues to move through the system and produce at every level.”

Two from Luray and Staunton; one each from Harrisonburg, Covington, and Strasburg.

Congratulations to all 7 players!

Gomber Beginning to Emerge

That title may not be quite accurate, as you, brilliant reader, could make the case that Austin Gomber, a Luray Wrangler in 2012, definitely emerged in 2015, when he went 15-3, 2.67 for Low-A Peoria.

But now the scouts are starting to pay attention to how Austin is throwing in the Arizona Fall League. Baseball America wrote this about Austin’s play thus far:

Gomber is racking up the innings, and the looks from scouts—internal and outside the organization—in the Arizona Fall League. The former Florida Atlantic starter pitched 5.2 solid innings (5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 5 SO) Friday as Glendale beat Peoria 5-1. He improved to 4-0, 1.99 and he leads the Fall League in innings with 22.2 and he’s tied with Diamondbacks reliever Jared Miller for most strikeouts with 24. Gomber has a back-end rotation profile and has been compared to fellow Cardinals lefthander Tim Cooney. His curveball has shown the most improvement of his three-pitch mix since he turned pro.

Austin went 7-8, 2.69 in High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield in 2016, along with 116 strikeouts in 127 innings pitched. I think he’ll start showing up on top prospect lists this offseason!

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Five Excellent Minor League Starts!

In case you’re wondering, brilliant reader, I am still keeping a log of every minor league start of Valley League alumni. Every once in a while, lightning strikes, and a number of awesome starts happen on the same night.

Last night was one of those nights- out of the seven total starts, five of them were well above average!

So, I need to tell you about them, don’t I?

  1. Austin Gomber (Luray 2012) threw 9 innings for High-A Palm Beach, allowing only 6 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and struck out 8. His game score is a huge 87. Almost unbelievably, though, he also lost the game, 1-0. About two weeks ago, Austin made a spot start for Double-A Springfield, and threw quite well. Overall in 2016, Austin is 6-7, 2.79, with a 1.12 WHIP, 27 walks and 97 strikeouts in 106.1 innings.
  2. James Reeves (Staunton 2013) also had a game score in the 80’s- he ended up at 82. He threw 7 shutout innings with only 2 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts for High-A Tampa. He won his game. James appeared in 4 games for Low-A Charleston, and last night was his 18th appearance for High-A Tampa. Combined, he’s 4-2, 1.74, with a 0.79 WHIP, and 22 walks and 84 strikeouts in 67.1 innings. Move him up!
  3. It was great to see Hunter Adkins (Staunton 2010) throw a super game for Double-A Jacksonville. Hunter was released by the Oakland A’s back in 2014, and he spent time in two separate Independent Leagues in 2015, before the Miami Marlins signed him in December of that year. Last night, Hunter threw 7 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 2. He got the win and a game score of 76. He’s pitched at three different levels in 2016, and has gone a combined 2-6, 6.22, with a 1.50 WHIP, 25 walks and 58 strikeouts in 68 innings.
  4. The very large Max Povse (Staunton 2013) threw an excellent game for Double-A Mississippi in the Atlanta Braves’ system last night. He allowed 5 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run against 5 strikeouts in 7 innings. He got the win and a game score of 72. Max had started 15 games for High-A Carolina, and last night was his third in Double-A. Combined, he’s 7-5, 3.66, with only 18 walks against 104 strikeouts in 105.2 innings. Only 18 walks! (Max is listed at 6-foot-8)
  5. Taylor Hill (Winchester 2008) has the last one. In 7 innings for Triple-A Syracuse, Taylor allowed 5 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and struck out 3. His game score is 64. Taylor has had cups of coffee in the majors in both 2014 and 2015, but he’s spent all of 2016 in Triple-A. For the year, he’s 4-8, 4.25, with 26 walks and 74 strikeouts in 110 innings. Since the 2006 draft, Taylor is tied for 8th with 38 career minor league wins.

All five of these starts happened last night, July 20th!

James Reeves firing a pitch for Tampa

James Reeves firing a pitch for Tampa