#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:

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:

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!




League Record Book: Total Bases

We’re ready for the latest installment of the Valley League record book from 2004-2017! Cue up the list of most bases in one season….

1 Jimmy Yezzo Winchester 2012 148
2 Joseph Odom Winchester 2012 139
3 Jon Love Front Royal 2004 125
Tyler Kuhn Luray 2006 125
5 Zach Sterry Waynesboro 2016 123
6 Michael Wielansky Charlottesville 2017 122
7 Steve McQuail Front Royal 2009 119
Bradley Picha Winchester 2012 119
9 Jonathan Griffin Luray 2010 117
10 Collin Cowgill Covington 2005 116
11 Leo Rojas Winchester 2012 115

You know what it means, Dear Reader, when we have 11 on a list- someone from 2017 broke the seal! There he is, Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky, with 122 total bases… just about breaking the top 5.

Major Leagues: Collin Cowgill
Current Minor Leagues: Joseph Odom, Zach Sterry
Previous Minor Leagues: Jimmy Yezzo, Tyler Kuhn, Steve McQuail, Jonathan Griffin
No Minor Leagues: Jon Love, Bradley Picha, Leo Rojas
Still in College: Michael Wielansky

Jimmy Yezzo Hagerstown

Jimmy Yezzo playing for Hagerstown

#13 Hitter: Vinnie Pasquantino, Charlottesville

Vinnie Pasquantino Charlottesville 2017One of the things that struck me while I was making the top hitters list is that the Valley League had several true freshmen make quite significant contributions to their VBL teams in 2017.

We’ve already had one listed, Alec Aleywine, and today we have our second, the 13th best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season, Charlottesville’s Vinnie Pasquantino, a freshman from Old Dominion!

The 6-foot-4, 230 pound first baseman was a crucial bat in the Tom Sox lineup. Here are his regular season and playoff numbers:

2017 31 134 24 45 8 1 4 30 14 15 1 2 0.336 0.401 0.500
Play 7 29 5 10 6 0 1 7 3 3 1 0 0.345 0.429 0.655

The communications major brings a very intriguing mix of plate discipline and power to the plate, along with good size… the future looks bright for him. Vinnie finished 8th in the league in RBIs, tied for 6th in HR, and was named to the 2nd team All-Valley at DH. (He traded time at first base with fellow Tom Sox Ari Sechopoulos, and was a designated hitter the rest of the time.) His best game was probably June 21st at Strasburg, when he went 4-5, with 3 runs, a double, home run, walk, and 2 RBIs.

This is what he did at ODU- another good stat line:

2017 58 224 42 72 17 1 5 38 29 28 0 0 0.321 0.397 0.473

Several outlets have their eye on him- he was named a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball News, to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team, and a second team All-State selection by VaSID.

He is definitely one to watch in the future. Congratulations on your excellent summer, Vinnie!

Vinnie Pasquantino resized

Pasquantino “armoring up” before a game in Waynesboro (ATVL)

League Record Book: Hits

The next category for our 2004-2017 Valley League record book is hits. Let’s get right to it…

1 Tyler Kuhn Luray 2006 81
Cory Spangenberg Winchester 2010 81
3 Michael Wielansky Charlottesville 2017 80
4 Jimmy Yezzo Winchester 2012 79
5 Leo Rojas Winchester 2012 76
6 Gunnar McNeill Staunton 2014 75
7 Brad Zebedis Strasburg 2011 73
8 Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 72
Jordan Tarsovich Strasburg 2013 72
10 Andrew Turocy Waynesboro 2010 71
11 Stephen Kerr Charles Town 2014 70

Here we are again, with Michael Wielansky jumping almost to the top of a list of 14 years. Michael fell one hit short of equaling the best. I can think of at least three times he hammered a pitch but didn’t get a hit…. but of course, he probably got at least three hits when he didn’t have a high exit velocity. Anyway. Congrats to Michael.

Interesting that 11 players are within 11 hits of each other.

Major Leaguers: Cory Spangenberg
Current Minor Leaguers: Jordan Tarsovich, Stephen Kerr
Previous Minor Leaguers: Tyler Kuhn, Jimmy Yezzo, Julian Ridings, Andrew Turocy
College: Michael Wielansky
No pro ball (yet?): Leo Rojas, Gunnar McNeill, Brad Zebedis

One more category: VALLEY LEAGUE MVPs! Kuhn, Spangenberg, Wielansky, McNeill, Zebedis, Ridings, Tarsovich- wow! Seven of the eleven.

League Record Book: Runs

The next category in our 2004-2017 league record book in runs scored…..

1 Leo Rojas Winchester 2012 59
2 Tanner Poole Waynesboro 2016 52
3 Jimmy Yezzo Winchester 2012 51
4 Jon Love Front Royal 2004 46
Bruce Sprowl Winchester 2004 46
Jason Kipnis Covington 2007 46
Cory Spangenberg Winchester 2010 46
Michael Wielansky Charlottesville 2017 46
9 Chris Aninos Waynesboro 2007 45
Spencer Wiggins Haymarket 2007 45
Lammar Guy Covington 2009 45
Jay Gonzalez Harrisonburg 2011 45
Joseph Odom Winchester 2012 45
Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 45
Shane Billings Harrisonburg 2015 45

Finally, we have a 2017 entry, which to no one’s surprise, is Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky, coming in tied at #4 after scoring 46 runs this summer.

Major leaguers: Jason Kipnis, Cory Spangenberg
Active in Affiliated Minor Leagues: Jay Gonzalez, Joseph Odom, Shane Billings
Played Affiliated Ball, No Longer Active: Jimmy Yezzo, Julian Ridings
Still in College: Tanner Poole, Michael Wielansky

Leo Rojas Alabama State

Leo Rojas back at Alabama State


Tom Sox Named Summer Team of the Year, and Other Awards

In an absolute first in the history of the league, the Charlottesville Tom Sox have been named the best summer league team in the nation by Perfect Game!

Another media outlet, the website Collegiate Summer Baseball, in what seems like an impossible task, has ranked the top summer league teams from one to thirty. The Tom Sox finished 2nd on this list, behind the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League.

Perfect Game also named their summer All-Americans, and two 2017 VBLers made the lists, while one 2016 alum did as well.

  • Of course, Michael Wielansky (Charlottesville) was named to the first team at 2nd base.
  • Brandon Quaranta (Strasburg) was named to the 2nd team at utility.
  • Zach Neff (Waynesboro 2016) was named to the 1st team at starting pitcher. Zach, from Austin Peay, played in the Coastal Plains League. He went 7-0, 1.45, with 2 saves, 34 hits, 7 walks, and 65 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings pitched. ATVL named Zach the top relief pitcher in the Valley in 2016.

Charlottesville Team Shot resized

League Record Book: Batting Average

One of the things ATVL does in the offseason is take a look at the “league record book,” which is a list of the top performers SINCE 2004. (That’s an important distinction, by the way. Stats from before that were unavailable, so I use what I have.)

These stats also include playoff numbers, but do not include the all-star game or any showcase events.

So let’s get started, shall we? Today we’ll have what might be the most interesting category, since three 2017 VBLers crashed this list- batting average!

1 Michael Wielansky Charlottesville 2017 0.428
2 Brad Zebedis Strasburg 2011 0.420
3 Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 0.419
4 Luke Greinke Winchester 2007 0.417
5 Gunnar McNeill Staunton 2014 0.414
6 Shane Billings Harrisonburg 2015 0.406
7 Jordan Tarsovich Strasburg 2013 0.405
8 Dominic Canzone Front Royal 2017 0.404
9 Cory Spangenberg Winchester 2010 0.399
10 Joe Kemp Harrisonburg 2004 0.396
11 Blake Sipe Staunton 2012 0.396
12 Max Wood Staunton 2017 0.389
13 Mike Garza Woodstock 2010 0.388

(By the way, I am adding players without deleting any, so some of the lists will have more than 10. I’m trying to build the lists back up to 20, if possible. It’s more interesting with more names, wouldn’t you say?)

Three 2017 players grabbed spots on the list; Michael Wielansky, obviously #1, #8 Dominic Canzone, and #12 Max Wood. We now have 8 Valley Leaguers who have hit .400 or better in the last 14 years.

We have one major leaguer on this one: Cory Spangenberg (San Diego Padres). Two more players are currently in affiliated ball: Shane Billings, who is playing in the Cardinals’ system for Palm Beach in the high-A Florida State League, and Jordan Tarsovich, in Double-A for the Oakland A’s system.

Four more players were in affiliated ball, but are no longer. They are #3 Julian Ridings, #4 Luke Greinke, #10 Joe Kemp, and #13 Mike Garza.

The last three, ones who did not play affiliated ball, are #2 Brad Zebedis, #5 Gunnar McNeill, and #11 Blake Sipe (who is playing in the Rockingham County Baseball League). Zebedis hit 328/402/501 in four years at Presbyterian, and also hit 303/363/424 in the Cape Cod League in 2012… and didn’t get drafted. Hard to believe.

By the way, Chaz Weaver lists the highest batting average in the history of the VBL as .466, by Lou Meadows, who played for Staunton in 1981.

Wielansky resized

Michael Wielansky, our new leader of the batting title record book!