#15B Hitter: Bruce Strickland, Covington

Bruce Strickland Felician 2017The first hitter that we will celebrate this offseason is Bruce Strickland, the 6-foot-1, 200 pound shortstop from Felician College!

The returning Covington Lumberjack came a little late- his first game was on June 17- but he had an excellent summer in the middle of the Lumberjack lineup. Here are Bruce’s stats for the last two years in the Valley:

2016 31 100 10 26 4 1 0 13 6 12 0 0 0.260 0.325 0.320
Play 4 16 4 10 0 1 0 2 0 1 1 1 0.625 0.625 0.700
2017 31 119 23 39 9 3 4 27 2 14 0 2 0.328 0.339 0.555

(The “Play” under 2016 is the line for his playoff performance in 2016.)

As you can see, Strickland added quite a bit of power to his game for 2017, increasing his slugging percentage 235 points, while also adding 68 points to his batting average. Bruce finished 5th in the league in slugging, tied for 9th in RBIs, tied for 6th in home runs, tied for 4th in triples, and tied for 10th in doubles. He was voted first-team All-Valley at 3B. And this is why Strickland is our #15B hitter of the 2017 Valley League season! 

The rising senior has also put up excellent numbers for Felician. Take a look:

2015 44 142 25 50 9 2 0 25 14 20 9 1 0.350 0.434 0.441
2016 55 224 40 66 8 5 0 24 18 33 16 7 0.295 0.355 0.375
2017 50 196 52 67 18 6 1 31 10 13 6 1 0.342 0.410 0.510
Tot. 149 563 117 183 35 13 1 80 42 66 31 9 0.325 0.394 0.439

A 325/394/439 career over 563 career at-bats is nothing to sneeze at! With another solid season in 2018, perhaps Bruce will be drafted next June.

Congratulations on your excellent summer season!

Bruce Strickland Felician

Baseball America Top 100 Prospects

Baseball America publishes a list of their top 100 prospects each year, and have done so since 1990.

So, you know what I had to do, Brilliant Reader… here is every Valley League alumnus who has been named in the history of the BA 100 list!

1990-1997: None

1998: Mike Lowell, #71, 3B, New York Yankees (Waynesboro 1993)

1999: None

2000: Adam Everett, #76, SS, Houston Astros (Winchester 1996)
Aubrey Huff, #98, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (Staunton 1997)

2001: Jon Rauch, #4, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Harrisonburg 1998)
Aubrey Huff, #43

2002: Jon Rauch, #92

2003: Jon Rauch, #92

2004-2005: None

2006: Cliff Pennington, #83, SS, Oakland A’s (Harrisonburg 2003)

2007: None

2008: Chris Perez, #97, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Staunton 2004)

2009: Yonder Alonso, #35, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (Luray 2006)

2010: Yonder Alonso, #45

2011: Jason Kipnis, #54, 2B, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07)
Yonder Alonso, #73

2012: Yonder Alonso, #33
Cory Spangenberg, #78, 2B, San Diego Padres (Winchester 2010)

2013-2017: None

If I had to guess who will make the list in the coming year, I would say Nate Pearson (Staunton 2016) had a solid shot, especially with his velocity (he’s hit 100+ on the radar gun a number of times).

So, if you’re keeping score at home, 9 different players have been named a top 100 prospect. Two come from Harrisonburg, Winchester, and Staunton, and one comes from Waynesboro, Luray, and Covington. Every single one of the nine has had a nice career in the major leagues.

Mike Lowell Boston Red Sox

Mike Lowell with the Red Sox

Four Quick Transactions


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.

Results from Thursday, July 27

Even with the rain, all games carried on…


Covington 2, Harrisonburg 0
Charlottesville 9, Staunton 4
Winchester 10, Purcellville 2
Strasburg 11, Front Royal 7
New Market 11, Woodstock 6

Hitter of the Day

Kyle Battle ODU 2017Our HOD is Charlottesville’s Kyle Battle, from Old Dominion! Kyle went 3-3 last night, with 3 runs, 3 RBIs, a walk, double, and home run. Kyle finished the regular season at 244/298/309 in 123 at-bats.

Others of Note

Caleb Walls, Covington: 2-3, run, BB, SB
Jat Charleston, Staunton: 2 stolen bases, giving him 39 for the year: according to both my records and Chaz Weaver’s, this is the most in the history of the VBL!
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-4, run, 2 RBIs, HR, ended regular season with a 21-game hitting streak
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville; 2-4, run, 2 RBIs, 2 2B, ended regular season with a .432 batting average!
Dillon Reed, Winchester: 1-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 2B
Alex Reynolds, Winchester: 2-4, 3 RBIs, HBP
Alejandro Rivero, Winchester: 2-4, run, BB, 2B
Seth Woodard, Winchester: 2-3, 2 runs, 2 BB
Turner Buis, Strasburg: 3-4, 2 runs, BB
Kenny Bergmann, Front Royal: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B, HR
Connor Golden, Woodstock: 2-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 HRs
Jordan Braniff, Woodstock: 2-4, run, 2B, 3B
Blake Reese, New Market: 2-3, 3 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 BB, HR, 2 SB
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, HR
Jake Washer, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B, HR

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Covington’s Reed McNeer, from Concord! Reed went 6 shutout innings against Reed McNeer Concord 2017the Turks while allowing 4 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 3. He’s now 2-1, 6.75 over 13 1/3 innings this summer. I believe Reed is transferring to West Virginia Tech this fall.

Others of Note

John Gregory, Harriosnburg: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K’s, loss (54)
Robert Bamford, Winchester: 6 .IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K’s, win in relief
Jackson Ray, Strasburg: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K’s

Friday Night’s Game

New Market at Strasburg (I really wonder if this game will be played. It has no bearing in the standings… and it may rain, too)

PLAYOFFS START SATURDAY! (Playoff update coming soon)

Results from Saturday July 22

Three games were postponed yesterday, but two were able to dodge the storms and get it done.


Charlottesville 6, Harrisonburg 1
Covington 11, Waynesboro 4

Hitter(s) of the Day

Two performances were amazing last night, and while not exactly the same, were close enough to warrant some attention. So we have two hitters of the day:

  • Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: 3-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, double, triple, and home run. A single short of the cycle! Michael is now hitting a crazy 434/494/657 in 143 at-bats, with 15 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs, 30 RBIs, and 34 runs scored… along with a 18/13 BB/K ratio. MVP, anyone?
  • Bruce Strickland, Covington: 4-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 doubles, and a home run. Bruce is at 337/343/604 in 101 at-bats, with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, 25 RBIs, and 21 runs scored. He also has a sterling BB/K ratio- 25/13.

Others of Note

Tyrie Blalock, Charlottesville: 2-3, RBI, BB, SB
Orley Arrellano, Covington: 1-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, BB, HR, SF
Sean Lawlor, Covington: 2-4, 2 runs, BB
Riley Mihalik, Covington: 2-5, run, 5 RBIs, HR

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Charlottesville’s Justin Sorokowski, from Florida State. Justin threw 4 innings against the Turks, allowing 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and striking out 3. Justin is now 3-1, 4.17 in 32 1/3 innings pitched.

Other of Note

Sebastian Dunn, Covington: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K’s

Sunday’s Games

Harrisonburg at Waynesboro
New Market at Front Royal
Purcellville at Strasburg
Woodstock at Winchester

Want to Know Where Current Pro Players Are From?

What a terrible title, but we’re going with it.

I’ve started working on a new project, one I should finish this weekend- I’m listing all pro players, both current and “retired,” by Valley League team (and within that, by season).

It’s always been fascinating to me to have this conversation- which teams have the most pro players? I was having a conversation with Staunton’s Steve Cox about a week ago, and I mentioned the 2006 New Market Rebels- the team that went 32-10 in the regular season. Right away, we were naming players from that squad- Joey Butler, Brandon Dickson, Gerard Haran….

So I was able to enter the current pro players yesterday, and I noticed something- some teams have tons of alumni playing, while others….. do….. not.

So I had to count them, of course. Ready? (By the way, I did not count Indy Ball players, OR foreign players)

  1. Harrisonburg Turks- 34
  2. Staunton Braves- 24
  3. Front Royal Cardinals- 19 (Hunter Newman was just released- bummer)
  4. Purcellville/Charles Town Cannons- 16
  5. Waynesboro Generals- 15
  6. Luray Wranglers and Winchester Royals- 14
  7. Haymarket/Aldie Senators- 12
  8. Covington Lumberjacks and Woodstock River Bandits- 10
  9. New Market Rebels and Strasburg Express- 8
  10. Charlottesville Tom Sox- 4

A couple thoughts here. First, Strasburg came into existence in 2011, and Charlottesville in 2015. Their numbers are smaller, most probably, for that reason.

Not to be too critical, but the number from New Market, Covington, and Woodstock is a little bit shocking. When you see Haymarket/Aldie with more even though the team folded after 2015….

And Luray still has 15 active, even though they were sold and moved after the 2012 season.

Of course, this can change very quickly- in fact, any of these teams could have free agents signed at any time.

Thoughts? Get a thread going!

Tom Sox, ‘Jacks on Record-Setting Pace?

Yes and no.

Looking back at the standings since 2001, the Charlottesville Tom Sox are on a record pace, but the Covington Lumberjacks are a little bit off (better).

First of all, the Tom Sox are 17-5, which is a winning percentage of .773. If the team continues at this pace, it will be the best winning percentage in the last 17 years. The next best would be the 2006 New Market Rebels, who finished 32-10, with a percentage of .762.

Secondly, the Lumberjacks are 6-17, with a winning percentage of .261. If the team continued at this pace, they would not have the worst percentage since ’01… “only” the 3rd worst. The 2007 Haymarket Senators finished 11-32-1, with a percentage of .250, and the 2009 Rockbridge Rapids hold the crown after finishing 9-33… a “winning” percentage of .214. The Lumberjacks would have to go 3-16 the rest of the way to equal the Rapids, which I certainly don’t see happening.