The Rule 5 draft was held on December 8th, at the end of the annual Winter Meetings. You can click here for the rules of the draft- about who’s eligible and how much each pick costs.
No former Valley Leaguers were chosen in the Major League portion of the draft, but two were chosen in the Triple-A phase. Triple-A and Double-A selections are not required to spend the year in the major leagues, but can be stashed in the minor leagues. Here are the two, who were, oddly enough, teammates for Front Royal 4 years ago:
Jon Fitzsimmons (Front Royal 2012) was picked by the Arizona Diamondbacks from the Cleveland Indians. This was an interesting name to pop up, as Jon was a 2016 free agent signee by the Tribe. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Royals in 2013, Jon was released in 2014. After two seasons in the Independent Canadian-American Association, the Indians scooped him up. In 2016, Jon went 1-0, 3.31 in 16 1/3 innings for Lake County in the Midwest League.
Harrison Cooney (Front Royal 2012), originally from the Los Angeles Angels, was picked by the Boston Red Sox. Harrison appeared on a couple top prospect lists for the Angels, and even reached Double-A in 2015, but appeared in only 2 games in 2016 due to injury.
The two will continue their march towards the major leagues in 2017!
Sometimes an unexpected name pops up in my reading about prospects. Do you know why this is, Brilliant Reader? Because sometimes present results don’t equal future success. Or current ability.
Take Harrison Cooney (Front Royal 2012), for example. In 2014, Harrison went 9-8, 2.65, with 91 strikeouts in 129 innings in the Midwest League. Solid season, of course. In 2015, he moved up to Inland Empire in the California League. He finished the season 1-15, 6.54, with 104 strikeouts in 136 1/3 innings. Did his game fall apart?
We need to be careful making assumptions. We know that the Cal League is very much a hitter’s league- much more so than the Midwest League- so that may be part of it. Sometimes the parent club can ask a player to work on a specific pitch, or scrap an effective pitch for a period of time. At any rate, less-than-optimal results do not necessarily mean that Harrison’s future is less promising. Because….
RHP Harrison Cooney has a good fastball-slider combo, but he lacks balance in his delivery, and his stride direction dramatically changes the quality of his pitches. Could be a bullpen option if he can clean things up a little.
Not a huge analysis, by any measure, but Harrison still can make progress in his chosen profession!
As I’ve reported before, there were five Valley League alums who were invited to the Arizona Fall League. The season is now over, so we can take a look at the final stats of the bunch:
Brian Holmes (Harrisonburg 2010) went 1-0, 1.13 in 6 starts for Glendale. He only allowed 7 hits in 16 innings, but he walked 13 (and struck out 14).
Harrison Cooney (Front Royal 2012) went 0-1, 4.26 in 9 games for Mesa. He walked 9 and struck out 10 in 12 2/3 innings pitched.
Joseph Odom (Winchester 2012) hit 133/133/167 in 30 at-bats for Peoria.
Mac Williamson (Harrisonburg 2011) had a great short season for Scottsdale, hitting 370/442/493 in 73 at-bats. He scored 15 runs, drove in 14, and had an 11/11 BB/K ratio.
Adam Parks (Charles Town 2013) went 0-0, 9.82 in 3 2/3 innings pitched.
So Big Mac had the best Fall, by a pretty wide margin. Of course, he made his major league debut in 2015, as well. In fact, Mac made Jim Callis’s list of top 20 AFL prospects, at #16:
He made his big league debut in September and looked the part more than most Fall Leaguers at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Williamson does a nice job of working counts to get to his solid power, moves well for his size and has a right-field arm.
Hopefully all five can use this experience to springboard to more success!
Harrison Cooney (Front Royal 2012) for A Inland Empire: Harrison had an excellent start, throwing 6 innings and allowing only 3 hits, 1 run (earned), 2 walks, and striking out 11. Inland Empire lost the game, 5-4, but Harrison’s game score was a very high 71. Cooney is now 1-2, 4.66 in 36.2 innings this year.
Chris Huffman (Staunton 2012-13) for A Fort Wayne. This start was originally listed as going to Taylor Cox, but Cox threw a shutout inning in relief instead. Huffman’s season debut went like this: 4 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, 1 BB, 0 K’s, loss, 5-2, game score of 43.
Scheduled for Thursday, May 14
Taylor Hill (Winchester 2008) for AAA Syracuse
Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007) for AAA Buffalo
Max Povse (Staunton 2013) for A Rome
Sam Howard (Staunton 2012) for A Asheville (Povse and Howard are pitching against each other!)