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

Yarbrough Named Pitcher of the Week

Ryan Yarbrough Durham 2017The Valley League has quite a number of pitchers performing well at the upper-most levels of the minor leagues, just waiting for the call to the Show.

Kevin Herget (Strasburg 2012), Sam Howard (Staunton 2012), Chad Huffman (Staunton 2012-13), and Austin Gomber (Luray 2012) come immediately to mind.

There’s one more, of course, and he’s been pitching so well lately that he’s been named the International League’s pitcher of the week for July 31-August 6. That’s Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), who went 2-0, 0.00 over 13 2/3 innings, with only 4 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts for Triple-A Durham. Overall, Ryan is 12-5, 3.27, with a 1.14 WHIP over 135 innings in 2017. He’s allowed 114 hits, 35 walks, and struck out 131 batters.

I would be surprised if Ryan doesn’t get the call sometime between now and the end of the major league season. Perhaps he’ll help with the Tampa Bay push for a playoff spot….

Three Quick Hits

There are a few small news stories to cover today!

  • Jack Leathersich (Haymarket 2009) has been called up to join the Chicago Cubs. He made his major league debut in 2015, and has been working his way back ever since. He is the 24th Valley League alumnus to play in the majors in 2017 (assuming he does actually pitch in a game soon, of course).
  • Tony Thomas (Harrisonburg 2005) has been named to the American Association All-Star team. He’s hitting 296/362/542 in 179 at-bats for the St. Paul Saints.
  • Two former Valley Leaguers have been named to the major league All-Star teamDaniel Murphy (Luray 2004-5) and Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006). Murphy is hitting 341/395/575 in 308 at-bats, with 26 doubles, 14 home runs, and 60 RBIs. Whoa. Alonso is hitting 280/375/568 in 243 at-bats, with 13 doubles, 19 home runs, and 41 RBIs. His previous high in home runs was NINE.

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!

 

Update on Lang, Villanueva, Jones, and O’Reilly

For our afternoon post, here are four quick updates on former Valley Leaguers!

  • Michael Lang (Haymarket 2009), a free agent signee of the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2012, spent parts of two seasons in the Diamondback system. He was scooped up by Sioux City of the Independent American Association, and has now spent parts of 5 seasons there. A few days ago, he set the franchise record for career triples- he has 23 in his Indy ball career. He already owned the single season record, by the way.
  • Elih Villanueva (Luray 2007) is an old name among ATVL’s regular readers. He started 170 minor league games between 2008 and 2015, and 1 major league game in 2011 (against the Phillies, who whacked him pretty good). Elih was released by the Baltimore Orioles after the 2015 minor league season. He pitched in the Dominican Winter League, but was not signed by another club. He didn’t pitch in 2016, but signed with the Independent Lancaster Barnstormers in the Atlantic League this spring, where he went 5-1, 2.72 in 7 starts. All this to say that Elih was signed by the Red Sox a couple days ago, and is scheduled to start for Double-A Portland tonight. (I moved him back into the “active” file!)
  • You might remember Bradley Jones (Charles Town 2015) from his monster home run derby at the All-Star game in 2015, but he should also be known for being a darn good hitter in games, too. An 18th round pick in 2016, he was assigned to Low-A Lansing of the Midwest League in April. But after hitting 326/395/560 in 184 at-bats, he’s been promoted to High-A Dunedin of the Florida State League.
  • The Cardinals drafted Mike O’Reilly (Woodstock 2014) in the 27th round of the 2016 amateur draft. Today he was named a Midwest League All-Star after going 3-1, 2.08 in 39 innings. He’s given up 29 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 39. Way to go, Mike!

That’s all for now….

Minor League Record Book “Movement”

Some of you know that I spent a few weeks working on my overall list of former Valley Leaguers who have played in the major leagues, but at the same time, I was updating both the major league AND the minor league record books. And, of course, being the nerd that I am, I love to keep track of the movement throughout both the major league and minor league seasons.

So, Brilliant Reader, read on to see some movement (and some potential milestones) on the minor league record books.

  • Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) was drafted in 2002, so he’s slowly moving up in a couple categories.
    • Doubles. Erik started the year with 199, in 14th place. He now has 4 on theErik Kratz Columbus 2017 season, putting him at 203, and 11th all time. He passed Tony Thomas (Harrisonburg 2005), Ryan Shealy (Harrisonburg 1999), and Wes Timmons (Winchester 1998-99). Tenth place is held by Tommy Murphy (Staunton 1998), who finished with 205 career doubles.
    • Home runs. Erik started 2017 with 110, in 12th place. He now has 115, and is in 10th place. He passed Jack Voigt (Staunton) and Stephen Smitherman (Winchester 1998-99). Next up, in 9th place, is Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008), who has 120 dingers.
    • RBI. 440 pre-season, which was out of the top 20. Erik now has 450, which is 4 RBIs away from the player at #20- Pat Watkins (Staunton).
  • Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2005-06) is on the leader board several times as well.
    • Runs. Clint had 534 pre-2017, and was in 19th place. He now has 545, and is in 14th place. He passed Timmons, Andy Barkett (Winchester 1992), Joe Koshansky (Staunton 2002-03), Emil Brown (Waynesboro 1994), and Watkins. Clint RobinsonNext up is Kevin Reese (Winchester 1998), who has 546 career runs.
    • Hits- 1,016, 10th place pre-2017. Clint now has 1038. He’s still in 10th place, and is 22 hits away from Murphy at #9.
    • Doubles- 238 before the season, tied for 6th place (with Jon Zuber (Harrisonburg 1991). Now 242, in 6th alone, and 7 doubles away from Barkett in 5th place.
    • Home runs- 141 preseason, tied for 6th place (with Alan Cockrell (Staunton)). Now 146, alone in 6th, but only 1 home run away from 5th place (Christopher Carter (Waynesboro 2001)).
    • RBIs- 587 preseason, in 9th place. Now with 608 (milestone!), and in 6th place, after passing Carter, Shealy, and Barkett. Next is Koshansky with 658.
    • Walks- 409 preseason, tied for 18th (with Joey Butler (New Market 2006), who is still active). Now with 418, he passed Butler and Steve Decker (Front Royal). Koshansky is in 16th place with 420.
    • Batting average- .302 preseason, tied for 12th place. Now at .299, he’s dropped into a tie for 17th place.
  • Joey Butler, as mentioned above, is on the leader board or close in several categories. He has been on the disabled list for a while, so he hasn’t moved as much as Robinson.
    • Runs- 523 pre-2017, tied for 20th place (with Louie Meadows (Staunton)). Now Joey Butlerwith 524, he’s alone in 20th, and 11 runs behind Timmons in 19th.
    • Hits- 941 through 2016, 17th place. He’s now at 946 hits, still in 17th, but 7 hits behind Reese. And 54 from 1,000!
    • 2B- 177 pre-2017, 178 now, and still 14 doubles behind 20th place (Reese and Carter).
    • HR- 90, and has not hit one yet in 2017. #20, Marshall McDougall (New Market 1998), has 92.
    • RBI- 441, now has 443, 11 from #20 (Watkins).
    • Walks- 409, tied for 18th with Robinson. Now has 410, in 18th place alone, 2 walks from Decker.
  • Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010) entered 2017 with 83 home runs. He now has 89, and is only 3 behind McDougall for 20th place.
  • Sherman Johnson (Covington 2009-10) is nearing 20th place on two lists…
    • Triples. Sherman had 29 through 2016, and now has 30. This puts him 2 away from tying for 20th place.
    • Walks. He had 369 before the season, and he now has 390, which is only 5 away from 20th place!
  • Tyler White (Haymarket 2010) is our last hitter.
    • Batting average- started 2017 at .301, in 14th place. He’s dropped to .298, which puts him in a tie for 19th place.
  • Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007) is our first pitcher.
    • Wins- Scott had 52 pre-2017, with put him in a tie for 18th (with Mike Ballard (Staunton 2004)). He has 55 now, which puts him in a tie for 14th place (with Jamie Brewington (New Market 1992)). He passed Mike O’Connor (New Market 2001), Matt Fox (Staunton 2003), and Brandon Dickson (New Market 2006). There is a 4-way tie for #10 with 59 wins- that’s next for Scott.
    • Strikeouts- 529 pre-2017, now has 556. #20 on the list is Ralph Citarella (Staunton) with 654.
  • Stephen Kohlscheen (Harrisonburg 2010)
    • ERA- Stephen was at 3.21 pre-2017, and is now at 3.20. He hasn’t moved from #11. Colter Bean (Winchester 1997) is 10th, with an career ERA of 3.16.
  • Brad Mills (Harrisonburg 2005) deserves a mention here. He’s currently 8th in wins with 62, and 5th in strikeouts with 858, but he has not pitched yet in 2017 due to an injury.

Update on Major League Pitchers

About a week ago, we took a look at all major league hitters who have a background in the Valley League. Today, let’s take a look at the pitchers! (Stats through May 10)

  1. Like we start the hitters with Daniel Murphy, we start the pitchers with Chris Devenski (Woodstock 2011). Chris has been well-nigh unhittable for the Astros in 2017. He’s 2-2, 2.14, with 2 saves, 10 hits, 3 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. His WHIP is 0.619, BB/9 is 1.3, and his K/9 is an amazing 16.3. His ERA actually reflects some bad luck- Chris’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 1.68.
  2. Let’s stick with Houston’s bullpen, and turn our attention to Will Harris (Staunton 2003). Will has also been superb, as he’s 1-0, 1.17, with 1 save, 14 hits, 2 walks, and 15 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. His WHIP is 0.97, BB/9 is 0.6, and his K/9 is 7.5. No wonder the Astros are 22-11 so far!
  3. Robby Scott (Covington 2010) has pitched in 15 games for the Red Sox, but has amassed only 8 2/3 innings. He’s 0-0, 1.04, with 4 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. If he can reliably retire lefties, he may be in the show for a long time!
  4. Speaking of lefty specialists, here is Josh Edgin (Winchester 2007)! Josh’s numbers are about as good as Scott’s; he’s 0-1, 1.98, with 1 save, and a 1.02 WHIP for the Mets.
  5. Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000), pitching in his 10th major league season (this one for the Marlins), has scuffled a bit to start 2017. He’s 1-2, 4.50, with a 1.57 WHIP. Brad’s FIP is 3.51, so expect things to improve.
  6. Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012) has been in Pittsburgh’s rotation all season so far. After 7 times through the rotation, Chad is 1-3, 5.81, with a 1.61 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, and 7.3 K/9. His BB/9 is up from last year, but so is his K/9. Hopefully he gets a full year in Pittsburgh!
  7. Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008) is on the 60-day disabled list for the Red Sox. He hasn’t pitched yet this year.
  8. Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-08) has been up and down from the Dodgers a couple times this year. He’s appeared in 2 games, and has given up an earned run in 1 1/3 innings.
  9. Emilio Pagan (Harrisonburg 2010) made two appearances for the Mariners before being returned to Triple-A Tacoma. He went 0-1, 16.88 in 2 2/3 innings.
  10. Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10) appeared in only one game for the Twins before being sent back down. He threw 3 1/3 innings and gave up 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 5.
Will Harris Houston

Will Harris letting out some emotion