League Record Book: Wins

Yeah, I know, wins as a counting stat is pretty flawed. Way too much depends on run support, etc etc, but that doesn’t mean that ATVL doesn’t pay attention.

Here is the list of the pitchers with the most wins from the time period of 2004-2017:

1 Dustin Umberger Luray 2007 9
2 Clarence Nicely Covington 2005 7
Robert Gilliam Luray 2007 7
Jon Dages Waynesboro 2007 7
Andy Altemus Waynesboro 2008 7
Taylor Sandefur Waynesboro 2010 7
Matt Benedict Haymarket 2010 7
Greg Welsh Winchester 2011 7
Jonathan Armold Front Royal 2011 7
Dillon Ortman Harrisonburg 2012 7
Thomas Sutera Purcellville 2017 7

Dustin Umberger leads the charge with 9 wins on a 26-18 Luray Wranglers club back in 2007. He got the win in 35% of the Wranglers’ team wins that season!

Thomas Sutera slipped onto this list right at the end; interestingly, all his wins came in relief.

Major leagues: none
Current minor leagues: none
Previous minor leagues: Dustin Umberger, Robert Gilliam, Andy Altemus, Matt Benedict, Jonathan Armold, Dillon Ortman
No pro ball: Clarence Nicely, Jon Dages, Taylor Sandefur, Greg Welsh
Still in college: Thomas Sutera

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Valley Leaguers in the Playoffs

In 2015, Daniel Murphy, at 30 years old, reached the first postseason of his career. He proceeded to go off, hitting 7 home runs in his first 9 playoff games, until he cooled off in the World Series against the Royals. He exploded with a stretch of power that he had not really shown in his career to that point. I just could hardly believe it as I posted video after video of Murph going deep. It was quite a bit of fun, to say the least.

So we have to ask the question: Who might be Daniel Murphy this year? (Besides Daniel himself, obviously!)

Here are the players you can catch while watching the major league playoffs, starting Tuesday night!

  • Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (New Market 2003-4): Brett played in 151 games for the wild-card winning Yanks, hitting 264/350/428, and setting career highs in hits, home runs, and slugging percentage. He’ll most likely be starting in left field Tuesday night against Minnesota.
  • Erik Kratz, Yankees (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001): Erik was sold from the Cleveland Indians to the Yankees on August 31st. He appeared in 4 games, and appeared at bat twice (and got a hit both times). I don’t think that Erik will be on the postseason roster, but you may catch a glimpse of him in the dugout….
  • Robby Scott, Boston Red Sox (Covington 2010): Robby is probably a long shot to make the postseason roster, but he did appear in 56 games during the season, going 2-1, 3.93, and holding lefties to a 129/236/323 slash line in 62 at-bats. He may be a lefty out of the pen to get one out at some point….
  • Will Harris, Houston Astros (Staunton 2003): Will has been on the disabled list some this year, but I believe he’s healthy now. He went 3-2, 3.05 in 44 1/3 innings, along with 51 strikeouts and a 0.97 WHIP.
  • Chris Devenski, Astros (Woodstock 2011): The Dragon will most assuredly get some crucial innings for the Astros. He went 8-5, 2.68 in 80 2/3 innings, struck out exactly 100 batters, and had a 0.94 WHIP in the regular season.
  • Tyler White, Astros (Haymarket 2010): This one will be fascinating. Tyler has very quietly raked since he returned to the Astros September 2nd. He hit 298/349/561 in 57 at-bats, good for a 149 OPS+. Will he be a bat off the bench?
  • Jon Jay, Chicago Cubs (Staunton 2004): Jay played in 140 games for the Cubbies, putting up a slash line of 297/376/377. He’ll see important time in the playoffs.
  • Tommy La Stella, Cubs (Haymarket 2009): I am expecting La Stella to be an important lefthanded bat off the bench for the defending champs. In 123 at-bats, he hit 293/395/480.
  • Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07): Jason has had what must have been a frustrating season because of injuries. He is supposed healthy now, though, and the Indians have played him in center field some in the last few weeks to get his bat in the lineup. Will he start in center in the playoffs? Jason hit 234/291/416 in 334 at-bats during the regular season.
  • Adam Liberatore, Los Angeles Dodgers (Waynesboro 2007-08): Adam has also struggled with injuries this season. He pitched in only 4 games for the Dodgers; therefore, I would not expect him to be active in the postseason.
  • Austin Adams, Washington Nationals (Staunton 2011): Austin made his MLB debut for the Nats on July 15th. He pitched in 5 games and struck out 7 batters in 4 innings, but he also walked 6. I doubt he’ll be on the postseason roster.
  • Daniel Murphy, Nats (Luray 2006): Daniel has put in another awesome campaign. In 143 games and 531 at-bats, he has scored 93 runs, hit 43 doubles (leading the league), 23 home runs, and driven in 93 runs. He has a 136 OPS+. He will be starting at second base as long as the Nationals are alive.
Daniel Murphy plyoff home run

Murphy with a playoff home run for the Mets in 2015

Gomber Named August Pitcher of the Month

 

Austin Gomber Springfield 2017Milb.com has released its August players of the month, and our very own Austin Gomber (Luray 2012) is the Texas League pitcher of the month!

The article included this writeup about Austin:

Springfield Cardinals (Cardinals) left-hander Austin Gomber was 5-0 with a 0.91 ERA in six August starts. Gomber led the Texas league in WHIP (0.76), batting average against (.134) and ERA, while finishing second in strikeouts (44). He did not allow more than two runs in any of his six starts. Gomber, 23, was selected by St. Louis in the fourth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Florida Atlantic University.

Pretty awesome month. Overall, Austin has gone 10-7, 3.34 in 26 games started in 2017. He’s allowed 116 hits, 51 walks, and struck out 140 in 143 innings pitched. That leaves him with a 1.17 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and 8.8 K/9. All this is Double-A- two levels from the majors, but only one phone call. (I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet pretty heavily on Austin making the major leagues at some point.)

Congrats, Austin!

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Erik Kratz Sold to Yankees

The Cleveland Indians have sold Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) to the New York Yankees.
 
Big Erik was having quite a good year for Triple-A Columbus, not only hitting a bit, but throwing out 37% of runners attempting to steal, and also framing well.
 
Erik has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre for the time being, but the thought is that he will join the big league club when/if Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are suspended for their roles in the brawl with Detroit.
 
Oddly, Erik joins another catcher in Scranton with ties to theValley League. One of the other backstops is none other than Eddy Rodriguez, who played in Luray in 2005 and 2006. (And gave my daughter a baseball in New Market in 2006, in the process becoming her favorite player.)
 
If Erik is called up, he will also join another former Valley Leaguer- Brett Gardner, who played in New Market in 2003 and 2004.
 
(Erik is also a friend of ATVL, for full disclosure. He did a huge interview with this page back in 2006- you can read them here and here)
(Also see more on this deal here)
Erik Kratz throwing

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.

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….