Povse Makes Major League Debut

Max Povse Seattle 2017It is my pleasure to announce that Max Povse (Staunton 2013) has made his major league debut for the Seattle Mariners!

Max was called up a few days ago, but finally appeared in a game last night, against the Detroit Tigers. Max gave up 3 earned runs in his 2/3 of an inning, including a home run to perhaps the best righthanded batter in the game, Miguel Cabrera. Despite this shaky start, Max has a very bright future!

Max becomes the second former Valley Leaguer to make his debut in 2017, joining fellow Mariner and former Turk Emilio Pagan (2010). By my count, Max becomes the 204th former VBLer to play in the majors.

Three Named Spring Training “Revelations”

Major league spring training will be wrapping up in a couple days, and while that means that a few Valley League alumni, like Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-05) and Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), will start off 2017 with a starting position with their respective clubs, a few more, like perhaps Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2006-07), will go north as a bench player. Others, like Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000) and Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), will be on the pitching staff of their organization.

Most alumni, though, are still plying their trade in the minor leagues. But spring training is a great chance for some of them to turn some heads, and impress those who are making the decisions.

Bleacher report has recently published an article on one player from each major league team who has been the biggest “revelation.”  Awesomely, three former Valley Leaguers have made the cut.

Here they are:

Colorado Rockies: Stephen Cardullo (Covington 2007):

Spring Stats: 44 PA, 13-for-37, 3 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R, 5/8 BB/K

 Outlook

The Colorado Rockies have been bitten hard by the injury bug this spring.

Among position players, David Dahl, Ian Desmond and Tom Murphy are all expected to begin the season on the disabled list, and that has opened the door for non-roster invitee Stephen Cardullo to win a bench job.

“You can’t say enough about how he’s hitting,” manager Bud Black told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “He’s squaring balls up against all types of pitchers and he’s playing with a great deal of intent to try and make this ballclub.”

The 29-year-old spent four seasons playing indy ball before the Rockies took a flier on him last year, and he went on to hit .308/.367/.522 with 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 72 RBI in 452 plate appearances in Triple-A.

That earned him a late-season promotion, and he posted a .665 OPS with three doubles and two home runs in 59 plate appearances in the first MLB action of his career.

Now he’ll have a chance to battle for the available playing time at first base and in left field while Desmond and Dahl are on the mend.

Kansas City Royals: Eric Stout (Waynesboro 2012):

Spring Stats: 7 G, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

 Outlook

There probably won’t be a spot for Eric Stout on the Opening Day roster.

The Kansas City Royals already have two lefties—rookie Matt Strahm and former starter Mike Minor—locked into bullpen jobs, and Scott Alexander (8 G, 8.2 IP, 1 ER) has pitched well enough to hold on to his spot from a year ago.

That leaves Stout on the outside looking in, but he’s made a terrific impression in his first big league camp with seven strong innings.

The 23-year-old posted a 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 in 42 appearances at the Double-A level last season and followed that up with a 2.77 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

He looks like the next southpaw up, at least until Brian Flynn is recovered from a fractured rib.

Seattle Mariners: Max Povse (Staunton 2013):

Spring Stats: 4 G, 10.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

 Outlook

There’s no missing Max Povse.

The 6’8″ right-hander is an imposing figure on the mound, and he turned heads this spring before being optioned to the minors last week.

The 23-year-old has made just 11 starts above the Single-A level, so a return to the minors was inevitable, but there’s little question he made a good first impression on his new club.

Povse was acquired from the Atlanta Braves along with fellow right-hander Rob Whalen this offseason in exchange for former top prospect Alex Jackson.

Now he’s squarely in the conversation along with Nick Neidert and Andrew Moore for the title of top pitching prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, and he’ll begin the season in Triple-A.

While he may not have overpowering stuff, he uses his big frame well to generate a good downward plane, and he has a solid changeup-curveball pairing to back his low-90s fastball that tops out at 94.

 

Top Minor League Starts, 2016

Just like ATVL keeps track of the top starts (by game score) in the Valley League each season, he tracks minor league starts as well. So here are the top 15 minor league starts in the 2016 season!

The line will look like this: place, name, minor league team, Valley League team, date, and then the line (IP, H, R, ER, BB, K), and then game score

T12. Chris Huffman, Lake Elsinore (Staunton 2012-13), 8/26: 6-3-0-0-0-8; 78

T12. Ryan Yarbrough, Jackson (Luray 2012), 8/3: 6-1-0-0-1-6; 78

T12. Matt Solter, Augusta (Strasburg 2012), 7/29: 7-3-0-0-1-4; 78

T12. Ryan Yarbrough, Jackson (Luray 2012), 5/23: 7-3-0-0-0-7; 78

T10. Max Povse, Carolina (Staunton 2013), 4/15: 7-2-0-0-1-7; 79

T10. Austin Gomber, Springfield (Luray 2012), 7/30: 7-1-0-0-2-3; 79

T8. Chad Kuhl, Indianapolis (New Market 2012), 5/16: 7-1-0-0-1-6; 80

T8. Luke Leftwich, Lakewood (Aldie 2013), 6/7: 8-5-0-0-0-8; 80

7. Ryan Yarbrough, Jackson (Luray 2012), 7/29: 7-3-0-0-0-5; 81

6. James Reeves, Tampa (Staunton 2013), 7/20: 7-2-0-0-1-6; 82

5. Drew Rucinski, Iowa (Luray 2009-10), 9/4: 7.2-3-1-1-1-8; 83

4. Logan Boyd, Greenville (Charles Town 2013), 7/21: 7-1-0-0-2-8; 84

3. Sam Howard, Modesto (Staunton 2012), 5/28: 8-2-0-0-3-10; 85

And the two best starts in the entire minor league season belong to….

T1. Austin Gomber, Palm Beach (Luray 2012), 7/20: 9-6-1-1-0-8; 87

T1. Max Povse, Mississippi (Staunton 2013), 8/20: 8-2-0-0-1-5; 87

Quick breakdown: 

Ryan Yarbrough appears 3 times; Max Povse and Austin Gomber appear twice.

Teams (Counting each player only once):

Staunton- 4
Luray- 3
Charles Town, New Market, Aldie and Strasburg- 1

Teammates

Chris Huffman, Max Povse and James Reeves played in Staunton in 2013
Ryan Yarbrough and Austin Gomber pitched in Luray in 2012

Max Povse

Max Povse

Austin Gomber

Austin Gomber

Povse Traded to Seattle

Max Povse Carolina 2016One of the more heralded prospects to come out of the Valley League in the last few years, Max Povse (Staunton 2013), has been traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Seattle Mariners.

A 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft, Max advanced to Double-A Mississippi in 2016. His size (he’s 6-foot-8) and stuff (he can run his fastball up to 94) make him a possibility to play in the majors soon. Max was traded along with Rob Whalen for the Mariner’s 1st round pick in 2014, Alex Jackson.

Baseball America had this to say about Max in his writeup:

His fastball sits 90-92 mph and can get up to 94 and his main secondary offerings are a solid overhand curveball and changeup with improving depth. His stuff plays up because his extension makes the ball jump on the hitter quickly, while his long limbs constantly move in his delivery to throw off hitters’ sense of timing and ability to locate the ball. As a result Povse keeps the ball on the ground and limits hard contacts, with 24 percent more groundouts than airouts in 2016 as he ascended to Double-A and only nine home runs allowed in 158 innings. As a 6-foot-8, ground-ball aficionado who throws strikes, Povse evokes comparisons to former Mariners righthander Doug Fister and could be ready to contribute in the majors as soon as 2017.

“As soon as 2017” sounds pretty good. Good luck with your new organization, Max!

Five Excellent Minor League Starts!

In case you’re wondering, brilliant reader, I am still keeping a log of every minor league start of Valley League alumni. Every once in a while, lightning strikes, and a number of awesome starts happen on the same night.

Last night was one of those nights- out of the seven total starts, five of them were well above average!

So, I need to tell you about them, don’t I?

  1. Austin Gomber (Luray 2012) threw 9 innings for High-A Palm Beach, allowing only 6 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and struck out 8. His game score is a huge 87. Almost unbelievably, though, he also lost the game, 1-0. About two weeks ago, Austin made a spot start for Double-A Springfield, and threw quite well. Overall in 2016, Austin is 6-7, 2.79, with a 1.12 WHIP, 27 walks and 97 strikeouts in 106.1 innings.
  2. James Reeves (Staunton 2013) also had a game score in the 80’s- he ended up at 82. He threw 7 shutout innings with only 2 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts for High-A Tampa. He won his game. James appeared in 4 games for Low-A Charleston, and last night was his 18th appearance for High-A Tampa. Combined, he’s 4-2, 1.74, with a 0.79 WHIP, and 22 walks and 84 strikeouts in 67.1 innings. Move him up!
  3. It was great to see Hunter Adkins (Staunton 2010) throw a super game for Double-A Jacksonville. Hunter was released by the Oakland A’s back in 2014, and he spent time in two separate Independent Leagues in 2015, before the Miami Marlins signed him in December of that year. Last night, Hunter threw 7 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 2. He got the win and a game score of 76. He’s pitched at three different levels in 2016, and has gone a combined 2-6, 6.22, with a 1.50 WHIP, 25 walks and 58 strikeouts in 68 innings.
  4. The very large Max Povse (Staunton 2013) threw an excellent game for Double-A Mississippi in the Atlanta Braves’ system last night. He allowed 5 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run against 5 strikeouts in 7 innings. He got the win and a game score of 72. Max had started 15 games for High-A Carolina, and last night was his third in Double-A. Combined, he’s 7-5, 3.66, with only 18 walks against 104 strikeouts in 105.2 innings. Only 18 walks! (Max is listed at 6-foot-8)
  5. Taylor Hill (Winchester 2008) has the last one. In 7 innings for Triple-A Syracuse, Taylor allowed 5 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and struck out 3. His game score is 64. Taylor has had cups of coffee in the majors in both 2014 and 2015, but he’s spent all of 2016 in Triple-A. For the year, he’s 4-8, 4.25, with 26 walks and 74 strikeouts in 110 innings. Since the 2006 draft, Taylor is tied for 8th with 38 career minor league wins.

All five of these starts happened last night, July 20th!

James Reeves firing a pitch for Tampa

James Reeves firing a pitch for Tampa

Huffman, Povse Appear in All-Star Game

Two nights ago, the players chosen as all-stars from both the Carolina and California Leagues came together in Lake Elsinore, California, to play their annual all-star game.

This year, two Valley Leaguers, both former Staunton Braves (and former teammates!), appeared in the game- one as the Cal League starter, and the other as a Carolina League reliever.

Chris Huffman (2012-13) started the game for the Cal League, and gave up one run in one inning of work. Chris is having a great year so far for Lake Elsinore, going 6-2, 2.10, with 46 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings pitched.

Max Povse (2013) pitched the 4th inning for the Carolina League. He also gave up a run in his one inning of work. Pitching for the Carolina Mudcats, Max is 5-4, 3.51 in 74 1/3 innings, with 76 strikeouts.

Congratulations to both players!

Huffman

Huffman

Povse

Povse

What a Night!

It’s probably not a surprise to some of you, but I take the time to check out every minor league start by a former Valley League pitcher. And I check all the major league boxscores, and I watch transactions, and… well, good enough.

Last night (Wednesday, April 20), five pitchers with ties to the Valley League made starts in the minor leagues, and in all my years of following every day, I haven’t seen a night where, as a whole, they pitched so well.

Here are the five:

  • Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), for Triple-A Indianapolis: 5 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, a win, game score of 67.
  • Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10), for Triple-A Iowa: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts, game score of 62.
  • Sam Howard (Staunton 2012), for High-A Modesto: 5 2/3 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, game score of 68.
  • Max Povse (Staunton 2013), for High-A Carolina: 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, loss, game score of 48.
  • Austin Gomber (Luray 2012), for High-A Palm Beach: 6 2/3 IP, 6 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, win, game score of 67.

Wow.

So, combined: 29 1/3 innings, 22 hits, 5 earned runs, 7 walks, 29 strikeouts, 2 wins, 1 loss, 1.54 ERA, 0.9898 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, averaged game score of 62.4.