Gigliotti, Albanese Off to Scorching Pro Starts

Two former Valley Leaguers have had significant pro debuts, even though they were drafted in different years.

First of all, Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015) was drafted 12 days ago by the Kansas City Royals in the 4th round. He signed for a bonus of $397,500 (awesome), and was assigned to Rookie level Burlington, in the Appalachian League. Batting leadoff and playing in center field, Michael had a debut to remember on Thursday, June 22nd, when he hit two home runs (one a 2-run shot, one solo), and walked for good measure. In his second game, the next night, Michael had another hit and another walk. So after two games, he’s 3-7, with 3 runs, 3 RBIs, and 2 home runs.

Secondly, Matt Albanese (Aldie 2014) was the first Valley Leaguer drafted in 2016- in the 7th round, by the Minnesota Twins (the 2016 draft was not a good one for the VBL). He signed on June 21st, 2016, and was assigned the next day to Elizabethton, also of the Appy League. But because of a ligament tear in his wrist, he never made his pro debut.

Now, a year later and back in Elizabethton, Matt has made his debut, and what a debut it was. On Friday, June 23rd, Matt played in both games of a doubleheader, and went 4-6 with 2 runs and an RBI. The next day, he played again, and went 3-3, with 2 walks, 2 runs, and 2 RBIs. So after his first three pro games, Matt is 7-9, with 3 doubles, 4 runs, 3 RBIs, and 2 walks.

Obviously, this is just a beginning, but what a beginning it has been for these two players!


2016 Double-A Hitter of the Year

dj-hicks-chattanooga-headshot-2016Not a terrifically strong crop this year in Double-A, I must say.

However, the 2016 AA Hitter of the Year is DJ Hicks (Luray 2009), the first baseman in the Minnesota Twins system!

DJ, playing for Chattanooga in the Southern League, hit 264/348/371 in 111 games and 420 at-bats. He hit 27 doubles, 6 home runs, scored 47 runs while driving in 59, and had a 52/109 BB/K ratio.

DJ is almost an “old” hand at this minor league thing, as he was drafted in the 17th round in 2012 by the Twins. He’s had 1973 plate appearances over five different levels so far, and has a career batting line of 267/349/411. His best year was in 2013, when he played in the Midwest and Florida State Leagues, and hit 289/358/468, with 39 doubles, 17 home runs, and 110 RBIs.

Congratulations, DJ!

Past Winners:

2015- Chad Oberacker (Fauquier 2009), Midland
2014- Cory Spangenberg (Winchester 2010), San Antonio

Others to Consider:

  • Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010), Mobile- 300/354/481, 10 2B, 5 HR in 160 at-bats
  • Eric  Stamets (Haymarket 2010), Akron- 258/335/418, 17 2B, 6 HR, 8 SB in 244 AB

D.J. Hicks

Minor League Record Book: RBIs in a Season

Our next category is RBIs in one minor league season, since the 2006 draft. Pretty high numbers on this list….

1 Dalton Hicks Luray ’09 2013 110
2 Jonathan Griffin Luray ’10 2012 102
3 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2011 100
Rudy Flores Haymarket ’10 2014 100
5 Tyler White Haymarket ’10 2015 99
6 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2010 98
Mickey Wiswall Winchester ’08 2012 98
8 Rebel Ridling Covington ’06 2009 97
9 Michael Snyder Haymarket ’11 2013 92
10 Ryan McBroom Haymarket ’11-’12 2015 90

Interesting that Clint Robinson is the only repeat- 2011 and 2010. Robinson is still active, along with Dalton (known as D.J. in the Valley) Hicks, Rudy Flores, Tyler White, and Ryan McBroom.

Jonathan Griffin, Mickey Wiswall, Rebel Ridling, and Michael Snyder are all out of affiliated ball.

Robinson and White are the only major leaguers on the list. McBroom and White are the latest, joining after the 2015 season. (The ’15 season for Tyler White burst the 33rd-round draft pick onto the scene, and he made the majors after Spring Training in 2016.)

Next up- the dynamic subject of walks!

D.J. Hicks

D.J. Hicks

Rucinski, Rodriguez Signed By Minnesota

Two more minor league free agents- both former Wranglers- have signed with a new team- Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10)  and Eddy Rodriguez (Luray 2005-06). Both have signed minor league contracts with the Minnesota Twins, but have also been invited to spring training.

Rucinski pitched for Triple-A Iowa in the Cubs’ system in 2016. He spent parts of two seasons, 2014 and 2015, in the major leagues with the Los Angeles Angels.

Rodriguez played in 2 games for the Padres back in 2012 after a surprise call-up. He hit a home run in 7 plate appearances. He spent 2016 playing for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in the International League.

The Twins have also recently resigned Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008). Add in D.J. Hicks, a 2012 draft pick, who played in Luray in 2009, and the system has four former Wranglers!





Wimmers Makes Major League Debut!

Alex WimmersChalk another one up- Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008) has made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins!

A first round draft pick in 2010 (21st overall), Alex began his road to the majors in the Florida State League that June. He struggled with injuries throughout his career; Alex had Tommy John surgery in August of 2012. He was moved full time to the bullpen in 2016, when he spent time in both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester. In the minors this season, Alex went 2-2, 3.97, with 11 saves in 56 2/3 innings pitched. He gave up 52 hits, walked 25, and struck out 56.

He made his major league debut on August 26th in Toronto, pitching one clean inning. Including last night, Alex has pitched in 3 games for the Twins. He’s 0-1. 4.91, with 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

Alex joins Tyler White (Haymarket 2010), Chris Devenski (Woodstock 2011), Ashur Tolliver (Harrisonburg 2007), and Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008- Alex’s teammate back then!) as Valley League alumni making a major league debut this season.

Congratulations, Alex!

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays

More All-Stars: Meisinger, Murray, and Leftwich

Three more Valley Leaguers were named and appeared in their league’s all-star game, and then, awesomely enough, all three were moved up a level immediately after the game!

  1. Ryan Meisinger (Staunton 2014) appeared in the South Atlantic League all-star game on June 21st. He gave up a home run in his 2/3 of an inning stint in the actual all-star game (Austin Rei hit it). Ryan crushed the SAL in his time with Delmarva; he went 3-2, 0.78, with 4 saves, 24 hits, 9 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings pitched. That’s only 33 baserunners against 48 K’s. He’s been moved up to the Frederick Keys in the Carolina League, but he hasn’t appeared in a game yet.
  2. Luke Leftwich (Aldie 2013) also appeared in the SAL all-star game. He threw a shutout inning, the 3rd, for the North Division. Luke’s numbers are just as good, if not better, than Meisinger’s, although Luke put his up as a starter, unlike Ryan. Over 12 starts for Lakewood, Leftwich went 7-3, 2.00, with 55 hits, 18 walks, and 88 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings pitched. He was also named the SAL Pitcher of the Week on June 20th. Luke has been moved up to Clearwater of the Florida State League, but has not appeared in a game yet (he’s scheduled to start tonight!).
  3. AJ Murray (Harrisonburg 2012) was chosen to play in the Midwest League all-star game. He hit a home run with a man on base in the contest. Afterwards, he was called up to Fort Myers of the Florida State League. For Cedar Rapids, he hit 262/346/415 in 229 at-bats, with 15 doubles and 6 home runs. He’s 1-8 so far in the FSL.

Congratulations to all three players!







Murray Has Career Night

AJ Murray Cedar Rapids 2016Anytime a former Valley Leaguer makes headlines, we’re there!

Two nights ago, A.J. Murray (Harrisonburg 2012) unloaded for Low-A Cedar Rapids against Wisconsin, going 5-5 with 2 home runs, 5 runs scored, 5 RBIs, and a walk. Not coincidentally, Cedar Rapids won the game, 13-2.

A.J. was drafted in the 14th round in 2015 by the Minnesota Twins, and had a solid pro debut in the Appalachian League, hitting 264/366/409 in 51 games. He’s been crushing the ball lately- he’s gone 15-28 with 11 RBIs over his last 6 games. Overall, he’s now hitting 304/398/545 in 30 games, with 10 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs, and a 15/28 BB/K ratio.

Congrats on the career night, A.J.!