The Top Hitters of 2017, An Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, we are just about to start the list of the top hitters in the Valley League in the 2017 season!

First of all, let’s talk about some parameters.

The first qualification is that each of these hitters has to be eligible for the batting title, which comes out to 2.7 plate appearances per team game. Harrisonburg’s Tony Beam and Waynesboro’s Malik Stephens, for example, had very good seasons in the Valley, but they did not reach the threshold.

Another thing to keep in mind: I am not making predictions about the future with any of these players. Why not? Because I DON’T KNOW. I AM NOT A SCOUT. I can’t tell you who has the smoothest swing or the fastest batspeed, or who is a lock to get drafted next June. I am going off of statistics only. I’ve been asked in the past, “Wouldn’t a list of the best hitters be better than just looking at the stats?” Yes, it would (I think). But I can’t do that, so I do what I am able. (Besides, Baseball America does the other kind of list, and lots of people are frustrated with them, too, because the “big names” get more attention than others, who might be performing better.)

With that said, I have had to parse some differences between players, as you might imagine. If I decided on just OPS (on-base plus slugging), then my list would be no different than what you could sort on the Valley League stat page. I try to use the whole package to rank the players. So I use batting average (the horror!), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and even counting numbers to determine where a player has landed. (So if a player didn’t play as much as someone else, that would matter to a certain extent.)

Also keep in mind that I do this to celebrate players, not to denigrate anyone else. These players are amateurs, and I have no interest in putting any of them down for whatever reason. This space is to celebrate the accomplishments of these young men.

Remember that this list is only one person’s opinion. You may rank your favorite player much higher than I have, and that’s fine. You may comment about your displeasure, of course (free country), but again, I will not denigrate a player in this space. If you would like to have a private discussion in my email or inbox about my reasons for picking one player over another, that’s cool. Do remember, though, that I have spent quite a bit of time ordering these lists. I’m satisfied with how they look.

Is all that clear?

So. I have listed who I believe are the top 16 hitters in the 2017 season (I couldn’t decide between the last two, so I decided to include them both). I will count them down from #15B all the way to #1, one at a time, over the next few weeks. After that, I will turn my attention to starting pitchers, and then to relievers.

Here are the hitters who were close to making the list, but fell just short (in alphabetical order):

  • Ty Andrus, Harisonburg: 348/413/374 in 155 at-bats, 54 hits, 29 runs, 11 RBIs, 2 triples, 17/9 BB/K, 10 SB
  • Zac Evers, Waynesboro: 283/366/520 in 127 at-bats, 24 runs, 19 RBIs, 8 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs, 15/39 BB/K, 17 SB
  • Jacob Hirsh, Strasburg: 318/431/449 in 107 at-bats, 30 runs, 14 RBIs, 3 doubles, 1 triples, 3 home runs, 18/21 BB/K, 10 SB
  • Jake Perry, Strasburg: 313/413/481 in 131 at-bats, 21 runs, 18 RBIs, 13 doubles, 3 home runs, 21/42 BB/K
  • Rick Spiers, Charlottesville: 333/391/487 in 117 at-bats, 28 runs, 19 RBIs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs, 10/24 BB/K, 8 SB
  • Chase Suddeth, New Market: 324/424/456 in 136 at-bats, 30 runs, 25 RBIs, 10 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs, 22/20 BB/K, 9 SB

Results from Tuesday July 18


Covington at Winchester PPD
Woodstock 4, Waynesboro 3
Staunton 4, Strasburg 3 (10 innings)
New Market 16, Purcellville 4
Charlottesville 7, Front Royal 1

Hitter of the Day

Jacob Rhinesmith Indian Hills CC 2017This guy is on a tear. New Market’s Jacob Rhinesmith, from Indian Hills CC, went 3-6 last night, with 2 runs, 3 RBIs, double, home run, and stolen base. He is an insane 12-17 in his last 3 games, and is slashing 365/430/552 in 96 at-bats this summer. He is very quickly rising to join the best hitters in the league.

Others of Note

Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 3-5, run, 2 RBIs
Turner Buis, Strasburg: 2-4, run, BB, SB
Simon Landry, Strasburg: 2-5, run, 2 2B
Jake Washer, New Market: 2-4, 3 runs
Alec Aleywine, New Market: 3-4, 3 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 BB, 2B
Chase Sudduth, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, BB, 2 2B
Michael Neustifter, New Market: 1-3, 3 RBIs, SF
Nolan Ritchie, Purcellville: 2-5, run, 2 2B, RBI
Trevin Esquerra, Purcellville: 2-3, RBI, BB, 2B, SF
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: 4-5, run, RBI
Rick Spiers, Charlottesville: 3-5, run, SB

Pitcher of the Day

A Tom Sox hurler grabbed this one- it’s Wake Forest’s Drew Loepprich, who threw 5Drew Loepprich Wake Forest 2017 shutout innings in relief last night, while allowing 1 hit, 0 walks, and striking out 2. He’s an amazing 3-0, 0.46 in 19 1/3 innings, with 12 hits allowed, 0 walks, and 17 strikeouts. ZERO WALKS. There is so much fun stuff going on this year…..

Others of Note

Jonathon Murphy, Woodstock: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s, win
Nick Fuchs, Woodstock: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K’s
Dean Stramara, Staunton: 3 Ip, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s, win
Derek Duffy, Staunton: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K’s
Dylan Hall, Strasburg: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 Bb, 6 K’s

Wednesday’s Games

Charlottesville at Front Royal 1 PM
Charlottesville at Winchester 7 PM
Waynesboro at Purcellville
Harrisonburg at Woodstock
Strasburg at New Market
Covington at Staunton

The Chase for .400


Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: 4-5, now at .421
Dominic Canzone, Front Royal: DNP, .404 (Rumor has it Dominic has left for the summer)
McClain Bradley, Waynesboro: 1-5, now at .389
Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 3-5, now .381

Results from Saturday July 15

Just a heads up here; I have been at Red Wings Music Festival all weekend, so I’m a little behind on some of the stuff going on in the league.

For example, a former VBLer made his major league debut last night. Do you know who? Another former VBLer was traded…. the Valley League also sent a team to the Southern Collegiate Showcase, and won their first game yesterday. I hope to get to all of these in the next day or two.

Move on to the scores from last night….


Purcellville 7, Front Royal
Harrisonburg 7, Waynesboro 3
Staunton 8, Charlottesville 4
New Market 11, Strasburg 5
Winchester 5, Woodstock 3

Hitter of the Day

Jacob Rhinesmith Indian Hills CC 2017This is the easiest call I’ve ever made for this award- the HOD from last night is New Market’s Jacob Rhinesmith, from Indian Hills Community College! Jacob went an incredible 6-6, with 3 runs, 6 RBIs, and 2 doubles. He is now hitting 341/417/506 in 85 at-bats this summer. He average went up 50 points, OBP 39, and slugging 63 points in just one night! Anyway, this is the best night I can remember seeing in the last number of years.

Others of Note

Gabriel Castillo, Purcellville: 2-2, 2 runs, 2 BB, HBP, SB
Onassis Matos, Purcellville: 2-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, BB, 2B
Dylan Hardy, Front Royal: 2-4, run, BB
Jordan Greene, Front Royal: 2-4, BB
Austin Embler, Harrisonburg: 3-5, run, RBI
Elliott Cary, Harrisonburg: 2-4, 2 runs, BB, 2B
Dakota Robbins, Waynesboro: 2-3, run, BB
Eric Jones, Charlottesville: 2-3, 3 RBIs, 2B, SF
Hunter Lipscomb, New Market: 2-4, 2 runs, 2 BB
Alec Aleywine, New Market: 2-4, 2 runs, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Pablo Cabrera, New Market: 2-5, run, RBI, BB, 2B
Luke Johnson, New Market: 2-4, BB
Turner Buis, Strasburg: 3-4, RBI, BB
Alex Reynolds, Winchester: 2-4, run, BB, SB

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Harrisonburg’s Jacob Ramos, from Shorter University, who threw 3 shutout Jacob Ramos Shorter U 2017innings last night, along with 2 hits allowed, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Jacob, who threw in Front Royal last summer and was one of the league’s best relievers, is now 1-2, 4.26, with 30 K’s in 19 innings pitched so far this summer.

Others of Note

Andrue Hughart, Purcellville: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K’s (56)
Drew Loepprich, Charlottesville: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K’s
Daniel Collins, Winchester: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K’s, win (55)

Sunday’s Games

Staunton at Covington
Charlottesville at Waynesboro
Front Royal at Winchester
Strasburg at Woodstock
New Market at Harrisonburg

Chase for .400

Dominic Canzone, Front Royal: DNP, .404
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: DNP, .398
McClain Bradley, Waynesboro: 2-5, .395
Tony Beam. Harrisonburg: DNP, .375
Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 1-4, .370

Results from Monday, July 10

Woooooow. Two games on the slate last night, and about a million runs were scored. 51 runs!


New Market 14, Waynesboro 5
Strasburg 18, Front Royal 14

Hitter of the Day

Chase Sudduth New Market 2017Our HOD is New Market’s Chase Sudduth, from Gordon State College! Chase went 3-4, with 4 runs, 2 RBIs, a walk, 2 doubles, and a home run. He is crushing this summer; he’s slashing 373/445/520 in 102 at-bats, along with 7 doubles and a 12/12 BB/K ratio. Chase is planning to join our POD in North Georgia this fall.

Others of Note

Nick Barber, New Market: 2-5, 3 runs, RBI
Jake Washer, New Market: 2-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, BB, 2B
Michael Neustifter, New Market: 3-5, run, RBI, 2B
Conner Corbitt, New Market: 3-4, run, RBI, 2B
Malik Stephens, Waynesboro: 4-5, 2B, 2 SB (Malik sat down the row from me at the All-Star game)
Grant Suponchick, Waynesboro: 0-1, run, 4 BB
Dominic Canzone, Front Royal: 2-6, run, 4 RBIs, HR
Luc Lipcius, Front Royal: 3-5, 3 runs, RBI, 2 2B, HBP
Jared McDonald, Front Royal: 2-4, 2 runs, 4 RBIs, HR
Dylan Hardy, Front Royal: 2-6, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B, 2 SB
Jeffrey Butler, Strasburg: 3-3, 3 runs, SB
Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg: 2-5, run, 4 RBIs, 2B, HR
Jake Perry, Strasburg: 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs
Jacob Hirsh, Strasburg: 3-4, 2 runs, BB, 2B, SF
Marquise Lanier, Strasburg: 2-4, 2 runs, 5 RBIs, 2B, HR

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Kyle Luigs, also from New Market and North Georgia. Kyle threw 5 innings Kyle Luigs North Georgia 2017against Waynesboro, allowing 4 hits, 1 earned run, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Kyle is now 1-2, 2.41 in 22 1/3 innings this summer.

Others of Note

Ryan Anderson, Strasburg: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K’s
Chandler Raiden, New Market: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s

Tuesday’s Games

Strasburg at Covington
Waynesboro at Winchester
Purcellville at Front Royal
Charlottesville at Staunton
New Market at Harrisonburg

Results from Saturday July 8

For the first time in almost a week, five games were played last night!


Purcellville 5, Winchester 3
Covington 8, Harrisonburg 3
Staunton 5, Woodstock 2
New Market 4, Front Royal 1
Charlottesville 8, Waynesboro 2

Hitter of the Day

Michael Wielansky Wooster 2017It’s hard to believe that this young man has not won a HOD up to this point, but that has now been remedied. Our HOD is Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky, from Wooster! Michael went 2-4, with 2 RBIs, a walk, and 2 doubles. He’s hitting 391/452/555 overall, with 12 doubles, 3 triples, 9 stolen bases, and a 13/12 BB/K ratio. Michael will be in the all-star game this afternoon, obviously.

Others of Note

Trevin Esquerra, Purcellville: 2-4, run, RBI, HR
Kyle Oullette, Purcellville: 2-4, run, 2 RBIs, HR
Elliott Cary, Harrisonburg: 2-3, BB, HBP, SB
Nicolas Lares, Covington: 2-2, run, 2 RBIs, BB
Joseph Strange, Covington: 2-3, run, RBI, BB, 2B
Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 4-5, SB
Troy Merriman, Woodstock: 2-3, BB
Richard Miller, Staunton: 2-3, 2 runs, BB, 2 SB
James Cosentino, Waynesboro: 3-5, run, 3B, SB
Bryce Windham, Charlottesville: 2-4, run, 3 RBIs, BB, 3B
Michael DeRenzi, Charlottesville: 2-4, 2 runs, RBI, 2B

Pitcher of the Day

For the second time, the POD is New Market’s Alec Aleywine, from Gulf Coast CommunityAlec Aleywine Gulf Coast CC College! Alec earned a game score of 71 over 7 solid innings, while allowing 3 hits, 1 unearned run, 1 walk, and striking out 3. He also earned the win. Alec is now 4-0, 2.32, with 20 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched. (He’s also hitting 330/420/477 in 103 at-bats!) Alec will also be in the all-star game today.

Others of Note

Sean Gabel, Purcellville: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s, win (57)
AJ Stead, Staunton: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K’s, win (68)

Today’s Game

The All-Star game, held in Harrisonburg. 60-yard dash at 4:50, home run derby at 5:20, first pitch at 7:30. Be there! (I will be- I’ll most probably be wearing a bright red Phillies shirt. Stop by and say hello!)

Want to Know Where Current Pro Players Are From?

What a terrible title, but we’re going with it.

I’ve started working on a new project, one I should finish this weekend- I’m listing all pro players, both current and “retired,” by Valley League team (and within that, by season).

It’s always been fascinating to me to have this conversation- which teams have the most pro players? I was having a conversation with Staunton’s Steve Cox about a week ago, and I mentioned the 2006 New Market Rebels- the team that went 32-10 in the regular season. Right away, we were naming players from that squad- Joey Butler, Brandon Dickson, Gerard Haran….

So I was able to enter the current pro players yesterday, and I noticed something- some teams have tons of alumni playing, while others….. do….. not.

So I had to count them, of course. Ready? (By the way, I did not count Indy Ball players, OR foreign players)

  1. Harrisonburg Turks- 34
  2. Staunton Braves- 24
  3. Front Royal Cardinals- 19 (Hunter Newman was just released- bummer)
  4. Purcellville/Charles Town Cannons- 16
  5. Waynesboro Generals- 15
  6. Luray Wranglers and Winchester Royals- 14
  7. Haymarket/Aldie Senators- 12
  8. Covington Lumberjacks and Woodstock River Bandits- 10
  9. New Market Rebels and Strasburg Express- 8
  10. Charlottesville Tom Sox- 4

A couple thoughts here. First, Strasburg came into existence in 2011, and Charlottesville in 2015. Their numbers are smaller, most probably, for that reason.

Not to be too critical, but the number from New Market, Covington, and Woodstock is a little bit shocking. When you see Haymarket/Aldie with more even though the team folded after 2015….

And Luray still has 15 active, even though they were sold and moved after the 2012 season.

Of course, this can change very quickly- in fact, any of these teams could have free agents signed at any time.

Thoughts? Get a thread going!

Results from Saturday, July 1


Woodstock 7, Purcellville 2
Harrisonburg 3, Staunton 1
Charlottesville 9, Covington 0
New Market 11, Strasburg 3
Waynesboro 9, Front Royal 8 (GEnerals scored 2 in the 8th and 6 in the 9th to win this one)

Hitter of the Day

Nick Barber ECU 2017Our hitter of the day is New Market’s Nick Barber, from East Carolina! Nick went 3-4, with 3 runs, an RBI, walk, home run, and a stolen base against Strasburg. He’s now hitting 325/419/481 in 77 at-bats, and has hit in 9 straight games.

Others of Note

Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 3-5, run, 2 RBIs, 3B
Ty Andrus, Harrisonburg: 3-5, run, RBI
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-4, run, RBI, 2B, HR
Joseph Bellini, Waynesboro: 2-3, run, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 2B
Dylan Hardy, Front Royal: 2-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B
Philip Madonna, Strasburg: 2-3, BB
Michael Neustifter, New Market: 3-4, 3 runs, RBI, HR, SB
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 2-3, 3 RBIs, 2 BB
McClain Bradley, Waynesboro: 2-4, 2 runs, BB, 2B, 2 SB
Eric Jones, Charlottesville: 2-3, run, 4 RBIs, BB, 2 2B
Carson Spiers, Charlottesville: 1-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, BB

Pitcher of the Day

It’s Nick Fuchs, from Woodstock and Gannon, who threw the best start of the year so far Nick Fuchs Gannon 2017last night! Nick earned a game score of 83 with this line: 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 4 walks, and 11 strikeouts. He earned the win and a game score of 107. The next closest game score this summer has been a 76. Nick is now 3-1, 1.27, with 30 K’s in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Others of Note

Zachary Burch, Purcellville: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K’s (in relief)
Grant Stewart, Harrisonburg: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K’s (59)
Davis Kirkpatrick, Harrisonburg: 4 Ip, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K’s, win in relief
Derek Duffy, Staunton: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K’s (58)
Andrew Mahoney, Waynesboro: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K’s, win in relief
Mark Moclair, Front Royal: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K’s (73) (Enough to win most days)
Michael Dailey, Charlottesville: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K’s, win (66)
Preston Betz, Charlottesville: 3 Ip, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K’s

Sunday’s Games

Waynesboro at Covington
Staunton at Charlottesville
Woodstock at Strasburg
Winchester at Harrisonburg
Front Royal at New Market