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.

McElroy, Flores Named Hitters of the Week

Each week, milb.com names a hitter and pitcher of the week in each minor league. This week, two former Valley Leaguers were awarded the honor: Casey McElroy (Waynesboro 2009) and Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010)!

McElroy was given the award in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League after the following: .500/.484/.750, 14-for-28, 5 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI, 11 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Casey has been on a total tear- he’s had two or more hits in 9 of his last 10 games! Overall, he’s hitting 412/429/569 in 51 at-bats, along with 12 runs, 14 RBIs, 6 doubles, a triple, and a 3/9 BB/K ratio. He’s only one step away from the major leagues!

Flores won the award in the High-A  California League after hitting .375/.412/.781, 12-for-32, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Rudy is actually down one level from 2015, when he played in Double-A Mobile. But he’s sure been lighting up High-A again in 120 at-bats, putting up the slash line of 342/388/642, with 23 runs, 32 RBIs (in only 30 games!), 9 doubles, 9 home runs, and a 11/34 BB/K ratio.

Congrats to both!






Full Season A Hitter, Pitcher of the Year

I think I need to explain the title. After Triple-A and Double-A, there are full-season Single-A teams in each minor league system. The leagues are the Carolina League, California League, Florida State League, Midwest League, and South Atlantic League. These players made a minor league team out of spring training, while the rest have to wait for short season A ball to start.

Full Season A 2014 Hitter of the Year

Rudy Flores Visalia 2014This can be none other than Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010), a 21st round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012. Rudy tore up the California League in 2014, hitting 301/354/528, with 76 runs, 35 doubles, 28 home runs, and 100 RBIs. He struck out a ton, 189 times against 33 walks, but overall, Rudy is easily the hitter of the year for the level. Those power numbers are pretty awesome!

Others under consideration:

Team League G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB Avg. OBP SLG OPS
Rudy Flores Visalia California 132 525 76 158 35 0 28 100 33 189 3 0.301 0.354 0.528 0.882
Sean Buckley Dayton/Bakersfield Mid/Cal 85 323 51 89 18 0 13 59 18 84 8 0.276 0.328 0.452 0.780
S. Johnson Inland Empire California 136 529 107 146 23 13 17 78 88 104 26 0.276 0.382 0.465 0.847
Tyler White Quad Cities/Lan Mid/Cal 114 389 69 113 33 2 15 64 63 67 0 0.290 0.410 0.501 0.911

Sherman Johnson (Covington 2009-2010) is clearly in 2nd place. He had a super year, showing both power and patience in the Cal League.  Sean Buckley (Staunton 2009-2010) finally has had a close-to-full season after a number of injuries, and Tyler White (Haymarket 2010), Rudy Flores’s teammate in Northern Virginia, had a fantastic OBP after walking 63 times in 114 games.

Full Season A 2014 Pitcher of the Year

Wow, this is tough. I think I could make the case for several of these pitchers. However, due to his performance overChad Kuhl 2014 Bradenton head shot 28 starts in the tougher Florida State League, our pitcher of the year is Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012)! Drafted in the 9th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chad dutifully took the mound all season for Bradenton, and pitched excellently.

He went 13-5, 3.46, with a 2.5 BB/9, 5.9 K/9, and 1.19 WHIP in 153 1/3 innings pitched. And as this article states, Kuhl has the potential to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Pirates down the road.

Other Excellent Seasons

B. Sinnery Visalia California 14 7 4.02 28 28 0 170.3 175 92 76 44 109 2.33 5.76 1.29
Chris Devenski Lancaster California 5 5 4.11 17 11 2 76.7 70 42 35 12 77 1.41 9.04 1.07
Julio Felix West Michigan Midwest 3 2 3.38 44 0 13 77.3 70 31 29 15 71 1.75 8.27 1.10
H. Cooney Burlington Midwest 9 8 2.65 25 22 1 129.0 108 50 38 51 91 3.56 6.35 1.23
Ben Carlson Burlington Midwest 3 2 2.60 52 0 14 65.7 69 27 19 17 62 2.33 8.49 1.31
Chad Kuhl Bradenton Florida State 13 5 3.46 28 28 0 153.3 141 67 59 42 100 2.47 5.87 1.19
Chris Nunn Lake Elsinore California 4 2 4.29 49 0 0 58.7 52 31 28 25 76 3.83 11.65 1.31
Matt Brazis High Desert California 3 0 2.98 23 0 4 39.3 34 15 13 8 50 1.83 11.45 1.07
Emilio Pagan Clinton Midwest 2 3 2.89 42 0 16 56.0 43 19 18 14 62 2.25 9.96 1.02
Iden Nazario Palm Beach Florida State 5 1 2.72 39 0 4 56.3 46 18 17 24 56 3.84 8.95 1.24
Kevin Herget Peoria/Palm Beach Mid/Flor St 8 3 2.71 42 1 4 76.3 67 32 23 29 94 3.42 11.09 1.26

Brandon Sinnery (Winchester 2009), a non-drafted free agent signee, also started 28 games… Kevin Herget (Strasburg 2012), Chris Nunn (Winchester 2010) and Matt Brazis (Winchester 2009, 2011) all have a K/9 over 11.0… Harrison Cooney (Front Royal 2012) has the lowest ERA on the list… Emilio Pagan (Harrisonburg 2010) has the lowest WHIP (in 56 innings).

Minor League Record Book: Hits in a Season

The minor league season is a grind. I spoke to Erik Kratz about this years ago, and he said that during one of his minor league seasons, he was home, in his apartment, with nothing to do, for exactly FOUR days from February to September.

So it seems only fair that we celebrate those Valley Leaguers who have had outstanding minor league seasons. The list for today is hits in one minor league season. Take a look:

1 Tyler Kuhn Luray ’06-07 2011 168
2 Rebel Ridling Covington ’06 2009 166
3 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2011 164
4 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2010 160
5 Jason Kipnis Covington ’06-07 2010 159
6 Rudy Flores Haymarket ’10 2014 158
7 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2010 154
8 Jonathan Griffin Luray ’10 2012 153
9 James McOwen Luray ’05-06 2009 152
Mac Williamson Harrisonburg ’11 2013 152

Kuhn was released after a few seasons in Triple-A, as was Tyson Auer. Ridling and McOwen topped out at Double-A.

Robinson and Kipnis have played in the major leagues, and are still active.

Flores is our one 2014 performance to make the list; he did it in the High-A California League.

Griffin and Williamson are still active, too. Williamson, in fact, has been named on at least one San Francisco Giants top prospect list so far this offseason (stay tuned).

Flores Named Arizona Organization All-Star

Rudy Flores Visalia 2014Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010) is the latest Valley League alum to be named an organizational All-Star!

This is what milb.com’s Sam Dykstra wrote about the first baseman:

First baseman — Rudy Flores, Visalia (132 games):  After being taken by the D-backs in the 21st round of the 2012 Draft out of Florida International University, Flores showed nice pop in his first full season at Class A South Bend in 2013, producing an .865 OPS with 19 homers and 64 RBIs. He took his power to a new level by leading the organization in homers (28) and RBIs (100) while producing a .301/.354/.528 line for the Rawhide. He was especially good in the second half, when he had a .349/.398/.628 line with 18 homers and 57 RBIs in 67 games. His Cal League-leading 189 strikeouts could be an issue as he climbs the chain, however.

Rudy tore a hole in the Valley League when he played for Haymarket- he was incredibly difficult to get out back in 2010. Congratulations on the award, Rudy!

McQuail Hits Three Home Runs

Steve McQuail 09-03-2014 3 home runsThe name Steve McQuail should be a familiar one to Valley League fans- or at least to fans who have been around for five years or more.

Back in 2009, McQuail played for Front Royal, and put on an amazing display of power throughout the summer, ending up with 16 home runs in 42 games (along with 14 doubles), and even winning the home run derby, held that year at Woodstock. Baseball America named him the 5th best prospect in the league, and ATVL named him the top hitter.

Steve was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 30th round of the 2010 draft, but they released him after two seasons in short season ball.

But he didn’t give up. Steve played in the Frontier League in both 2012 and 2013, and then was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. He’s played in Low-A South Bend, Triple-A Reno, and High-A Visalia this year. Combined in the three stops, he hit 253/308/487 in 304 at-bats.

The big news, however, is what he did on Wednesday, in game one of the California League playoffs. Steve unloaded on Stockton, going 4-5, with 3 home runs and 5 RBIs.

Visalia won easily, 13-3, thanks to McQuail and a couple other former Valley Leaguers- Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010) drove in 4 runs with a double and home run, and Brandon Sinnery (Winchester 2009) earned the win with 6 solid innings pitched.

Way to go, Steve and the Valley League!

The Curious Case of Rudy Flores

Rudy Flores Visalia 2014 rounding 3rdNow that Rudy Flores (Haymarket 2010) is hitting an even .300, the time has come to take a look at his curious statistical profile.

First of all, when Rudy played in the Valley, he was clearly one of the best players in the league. He didn’t get enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title (and subsequently my top hitters list), but the at-bats he did get were nothing but impressive. Baseball America named him the 5th best prospect in the league after the season. I remember seeing him crush a fastball at Harrisonburg- the ball was gone in what seemed like a second and a half.

Rudy was drafted out of Florida International in the 21st round in 2012 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. They assigned him to the rookie level Arizona League, where Flores got only 10 at-bats, before moving to the Pioneer League, which was much closer to his ability (and age). Combined over the two levels, Flores hit 302/388/430 in 49 games and 179 at-bats, with 12 doubles and 3 home runs. His numbers were strong across the board, besides one curious thing: he struck out 52 times in those 179 at-bats, while walking only 22 times. The strikeout rate of 29% was high, but he still produced, obviously, with his other rate stats.

In 2013, Rudy was assigned to South Bend in the Midwest League. In 92 games and 343 at-bats, he hit 274/337/528, with 24 doubles, 3 triples, and 19 home runs. The good news is that his slugging percentage spiked almost 100 points from his first season. The bad news? Well, he struck out 134 times against 31 walks. So while his power went up, so did his strikeout rate- to 39%.

So now, 2014. Flores was assigned to Visalia, in the California League. The Cal League is well known as a hitter’s paradise, so I was hoping for a breakout for young Rudy. Let’s see what has happened so far:

In April, Rudy got off to a bit of a slow start, hitting 260/321/460 in exactly 100 at-bats. He hit 5 doubles and 5 home runs. Ah, but what about that other, curious stat? Rudy struck out 40 times, while getting a free pass only 5 times. (That’s a strikeout rate of 40%.)

May? Rudy dropped a bit from April, hitting 211/263/321 in 109 at-bats, with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, and a 6/37 BB/K ratio. His K rate went “down” to 34%, but his rate stats bottomed out. At this point, I was wondering if the breakout would come.

And then came June. Rudy’s batting average went way, way up, along with his other rate stats- he hit 333/367/589 in 90 at-bats. He hit 14 doubles, 3 home runs, and his BB/K ratio was 4/33. (37% K rate) So, it can’t get much better than this, right? Hang on—

July. 381/434/703 in 28 games and 118 at-bats. That incredible slugging percentage came from 8 doubles and 10 home runs. What about that BB/K ratio? It was 10/41, which comes to a 35% K rate. He improved for the second month is a row.

In August so far, Rudy is 4-10 after 3 games, with 2 more home runs, and 3 more strikeouts.

Deep breath. Let’s put it all together, shall we? For the season thus far, Rudy is hitting 300/350/532 in 107 games and 427 at-bats. He has 30 doubles, 23 home runs, and a 25/154 BB/K ratio (36% K rate). He is already tied for the 5th most home runs in a minor league season (since 2006), and still has almost a month to go.

Conventional wisdom would say that Rudy really needs to cut down on his strikeouts to be a successful hitter at higher levels in the minors, and that we should be careful making broad assumptions based on one season in the Cal League. But, as my more positive side would attest, it’s surely better to hit well than poorly, right? Joey Gallo cut down on his strikeouts, so why can’t Rudy?

At any rate, ATVL will be following Rudy’s career to the end…