A Retrospective Look at VBL Prospects

Each year, ATVL posts updates on top prospects, originally from the Valley League, from different outlets. Baseball Prospectus, one of those outlets, has made all its old lists available, so ATVL was able to compile a list of all alumni who have been mentioned since 2007.

It’s a fascinating list. Of course, many players are mentioned more than once, but take a look at this blast from the past!

2016

Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), Seattle #5 (Before he was traded to Tampa Bay)
Max Povse (Staunton 2013), Seattle #4

2015

Kaleb Fleck (Waynesboro 2008,10), Arizona #10
Jake Johansen (Front Royal 2011), Washington #8

2014

Tommy LaStella (Haymarket 2009), Atlanta #6
Jake Johansen (Front Royal 2011), Washington #5

2013

Eric Stamets (Haymarket 2010), Los Angeles Angels #10
Tommy LaStella (Haymarket 2009), Atlanta #9
Mac Williamson (Harrisonburg 2011), San Francisco #7
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), Milwaukee #2
Cory Spangenberg (Winchester 2010), San Diego #10

2012

Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008), Minnesota #7
Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005), Oakland #9
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), Milwaukee #4
Cory Spangenberg (Winchester 2010), San Diego #4
Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #17
Kevin Munson (Covington 2008), Arizona #18
Scott Cousins (Harrisonburg 2005), Miami #16
Blake Tekotte (Woodstock 2006), San Diego #15

2011

Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), Cleveland #1
Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008), Minnesota #8
Brandon Beachy (Woodstock 2008), Atlanta #10
Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006), Cincinnati #6
Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #13
Blake Tekotte (Woodstock 2006), San Diego #20
Scott Cousins (Harrisonburg 2005), Miami #11
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), Milwaukee #15

2010

Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), Cleveland #8
Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #8
Tommy Manzella (Waynesboro 2003), Houston #7
Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006), Cincinnati #4
Brad Mills (Harrisonburg 2005), Toronto #14
Jon Jay (Staunton 2004), St.Louis #12

2009

Carlos Gutierrez (Luray 2007), Minnesota #9
Brad Mills (Harrisonburg 2005), Toronto #6
Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), St. Louis #3
Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006), Cincinnati #1
Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005), Arizona #9
Jon Jay (Staunton 2004), St.Louis “just missed”

2008

Jack Egbert (Winchester 2003), Chicago White Sox #7
Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), St. Louis #2
Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-05), New York Mets #9
Tony Thomas (Harrisonburg 2005), Chicago Cubs #10
Tommy Manzella (Waynesboro 2003), Houston “just missing”

2007

Kevin Kouzmanoff (Winchester 2002), San Diego #1
Chris Perez (Staunton 2004), St. Louis #6
Joe Koshansky (Staunton 2002-03), Colorado #10

2016 Double-A Pitcher of the Year

Ryan YarbroughWhile only 3 batters were considered for the hitters’ award at Double-A, many, many pitchers were excellent at this level in 2016.

The best, though, was no doubt Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), who made 25 starts for Double-A Jackson in Seattle’s system. Traded to Tampa Bay in the offseason, Ryan finished 12-4, 2.95, with a 1.11 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and 6.9 K/9 in 128 1/3 innings pitched. Ryan was a 4th round draft pick in 2014, and has been shooting up the ladder towards the majors. In 2014, when Ryan was also the short-season A pitcher of the year, he went 0-1, 1.40, with 58 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings pitched. In 2015, over 3 levels, Ryan went 4-8, 4.10, with 88 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings.

I would cautiously hold forth the idea that Ryan has a chance to pitch in the Rays’ rotation as early as this coming month. At any rate, congratulations on your excellent season, Ryan!

Past Winners:

2015- Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), Altoona
2014- Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10), Arkansas

Others to Consider (say hello to all the Turks and Braves…):

  • Austin Adams (Staunton 2011), Arkansas- 0-1, 3.05, 4 svs, 13.3 K/9 (and 5.2 BB/9) in 41 1/3 IP
  • Rayan Gonzalez (Harisonburg 2009), Hartford- 2-2, 3.12, 8.5 K/9 in 52 IP
  • Brian Holmes (Harrisonburg 2010), Corpus Christi- 4-2, 3.73, 9.1 K/9 in 50 2/3 IP
  • Emilio Pagan (Harrisonburg 2010), Jackson- 4-1, 1.17, 9 svs, 13.2 K/9 in 30 2/3 IP
  • Trey Cochran-Gill (Harrisonburg 2012), Midland- 4-5, 3.07, 7.1 K/9 in 73 1/3 IP
  • Kyle McGrath (Staunton 2011), San Antonio- 1-2, 1.29, 1.5 BB/9, 9.2 K/9 in 48 2/3 IP
  • Max Povse (Staunton 2013), Mississippi- 4-1, 2.93, 1.5 BB/9, 6.1 K/9 in 70 2/3 IP
ryan-yarbrough-2016-jackson-pitching

Yarbrough doin’ his thing

Yarbrough Traded to Tampa Bay

Ryan YarbroughThe Seattle Mariners included former Valley Leaguer Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012) in a four-player trade for lefthander Drew Smyly yesterday.

Yarbrough, originally the Mariners’ #13 prospect according to mlb.com, threw very well for Double-A Jackson in the Southern League in 2016. He went 12-4, 2.95 in 25 starts, along with a 1.11 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and 6.9 K/9 in 128 1/3 innings pitched. He has already been shifted to the Rays’ system on mlb.com, and is listed at #16. His future looks like either a middle-of-the-rotation starter, or a lefty reliever.

Good luck in your new system, Ryan!

Organization All-Stars! Here They Are!

Every year, much to ATVL’s delight, milb.com names the players who performed best at each position in each major league organization’s minor league system (that was a mouthful). They call them “Organization All-Stars.”

The reason I appreciate this series is that they name the player with the best stats, not the player with the best pedigree or best major league profile. So, of course, I scour the lists each year to find the former Valley Leaguers. This year, seven alumni were named: three relief pitchers, two left handed starters, an outfielder, and a utility player.

Ready? Let’s take a gander at the players and milb’s writeups on said players….

BaltimoreRyan Meisinger (Staunton 2014), relief pitcher.

Meisinger was a force out of the bullpen, often pitching two Ryan Meisinger All-Star game 2016or even three innings at a time. The 22-year-old right-hander rang up 94 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .212 batting average. Meisinger’s 1.57 ERA between the two levels dropped his career mark over two seasons to 1.65.

ColoradoStephen Cardullo (Covington 2007), outfielder, who made his major league debut in 2016.

As unlikely an Organization All-Star as any, Cardullo Cardullomade the Majors in 2016 after never having played above the Rookie level in affiliated ball. Discovered by the Rockies in an independent league, Cardullo handled the outfield and a late-season transition to first base, hitting .308/.367/.522 for the Isotopes. The Florida State product and former D-backs draftee made his Major League debut on Aug. 27 and hit his first big league homer four days later — on his 29th birthday.

MilwaukeeStephen Kohlscheen (Harrisonburg 2010), relief pitcher. (I love that he was a free agent pickup by the Brewers before 2016!)

Not only did Kohlscheen tie for the organization lead with Stephen Kohlscheen23 saves with Nate Griep, but his 2.54 ERA ranked second in the system among relievers with 25 or more appearances, he converted 23 of 25 save chances and he struck out 67 batters in 49 2/3 innings. Not bad for a 28-year-old who was released by the San Diego Padres in March before signing a Minor League contract with the Brewers.

OaklandJoe Bennie (Strasburg 2011), utility player. Joe’s brother Robert joined the A’s system in 2016.

With “an innate ability to hit,” Bennie had his best statistical season with 13 jacks and 76 RBIs. The 25-year-old kept his Joe Bennie August 2015offense up while moving around the field. Bennie saw time at second, third, left and right this season.

“Joe’s an exceptional individual in terms of his work ethic, his dedication, his commitment to the game and his willingness to basically adapt and try to make adjustments and real change in how he plays the game,” [Stockton manager Rick] Magnante said. “And that was reflected this year in terms of the growth and development that he showed. He was definitely a hard worker.”

San DiegoKyle McGrath (Staunton 2011), relief pitcher.

The fans’ MiLBY selection as Top Relief Pitcher blazed through three levels, dominating every step of the way. Kyle McGrathMcGrath finished the year with a 0.93 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 67 innings. Opponents hit just .174 against the Louisville product, who has a 1.45 ERA and a strikeout rate of better than 10 per nine innings in 100 career appearances.

SeattleRyan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), left-handed starter.

The southpaw complement to [Andrew] Moore, Yarbrough was an anchor for the Generals, putting up a 12-4 record Ryan Yarbroughand a 2.95 ERA. The Old Dominion product won six straight starts from April 30 through May 29, kicking off that streak with a seven-inning shutout of Mobile. He wrapped his season with five wins in his final six decisions and a 1.13 ERA in four August starts, capturing midseason and postseason All-Star honors and the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher award.

St.LouisAustin Gomber (Luray 2012), left-handed starter, and Yarbrough’s teammate in 2012! (And Luray only went 16-26 that season. Hmm.)

Gomber went 7-8 with a 2.69 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 127 innings, including a 1.40 ERA in 19 1/3 frames with Austin Gomber Peoria 2015Springfield. The 23-year-old has posted an ERA under 3.00 every season since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft.

“He continues to put together quality innings and quality starts,” [Cardinals director of player development Gary] LaRocque said. “He’s worked very hard on his secondary pitches. He’s got a good feel of his off-speed stuff and can pitch with contrast. Austin just continues to move through the system and produce at every level.”

Two from Luray and Staunton; one each from Harrisonburg, Covington, and Strasburg.

Congratulations to all 7 players!

Yarbrough Named Southern League Postseason All-Star

Ryan YarbroughYet another former Valley Leaguer has been honored in the minor leagues; this time it’s Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), who was named to the Southern League’s postseason all-star team!

Ryan absolutely deserves it. Over 24 starts this season for Double-A Jackson, he’s 12-4, 2.92. He’s allowed 108 hits, 31 walks, and has struck out 98 batters in 126 1/3 innings pitched. He’s currently on the disabled list; the Mariners placed him on the 7-day DL on August 20th. Ryan struggled with a groin injury in 2015, but I couldn’t find out what the issue is this time around. It could be that he fulfilled his innings limit for the year.

At any rate, congrats to Ryan!

Yarbrough Making Waves

Ryan Yarbrough 2016 JacksonRyan Yarbrough (Luray 2012) ascended to Double-A Jackson in Seattle’s system this year, amidst being named one of the top prospects in the system, according to Baseball Prospectus (#5), Fangraphs (#8), John Sickels (#9), and major league baseball (#12).

He’s done little to hurt his stock, that’s for sure. In fact, last week, he was named not only to Baseball America’s “Hot Sheet,” but also the pitcher of the week in the Southern League by milb.com.

Baseball America named him #14 on their hot sheet last Friday, with the following writeup:

Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 13 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 11 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: A fourth-round pick in 2014, Yarbrough was signed by area scout Devitt Moore as a low-cost senior sign that helped give the Mariners enough money to sign Gareth Morgan to a well-above-slot deal. Three seasons later Morgan is in his third season in the Arizona League while the senior sign has proven to be one of the Mariners’ best pitching prospects. Yarbrough doesn’t have the stuff to dominate, but he can locate and gets good angle on his pitches. It adds up to a potential back-of-the-rotation option for Seattle in the not-to-distant (sic) future.

Nice job, Ryan!

Ryan Yarbrough Jackson pitching 2016

Four Great Starts

On Friday and Saturday, four former Valley Leaguers started a game on the mound, and recorded a game score of 69 or better. To make it even more fun, the four games were on four different levels. From top to bottom:

  • Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system, threw 6 shutout innings on Saturday against Norfolk. His team went on to lose the game, but Chad did all he could, putting up a game score of 69. In those 6 innings, he allowed 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 3. For the season so far, Chad is 2-0, 1.31, with 15 hits, 4 walks, and 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings pitched. Call him up!
  •  The best start of the four was turned in by Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), who threw 7 shutout innings for Double-A Jackson, of the Seattle Mariners’ system (on Star Wars night!). Ryan allowed 3 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 4, to earn a game score of 73. Ryan is now 1-1, 3.04 on the season, with 22 hits, 11 walks, and 23 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Luke Leftwich (Aldie 2013) continued his strikeout tear for Low-A Lakewood (Phillies’ affiliate), which his dominating performance over Greenville on Friday. Luke finished 6 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks, and struck out 11 to earn a game score of 70. For the season, Luke is 1-1, 3.00, with 29 strikeouts in only 18 innings!
  • Also on Friday, Brandon Gold (Harrisonburg 2014) turned in a masterful performance for Georgia Tech, as they defeated #15 Coastal Carolina, 9-1. Brandon threw 8 innings and allowed only 6 hits, 2 walks, 1 earned run, and struck out 5 for a game score of 69. By ERA, Brandon has been the best Yellow Jacket by a pretty fair margin this year. The junior is 5-2, 2.36, with 70 hits, 20 walks, and 59 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings.

Congrats to all four pitchers!

Brandon Gold (Aaron Fitt)

Brandon Gold (Aaron Fitt)