McGrath Mades Major League Debut!

Kyle McGrath SD 2017The San Diego Padres have called up former Staunton Brave Kyle McGrath (2011)!

By my count the 203rd Valley League alumnus to make his major league debut, Kyle ascended through the minors very quickly since he was drafted in the 36th round in the 2014 draft. The reason? He has been amazing at getting hitters out (which is a pitcher’s job, after all).

Initially assigned to the Arizona League, Kyle went 1-0, 0.79, with 22 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings and a 0.618 WHIP in his first pro season. In 2015, he pitched in Double-A for one game, but spent the rest of the year at Fort Wayne of the Midwest League, where he went 3-0, 1.70, with a 0.932 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.

Last year, in 2016, he pitched in one game in Triple-A, and went 1-0, 0.00 in 17 1/3 innings in Lake Elsinore of the California League, and 1-2, 1.29, with a 0.822 WHIP and 50 K’s in 48 2/3 innings for Double-A San Antonio.

This season, Kyle is 1-1, 2.66 at San Antonio, with a 0.845 WHIP and 27 K’s in 23 2/3 innings.

In his entire minor league career (so far), Kyle is 7-5, 1.61, with a 0.839 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, and 10.1 K/9 in 184 2/3 innings (208 strikeouts!).

Kyle made his major league debut last night, July 30th, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He threw a clean inning while striking out 2.

Congratulations, Kyle!


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!





Jay Signed By Cubs

ct-cubs-jon-jay-contract-20161129The free agent dominoes are starting to fall in major league baseball- and a former Valley Leaguer is one of the first!

Jon Jay, a Staunton Brave back in 2004, has been signed by Theo Epstein and the world champion Chicago Cubs to either platoon with Albert Almora or be a pinch hitter/defensive replacement. His contract is only for one year, but he’ll make a cool $8 million. (I feel like we need to write “world champion Cubs” as much as possible over the next four months.)

Jay is a career 287/352/384 hitter in 7 seasons, and is considered an excellent defender in the outfield. Now he gets to chase another world series ring (he won one in 2011 in St.Louis)!

Schimpf Makes Major League Debut!

Ryan Schimpf San Diego 2016Add a fourth to the party!

Joining Tyler White (Haymarket 2010), Chris Devenski (Woodstock 2011), and Ashur Tolliver (Harrisonburg 2007), Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008) has made his major league debut this season!

Ryan signed a minor league free agent contract with the San Diego Padres last November, leaving the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that drafted him in the 5th round in 2009.

Ryan was assigned to Triple-A El Paso by the Padres out of spring training, and he proceeded to annihilate the league. He hit 355/432/729 in 166 at-bats, with 17 doubles, 15 home runs, 48 RBIs, and a solid 21/33 BB/K ratio. His OPS was 1.160!

So his call-up should not really come as a surprise, except that Ryan was not on the Padres’ 40-man roster, meaning that the Padres had to designate someone else for “assignment” (which turned out to be catcher Hector Sanchez).

Ryan made his major league debut last night at third base, and even hit a double in his first major league at-bat! He scored a run eventually, too.

Congratulations, Ryan!

Ryan Schimpf San Diego Debut June 14 2016

Minor League News

On this day in which there are no Valley League games to discuss, let’s take a look at four bits of news about former Valley Leaguers in the minor leagues!

  • Yesterday, Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008) was named the Hitter of the Week for the Triple-A Pacific Coast League by! Ryan hit 500/586/1.292 in 6 games for El Paso, along with 9 runs, 11 RBIs, 5 walks, 4 doubles, and 5 home runs. Wow. For the season, Ryan is now hitting 345/407/717 in 145 at-bats. I think it’s time for the Padres to call him up!
  • Joe Bennie (Strasburg 2011) was also named Hitter of the Week by yesterday- for the High-A California League. Joe hit 565/600/826 in 6 games, with 4 runs, 6 RBIs, 3 doubles, and a home run. Joe is now hitting 294/370/417 in 218 at-bats for Stockton.
  • Joseph Odom (Winchester 2012) hit two home runs last night for High-A Carolina, which is wonderful, of course, but the remarkable thing about his performance is that the home runs came in the same inning. He drove in 5 runs, too. On the year so far, Joseph is hitting 275/333/470 in 149 at-bats.
  • Matt Solter (Strasburg 2012) was recently signed as a minor league free agent by the San Francisco Giants, and he made his minor league debut on June 4th for the Low-A Augusta Greenjackets. Matt started on the mound, and allowed 6 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and struck out 2 in 5 innings.

Congratulations to all four players!

Joseph Odom

Joseph Odom

Three Unhittable Relievers

While I was searching through the website, looking for placements of the professional Valley League alumni, I came across three relievers who are off to almost unhittable starts for their minor league teams. Obviously, it’s still April, so we’re dealing with tiny sample sizes. Still, though, a great start is something to be celebrated.

  • Matt Hockenberry (Woodstock 2013): Pitching for High-A Clearwater, the 9th rounder from 2014 has pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings, while allowing 5 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 5. His batting average against is .167. I’m very curious to see where Matt ends up this year. The Phillies’ bullpen is going to need all the help it can get, and Matt is already 24. Might he find himself in Philadelphia by the end of the year?)
  • Kyle McGrath (Staunton 2011): Also in High-A, but for Lake Elsinore in the California League, Kyle is once again striking out a ton of batters. Heading into 2016, he struck out 103 batters in 93 1/3 innings, and he’s back at it so far this April. He’s 1-0, 0.00 in 7 games and 10 2/3 innings, along with 5 hits, only 1 walk, and a whopping 15 strikeouts. He has a career ERA of 1.64!
  • Kevin Herget (Strasburg 2012): Kevin is in the same league as Hockenberry, pitching for Palm Beach. He has a history as storied as McGrath, really. A 39th round pick of the Cardinals in 2013, Kevin came into 2016 with 204 K’s in 204 1/3 innings. He’s been the best of the three so far in 2016, as he’s 0-0, 0.00, with 4 saves, and in 15 2/3 innings, he’s allowed only 2 hits, 12 walk, and has struck out 16. His batting average against is a minuscule .041!







Alonso, Cowgill Traded

Two Valley League alumni from the mid-2000’s were traded on the same day this week- Yonder Alonso (Luray 2006) and Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005).

The San Diego Padres traded Alonso, along with reliever Marc Rzepczynski, to the Oakland A’s for pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres. Yonder played in 103 games in 2015, and hit 282/361/381. If he can stay healthy, he may be just the man the A’s need at first base.

Cowgill was traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Collin hit 188/233/290 in 69 at-bats in 2015. He’s a good defender who can play all three outfield spots, and the Indians like his versatility.

Good luck to both guys in their new homes!