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.
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Copeland Combines On No-Hitter

Former Staunton Brave Scott Copeland (2007) combined with two relievers to throw a no-hitter for Triple-A New Orleans April 14th.

Copeland, who appeared in 5 games in the majors for Toronto in 2015, made quick work of the Iowa Cubs. Finishing 7 innings while throwing only 63 pitches, Copeland ended up with 7 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. Hunter Cervenka and Brandon Cunniff threw the last two innings. Copeland’s game score finished at 88, which is the highest game score in the young season so far.

After two starts, Scott is 1-1, 2.45, with 13 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched. He’s making his case to help the Marlins this season, I think!

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2016 Minor League Free Agents

The carousel has started spinning.

For minor league players, the time may come when they are minor league free agents, which means they can offer their services to any major league team. This is a far cry from major league free agency, when players are paid millions upon millions of dollars along with a multi-year deal. Minor league free agents are often looking for a little raise and a spring training invitation. Most of these players are signed as organizational depth, with the chance to be added to the 40-man roster and a major league appearance or two, if they’re lucky.

After a player is drafted, the “uniform player contract” can be renewed six times, and then the player is either a free agent or is added to the 40-man roster. So for 2010 draftees, their contract can be renewed through 2016, and if not on the 40-man, they are free (technically 5 days after the World Series ends, that is).

Baseball America lists 534 players who fit this designation this offseason. Eleven of them are former Valley Leaguers. Here they are:

  1. Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10). Drew pitched for the Los Angeles Angels in the majors in 2014 and 2015 (in 7 games), and spent 2016 in Triple-A Iowa of the Cubs’ system.
  2. Chris Berset (Winchester 2008). Chris, a catcher, was drafted by the Reds in the 20th round in 2010. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game, and he spent 2016 in Triple-A Louisville.
  3. Tyler Bortnick (Front Royal 2006). Tyler was drafted in the 16th round in 2009 by the Tampa Bay Rays. He has spent time in the Diamondbacks’, Mariners’, and Tigers’ systems as well. He played in three different levels for the Tigers in 2016. He has not reached the majors.
  4. Alex Fernandez (Staunton 2012). Alex is a free agent because he was released by the Marlins during the 2016 season. He was signed by the Tigers, but now he’s back on the market.
  5. Rico Noel (Covington 2008). Rico appeared in 15 games for the Yankees in 2015, and spent most of 2016 in Triple-A Oklahoma City, toiling in the Dodgers’ system.
  6. Alex Wimmers (Luray 2008). Alex was a first round pick, #21 overall, of the Twins in 2010. He pitched in 16 games in the majors in 2016.
  7. Eric Campbell (Luray 2006). Eric has played in parts of three seasons for the Mets in the majors, racking up 505 plate appearances.
  8. Eddy Rodriguez (Luray 2006-07). Eddy appeared in two games with the Padres way back in 2012… but he hit a home run in one of his five at-bats. Eddy spent 2016 on the Yankee’s Triple-A team in the International League.
  9. Kevin Munson (Covington 2008). The former JMU Duke appeared in 19 games for Triple-A Tacoma in 2016, after a stint in Indy Ball. He has not pitched in the majors yet.
  10. Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007). Scott pitched in five major league games for the Blue Jays- all in 2015. He also pitched in 13 games in Korea in 2016, and the rest of the way for Triple-A Buffalo, back in the Jays’ system.
  11. Erik Kratz (Waynesboro, Harrisonburg 2000, 2001). Over 7 years, Erik has appeared in 225 games, and has a total of 599 at-bats in the major leagues (for 5 different teams). Erik helped get this blog off the ground way back in November of 2006, when he sat down for a huge interview with ATVL.

Hopefully all 11 of these players will be able to continue their careers in 2017! ATVL will keep everyone posted as anything develops!

2015 Triple-A Pitcher of the Year

2014 Winner: Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-08), setting himself up nicely to make his major league debut in 2015.

2015 Winner: Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007)

Scott Copeland Toronto headshotCopeland didn’t have to wait a year to make his debut after an excellent AAA season- the Blue Jays called Scott up on May 2nd, in the midst of his minor league season. Scott was a 21st round pick in the 2010 draft- of the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles released him in 2012, and the Blue Jays grabbed him. for some reason, he has been a different pitcher- a much better one- in the Toronto system.

Anyway, in 2015, Scott went 11-6, 2.95 in 21 games- 20 of them starts for Buffalo in the International League. In 125 innings, he finished with a 1.25 WHIP, 2.67 BB/9, and 4.75 K/9. Scott has resigned with the Blue Jays for 2016.

Others to Consider

Greg Burke (Front Royal 2001): 3-0, 3.16 in 22 games- 0.99 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 8.6 K/9 for Buffalo
Kaleb Fleck (Waynesboro 2008, 2010): 4-1, 3.46, 7 saves in 42 games- 1.37 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, and 11.4 K/9 for Reno
Guido Knudson (Woodstock 2009): 1-2, 2.34, 10 saves in 32 games- 1.16 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 for Toledo
Grag Nappo (Haymarket 2010): 2-3, 2.66 in 33 games- 1.04 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 8.2 K/9 for New Orleans

Updates on Copeland, Liberatore, and Leathersich

The Valley League has seen three former players make their major league debuts so far in the 2015 season: Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007), Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-08), and Jack Leathersich (Haymarket 2009).*

* Interesting that two of the three won VBL titles- Liberatore in ’07 and Leathersich in ’09*

Scott Copeland Toronto headshot

Copeland

The fun part is that all three pitchers have been effective- to different levels of effectiveness, sure, but still effective- in their stints with their major league clubs.

Copeland has only pitched in two games (through Wednesday, May 20) for the Toronto Blue Jays, but has not allowed a run. Overall, he’s 0-0, 0.00, and has allowed 2 hits and 2 walks in 3 innings pitched. So his WHIP is 1.333, but the point of pitching is to keep the other guys from scoring, so he’s done his job.

Liberatore was poached by new Dodgers’ president of operations Andrew Friedman, who traded for the former Tampa Bay Ray after Friedman left the Rays. Adam has been outstanding since his callup in the middle of April. Overall, he’s 0-1, 1.64 in 12 games and 11 innings pitched. He’s allowed only 5 hits and 1 walk, while

Liberatore

Liberatore

striking out 11. If Liberatore keeps pitching like this, he’ll be with the major league club all year for sure, and have an excellent chance of breaking Spring Training camp next March.

Leathersich seems to have filled in the role for the Mets that Josh Edgin (Winchester 2007) filled last year- a lefty reliever to equalize left handed batters. Jack has pitched in 5 games, but has only completed 3 innings. He’s allowed 3 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, and struck out 2. His WHIP is high, at 1.667, but again, like Copeland, he’s not allowed a run, so he’s doing his job.

Hopefully all three will stay in the majors the rest of the year, and keep putting up solid numbers!

Leathersich

Leathersich

Copeland Makes Major League Debut!

Scott Copeland Toronto May 2015On Saturday, May 2nd, former Staunton Brave Scott Copeland (2007) became the 18,463rd baseball player to make his major league debut!

If that number seems hard to comprehend, how about this: Scott is the third player from the Valley League to make his major league debut just this year, joining Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-08) and Jack Leathersich (Haymarket 2009).

Scott pitched in just two games for the Blue Jays before getting sent back to Triple-A Buffalo, but he acquitted himself well, throwing 3 shutout innings while allowing 2 hits and 2 walks. He’ll be back.

Scott was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 21st round of the 2010 draft, but was released in July of 2012 after an excellent debut season, but two tough ones in 2011 and 2012. The Toronto Blue Jays scooped him up right away, and sent him to High-A Dunedin, where Scott clearly became a different pitcher.

In 2012 in Dunedin, after going 3-8, 6.88 in Frederick, Scott went 4-1, 2.70. In 2013, back in Dunedin, Scott went 9-8, 3.74 in 146.2 innings. He took a big step forward in 2014, going 11-9, 3.45 in 164.1 innings across Double-A and Triple-A.

In 2015, not counting his cup of coffee in the majors, he’s 2-1, 1.74 in 31 innings pitched. Maybe he just gets better with age.

At any rate, congratulations on becoming another Valley League success story, Scott!

Minor League Starting Pitchers from Sunday, April 26

Just two from last night:

Starts on Sunday, April 26

  • Elih Villanueva (Luray 2007) for AA Bowie: 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 BB, 4 K’s, loss, 7-1, game score of 50. Elih is 2-2, 3.32.
  • Sam Howard (Staunton 2012) for A Asheville: Sam turns it around! 5 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 BB, 4 K’s, win, 3-2, game score of 65. Sam is now 0-2, 3.75 on the year. Ty Buttrey of Greenville threw 5 no-hit innings, and Sam almost matched him! The game went 14 innings.
  • Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008) for AAA Colorado Springs: postponed.

Starts Scheduled for Monday, April 27

  • Scott Copeland (Staunton 2007) for AAA Buffalo
  • Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008) for AAA Colorado Springs (game 1 of the doubleheader)