Major league spring training will be wrapping up in a couple days, and while that means that a few Valley League alumni, like Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-05) and Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), will start off 2017 with a starting position with their respective clubs, a few more, like perhaps Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2006-07), will go north as a bench player. Others, like Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000) and Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), will be on the pitching staff of their organization.
Most alumni, though, are still plying their trade in the minor leagues. But spring training is a great chance for some of them to turn some heads, and impress those who are making the decisions.
Bleacher report has recently published an article on one player from each major league team who has been the biggest “revelation.” Awesomely, three former Valley Leaguers have made the cut.
Here they are:
Colorado Rockies: Stephen Cardullo (Covington 2007):
Spring Stats: 44 PA, 13-for-37, 3 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R, 5/8 BB/K
The Colorado Rockies have been bitten hard by the injury bug this spring.
Among position players, David Dahl, Ian Desmond and Tom Murphy are all expected to begin the season on the disabled list, and that has opened the door for non-roster invitee Stephen Cardullo to win a bench job.
“You can’t say enough about how he’s hitting,” manager Bud Black told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “He’s squaring balls up against all types of pitchers and he’s playing with a great deal of intent to try and make this ballclub.”
The 29-year-old spent four seasons playing indy ball before the Rockies took a flier on him last year, and he went on to hit .308/.367/.522 with 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 72 RBI in 452 plate appearances in Triple-A.
That earned him a late-season promotion, and he posted a .665 OPS with three doubles and two home runs in 59 plate appearances in the first MLB action of his career.
Now he’ll have a chance to battle for the available playing time at first base and in left field while Desmond and Dahl are on the mend.
Kansas City Royals: Eric Stout (Waynesboro 2012):
Spring Stats: 7 G, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
There probably won’t be a spot for Eric Stout on the Opening Day roster.
The Kansas City Royals already have two lefties—rookie Matt Strahm and former starter Mike Minor—locked into bullpen jobs, and Scott Alexander (8 G, 8.2 IP, 1 ER) has pitched well enough to hold on to his spot from a year ago.
That leaves Stout on the outside looking in, but he’s made a terrific impression in his first big league camp with seven strong innings.
The 23-year-old posted a 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 in 42 appearances at the Double-A level last season and followed that up with a 2.77 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13 innings in the Arizona Fall League.
He looks like the next southpaw up, at least until Brian Flynn is recovered from a fractured rib.
Spring Stats: 4 G, 10.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
There’s no missing Max Povse.
The 6’8″ right-hander is an imposing figure on the mound, and he turned heads this spring before being optioned to the minors last week.
The 23-year-old has made just 11 starts above the Single-A level, so a return to the minors was inevitable, but there’s little question he made a good first impression on his new club.
Povse was acquired from the Atlanta Braves along with fellow right-hander Rob Whalen this offseason in exchange for former top prospect Alex Jackson.
Now he’s squarely in the conversation along with Nick Neidert and Andrew Moore for the title of top pitching prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, and he’ll begin the season in Triple-A.
While he may not have overpowering stuff, he uses his big frame well to generate a good downward plane, and he has a solid changeup-curveball pairing to back his low-90s fastball that tops out at 94.