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.

Minor League Record Book: Walks in a Season

Now we come to walks. Controlling the strike zone is much more important now than it was back when I was growing up, so who, out of all the VBL alumni in the minor leagues since 2006, controlled it the best in one season?

1 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2015 89
2 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2014 88
3 AJ Kirby-Jones Waynesboro ’09 2012 86
4 Tyler White Haymarket ’10 2015 84
5 Tyler Bortnick Front Royal ’06 2011 79
Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2012 79
Joey Butler New Market ’06 2012 79
Ryan Schmipf Luray ’08 2013 79
9 Rob Kral Waynesboro ’09 2013 78
10 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2016 74

The easy answer to the question above is obviously Sherman Johnson, who take the top 2 spots along with #10. He is the only repeat player on the list. He played in Triple-A in 2016.

Tyler White, Clint Robinson, Joey Butler, and Ryan Schimpf have all played in the majors, and are still active. Johnson, obviously, along with Tyler Bortnick, is still active as well.

AJ Kirby-Jones and Rob Kral are out of affiliated ball (although both played in the Indy Leagues recently).

Stolen bases are next!

Sherman Johnson

Sherman Johnson

Minor League Record Book: Triples in a Season

Next category in our minor league seasonal record book since the 2006 draft is triples…. and thanks to a major tie for last place, we have a plethora of names!

1 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2014 13
2 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2010 12
Chad Oberacker Fauquier ’09 2013 12
4 Scott Cousins Harrisonburg ’05 2009 11
Tony Thomas Harrisonburg ’05 2010 11
Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 2010 11
Tyler Kuhn Luray ’06-07 2011 11
8 Ruben Sosa Harrisonburg ’10 2014 10
Cory Spangenberg Winchester ’10 2014 10
10 James McOwen Luray ’05-06 2008 9
Tyler Kuhn Luray ’06-07 2008 9
Steven Bumbry Woodstock ’09 2010 9
Jason Kipnis Covington ’06-07 2011 9
Tony Thomas Harrisonburg ’05 2013 9
Cory Spangenberg Winchester ’10 2013 9
Michael Garza Woodstock ’09-’10 2013 9
Kyri Washington Woodstock ’13 2016 9

The only names repeated on this entire list are Tony Thomas, Tyler Kuhn, and Cory Spangenberg. Major leaguers are Scott Cousins, Ryan Schimpf, Spangenberg, and Jason Kipnis. Still in organized ball: Sherman Johnson, Schimpf, Ruben Sosa, Kipnis, Spangenberg, and Kyri Washington. Washington joined the list in ’16.

Next up is home runs!

Sherman Johnson

Sherman Johnson

Minor League Record Book: Runs in a Season

Now that we’ve finished the look at the minor league career record book for hitters, we’ll turn our attention to the seasonal records. For some of these, of course, not much has changed in years. (And, keep in mind, these records are over the past 11 seasons- starting in 2006.) So let’s start with runs.

1 John Raynor New Market ’04 2007 110
2 Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2014 107
3 John Raynor New Market ’04 2008 104
4 Jason Kipnis Covington ’06-07 2010 96
Tyler Bortnick Front Royal ’06 2011 96
6 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2010 95
Collin Cowgill Covington ’05 2011 95
8 Mac Williamson Harrisonburg ’11 2013 94
9 Mike Mitchell Staunton ’06 2008 93
Joey Butler New Market ’06 2012 93

Nothing new since Sherman Johnson scored all the way to 2nd place in 2014. John Raynor holding down 1st AND 3rd looks pretty good.

Major leaguers: Raynor, Jason Kipnis, Collin Cowgill, Mac Williamson, and Joey Butler. (I would hope that Johnson makes it in 2017, but, obviously, there are no guarantees…)

Out of affiliated ball: Raynor, Auer, Mitchell.

Raynor in 2008

Raynor in 2008

Minor League Record Book: Career Triples

Finally a list without Clint Robinson at the top! Let’s just say that with all of Clint’s talents, running fast is not one of them.

Anyway, here is the list for most career minor league triples since the 2006 draft!

1 Tony Thomas Harrisonburg ’05 48
2 Tyler Kuhn Luray ’06-07 42
3 Chad Oberacker Fauquier ’09 34
4 Ben Guez Covington ’06 33
5 Tyler Bortnick Front Royal ’06 30
6 Cory Spangenberg Winchester ’10 29
Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-’10 29
8 Adam Calderone Woodstock ’04 28
9 Scott Cousins Harrisonburg ’05 26
10 Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 23
Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 23
Collin Cowgill Covington ’05 23

Not a ton of hope for rapid movement in this one. Tyler Bortnick is still active, even though he’s a minor league free agent at the moment. Sherman Johnson is still active in the Angels’ system, and Cory Spangenberg, Ryan Schimpf, and Collin Cowgill are all mostly major leaguers now. (Although all will probably see more minor league at-bats before their respective careers are finished.)

All the others- Thomas , Kuhn, Oberacker, Guez, Calderone, Cousins, and Auer are no longer in affiliated ball.

Sherman Johnson

Sherman Johnson

Johnson Off to Scorching Start

Sherman Johnson AA ArkansasThere are good starts, great starts, hot starts, and then there are “scorching” starts.

Sherman Johnson (Covington 2009-10) is off to a scorching start.

Some were disappointed in Johnson’s 2015 campaign for Double-A Arkansas, when he hit 204/325/314 in 490 at-bats, after hitting 276/382/465 in 529 at-bats the year before at Inland Empire (in the High-A California League). But those Double-A numbers were hurt by an abnormally low .240 batting average on balls in play.

Well, Sherman was reassigned to Double-A in 2016, and in only 65 at-bats, he proved that he was ready for Triple-A, and was indeed promoted. In those 65 at-bats, Sherman hit 369/481/677, with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, 18 runs scored, and his usual sterling BB/K ratio, at 14/13. He went 5-5 with 4 runs on April 30, and then 4-4 in the second game of a doubleheader May 1st.

He was called up to Triple-A Salt Lake on May 3rd, and has gone 1-12 with a home run so far at the new level. That new level is just one small step away from making the major leagues!

Johnson Named Angels Prospect

Sherman JohnsonSherman Johnson (Covington 2009-10) is a fascinating player. In four minor league seasons, he’s walked 299 times while striking out 342 times, which is a very strong ratio. He also has power; he has 87 doubles, 26 triples, and 31 home runs. He’s also stolen 69 bases. So he controls the strike zone, has a bit of power, and can run. Still, though, he doesn’t show up on most prospect lists. Fangraphs included him, though, in their Los Angeles Angels minor league evaluation, and John Sickels also named him an “other of note,” but without a writeup.

This is what Fangraphs wrote about Sherman, naming him “Cistulli’s Guy” (because Fangraphs writer Carson Cistulli gets to choose a favorite player):

Johnson received the distinction of Cistulli’s Guy as part of last year’s version of this same exercise, when human reggaeton horn Kiley McDaniel was authoring it. That version of Johnson merited attention most immediately for having produced nearly equivalent walk and strikeout rates (14.0% and 16.5%, respectively) at High-A Inland Empire while exhibiting a compelling power-speed combo package (17 homers, 26 stolen bases) and recording basically all his defensive starts at either second, third, and short.

By all those measures, Johnson’s 2015 campaign was almost identical to the year prior. He produced nearly equivalent walk and strikeout rates (15.1% and 17.3%, respectively) at Double-A Arkansas while exhibiting a reasonably compelling power-speed combo package (seven homers, 20 stolen bases) and recording absolutely all his defensive starts at either second, third, or short. The only difference appeared within his slash lines: .276/.382/.465 in the California League and .204/.325/.314 in the Texas League. The disparity between those lines, however, is almost entirely the product of BABIP, which was .314 in the former case and .240 in the latter — a disparity for which a combination of random variation and changes in run environment can wholly account.

In other words, the basic profile remains: Johnson controls the plate, runs well, and is likely to earn positive defensive numbers when (not if) he earns a chance in the majors. Below is footage of Johnson defending second base admirably.

“When (not if) he earns a chance in the majors.” Yeah! Sherman is back in Double-A Arkansas to start 2016, but perhaps his number will be called…..