The Ridiculousness That is Mike O’Reilly

Mike O'Reilly Peoria 2017

Mike O’Reilly pitched in Woodstock back in 2014. He was very good in the VBL as a rising sophomore- in fact, ATVL named him the 10th best starter in the league.

Picked in the 27th round of the 2016 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike was sent to the Gulf Coast League, where he pitched very well. He finished 3-1, 2.48 in 40 innings, with 35 hits allowed, only 5 walks, and 38 strikeouts. He was a finalist for ATVL’s short season pitcher of the year award (which went to Jordan DeLorenzo (Front Royal 13)).

Mike was assigned to low-A Peoria of the Midwest League to start 2017, and what he’s done so far this season is almost off the charts. At this point, after his incredible start on Monday night (July 10), Mike has 3 of the top 4 minor league starts by all Valley League alumni all season. Let’s take a look:

  • July 10, game score of 104: complete game shutout, 1 hit, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts
  • May 20, game score of 96: 8 1/3 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
  • June 7, game score of 91: complete game shutout, 2 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Overall, he’s 8-2, 1.56, with a 0.67 WHIP in 80 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 44 hits, 10 walks, and struck out 79. That’s juuuust about an 8-to-1 K-to-BB ratio.

Baseball America has mentioned Mike a couple times, and they make sure to say that Mike doesn’t have the best “stuff” in the system, as he works 88-90 with his fastball. To be sure, Mike has a long way to go, but we just can’t argue with these results.

I would expect Mike to make the jump to High-A very soon, as he honestly doesn’t have anything left to prove at the Low-A level.

Mike O'Reilly Peoria July 10 2017

 

2016 Short-Season Pitcher of the Year

jordan-delorenzo-state-college-2017The award for this level of the minor leagues came down to only two pitchers this year, and while both were very good, one juuuuust edged the other. So, the 2016 short-season pitcher of the year award goes to Jordan DeLorenzo (Front Royal 2013)!

Jordan, pitching for State College in the New York-Penn League, pitched mostly out of the bullpen. In 14 relief appearances (he started one game, too), he went 2-1, 2.90, with a 1.29 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and 11.0 K/9 in 31 innings pitched. He also saved one game. The high K/9 comes from 38 K’s in those 31 innings. He also pitched in 2 games for Peoria in the Midwest League, but those stats are not added here.

Jordan was drafted in the 12th round in 2014 by the Cardinals. He pitched in only 6 games in 2014 in the Appalachian League, and then 17 games in the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League in 2015. Hopefully he will make a full-season team in 2017!

Previous Winners:

2015- Brody Greer (Rockbridge 2012), Hillsboro in the Northwest League
2014- Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), Everett in the Northwest League

Other for Consideration:

Chad Martin (Aldie 2014), Staten Island: 4-0, 2.73, 1.27 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9, 8.5 K/9 in 33 IP

Front Royal Cardinal's pitcher Jordan DeLorenzo Rich Cooley/Daily

DeLorenzo pitching for Front Royal in 2013

Minor League Record Book: Saves in a Season

Most saves in a minor league season since the 2006 draft:

1 Chris Perez Staunton ’04 2007 36
2 Rob Delaney New Market ’03 2007 35
3 Josh Edgin Winchester ’07 2011 27
4 Derrick Lutz Front Royal ’04 2007 23
Josh Judy Haymarket ’06-07 2011 23
Austin Hubbard Fauquier ’08 2012 23
7 David Carpenter Covington ’04 2010 20
8 Pete Andrelczyk Waynesboro ’07 2009 19
Matt Hockenberry Woodstock ’13 2015 19
10 Rob Delaney New Market ’03 2008 18
Kevin Johnson Haymarket ’09 2012 18

There’s a bit of a wider gap between #1 and #10- unlike wins. But like wins, only one pitcher appears twice- Rob Delaney.

Many of these guys have pitched in the major leagues- Chris Perez, Delaney, Josh Edgin, Josh Judy, and David Carpenter (who played in the Valley League as a catcher, actually).

Still active: Edgin, Judy (pitched in Mexico), Matt Hockenberry (in the Phillies’ system- here’s to hoping he gets a shot in Philly in 2017!)

Next up: strikeouts in a season

Chris Perez with the Cardinals

Chris Perez with the Cardinals

Spitz Has Great Night

Thomas SpitzMaybe it’s something in the water?

Another former Harrisonburg Turk had an amazing night in the minor leagues- this time it’s Thomas Spitz (Harrisonburg 2013-14), who had a career night on May 15th, the same day I was writing about AJ Murray’s 5-5 night.

Spitz, a 32nd round pick of the Cardinals in the 2015 draft, went 4-5 for Peoria (Midwest League), along with a home run, 2 RBIs, and 3 runs. His batting average jumped 31 points after just this one game, leaving him at 264/337/330 after 91 at-bats, with 3 doubles, 1 home run, 2 stolen bases, and a 10/19 BB/K ratio.

Congrats on the great night!

 

Three Unhittable Relievers

While I was searching through the website milb.com, 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!
Hockenberry

Hockenberry

McGrath

McGrath

Herget

Herget

 

Wilson Named Top Prospect

Jacob WilsonThe 9th alumnus to be honored with some ink is former Luray Wrangler Jacob Wilson (2009), a 10th round draft pick in 2012 of the St. Louis Cardinals! Jacob reached Triple-A Memphis is 2015 for 89 games, and has been sent back to the Redbirds for 2016. He has been named in three outlets:

Fangraphs named Jacob in its “Quick Hits” section under the list of 26:

2B/3B Jacob Wilson has nice raw power and some defensive versatility, being able to man second or third base at a just below-average level. His walk rates will really have to shine through to make up for the lack of adjustability and strike zone coverage at the plate, but his strengths could provide situational value to a big league bench.

MLB.com listed Jacob at #16 in the system:

Wilson, a senior sign out of Memphis who got $20,000 to sign in the 10th round of the 2012 Draft, has been making slow and steady progress up the Cardinals’ organizational ladder. He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2015 and is on the cusp of helping out in St. Louis.

While Wilson is never going to hit for a ton of batting average, he can do some valuable things with the bat. He has at least Major League average power from the right side of the plate. While he may not rack up hits, he also doesn’t strikeout an exorbitant amount, with a willingness to draw a walk on occasion. A below-average runner, Wilson plays adequate defense at second and third.

Because of his limitations defensively, he likely profiles better as a utility guy, though he can’t play shortstop. Wilson’s greatest value comes from that power, which allowed him to tie a career mark in homers with 18 in 2015. He could be an everyday guy if he shows he can run into pitches more consistently, but it’s more likely he provides a valuable right-handed bat off the bench.

John Sickels also listed Jacob as an “other of note,” but without an individual writeup.

Jacob is one of the players that I think will get to play in the majors this season. All it will take is an injury, probably. He looks like he can be an asset off the bench!

Gomber’s Prospect Status

Austin_Gomber_865psox7_fjz9zmxhThe 6th former Valley Leaguer to earn prospect status is the former Luray Wrangler Austin Gomber (2012). Austin was drafted by the Cardinals out of Florida Atlantic in the 4th round in 2014. Since then, he’s dominated minor league hitters in both the New-York Penn and Midwest Leagues. Austin was written up by three different websites.

Fangraphs pegs Austin as the #16 prospect in the St. Louis system.

Gomber has the look of a solid back-half starter with three potential average or better pitches. He throws strikes at a solid rate, and even saw an uptick in strikeouts in his full-season stint in Single-A. The only blemish is how his arm can look disconnected from the rest of his body with some stiff actions at times, which contributes to his command lagging behind his overall control. Nonetheless, lefties with a couple pitches and good control have a place in every big-league staff, and Gomber looks to be one of those guys. If the effort doesn’t settle down, he still has a reliable future working out of the bullpen.

MLB.com has him one spot lower, at #17:

A big lefty out of Florida Atlantic taken in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft, Gomber absolutely dominated the Midwest League during his first full season of pro ball, leading the Cardinals organization in wins, WHIP and batting average against, while finishing second in strikeouts to top prospect Alex Reyes.

While Gomber’s stuff doesn’t jump off the page, he does have two above-average pitches at his disposal. His 90-92 mph fastball plays up because of its life. He gets many swings and misses off of his changeup, his best pitch, maintaining his arm speed very well while throwing it. The Cardinals call his breaking ball a curve, but it’s more of a 78-80 mph slurve, which can be an effective third pitch. Gomber throws all of his pitches for strikes, working both sides of the plate effectively and mixing his pitches well.

Gomber’s upside is somewhat limited to that of a No. 4 or 5 starter, but he seems a safe bet to reach that ceiling. With his advanced pitchability, he could start moving through the system a bit more quickly.

Lastly, John Sickels places Gomber at #15:

Age 22, fourth round pick out of Florida Atlantic in 2014, very successful campaign in Low-A going 15-3, 2.67 with 140/34 K/BB in 135 innings, 97 hits, low-90s fastball delivered from 6-5, 205 frame, best pitch is above-average change-up, has made progress sharpening curveball, control is obviously strong. Could be where Tim Cooney is two years from now.

“Reliable future working out of the pen,” “two above-average pitches,” and “control is strong.” Not bad. I think we’ll see Austin in St. Louis before too long!