A Look at Chris Huffman, Prospect

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Chris Huffman is a name that should be well known to folks in the Valley- not only did he play in the VBL for two season (Staunton, 2012-2013), but he went to Fort Defiance High School, and then JMU for three seasons.

After those seasons with the Dukes, Chris was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 14th round in 2014. He hasn’t blown away the prospect community, so to speak, but he has steadily performed at each level, and now finds himself on the cusp of the major leagues.

Let’s take a look at his stats over the years:

  • 2012, with the Staunton Braves: 0-1, 4.35, 20 2/3 innings, 19 hits, 10 walks, 19 strikeouts
  • 2013, with the Braves again: 1-1, 2.07 in 6 games, 6 K’s in 8 2/3 innings (3 saves). He also went 0-1, 1.22 in 7 1/3 playoff innings.
  • 2014, after getting drafted, with Eugene in the Northwest League: 0-1, 4.26, 19 IP, 1.421 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
  • 2015, with Fort Wayne of the Midwest League: 9-6, 3.28, 107 IP, 1.224 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 4.9 K/9
  • 2016, with Lake Elsinore of the California League: 1-5, 3.78 in 131 IP, with a 1.290 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and 6.7 K/9
  • 2017, with three different teams and three different levels (Lake Elsinore again, Double-A San Antonio, and Triple-A El Paso): 8-8, 3.18 in 144 1/3 IP, 1.261 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
  • In his minor league career, he’s 27-20, 3.45 in 401 1/3 innings, with a 1.268 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and 6.5 K/9.

The 25-year old was named a San Diego “Organization All-Star” for his performance in 2017, along with the following writeup:

Climbing three levels, Huffman led Padres right-handers with a 3.18 ERA while placing fourth in the system with 144 innings pitched.

“He throws strikes. He’s very intelligent.,” [Director of Player Development Sam] Geaney said. “Going forward, we can see him in a variety of roles. He definitely has value as a starter and he put himself on the radar for us, and I imagine for other organizations, with his strike-throwing.”

I find the addition of “I imagine for other organizations” to be rather interesting here. Chris was not added to the Padres’ 40-man roster, so he is eligible to be chosen in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft (December 14). Is Geaney anticipating Chris will be chosen? I suppose the comment could also hint at Chris as trade bait, but I’m not sure why an organization would trade for him if they could have a shot at picking him in the draft next week.

Anyway, Chris, congratulations on being chosen as an Org All-Star, and good luck wherever you may be pitching next year!

Chris Huffman 2017

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Minor League Record Book: RBIs In a Season

Our next category in the minor league record book, both 2006-2017 and all-time, is RBIs in one season.

2006-2017
1 Dalton Hicks Luray ’09 2013 110
2 Jonathan Griffin Luray ’10 2012 102
3 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2011 100
Rudy Flores Haymarket ’10 2014 100
5 Tyler White Haymarket ’10 2015 99
6 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2010 98
Mickey Wiswall Winchester ’08 2012 98
8 Rebel Ridling Covington ’06 2009 97
9 Michael Snyder Haymarket ’11 2013 92
10 Ryan McBroom Haymarket ’11-’12 2015 90

Only one repeater on this list- the newly-retired Clint Robinson. Four players topped the century mark, in four successive seasons. Flores, White, and McBroom are the players still active.

All-Time
1 Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2008 121
2 Christopher Carter Waynesboro ’01 2005 115
Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2005 115
4 T.R. Marcinczyk Staunton 1999 111
5 Dalton Hicks Luray ’09 2013 110
6 Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2006 109
Nick Stavinoha Front Royal ’03 2011 109
8 Mark Davidson Winchester ’82 1985 106
9 Jonathan Griffin Luray ’10 2012 102
10 Jeff Manto Front Royal 1988 101
Ben Harrison Harrisonburg ’01 2006 101
12 Jeff Manto Front Royal 1994 100
Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2011 100
Rudy Flores Haymarket ’10 2014 100
15 Billy Sample Harrisonburg ’75 1978 99
Mike Lowell Waynesboro ’93 1998 99
Luis Lopez Winchester ’92-3 1997 99
Stephen Smitherman Winchester ’98-9 2002 99
Ryan Shealy Harrisonburg ’99 2004 99
Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2007 99
Tyler White Haymarket ’10 2015 99

Joe Koshansky is on this list four times, and three of the top seven! Jeff Manto appears twice as well.

In 2008, Koshansky was in Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Rockies’ system. He hit 300/380/600, with 90 runs, 137 hits, 36 doubles, 4 triples, and 31 home runs. He drove in 121 runs in 137 hits?!?

4 Added to 40-Man; 1 Released

With the Rule 5 draft coming up on December 14th, major league teams are filling out their 40-man rosters to protect the prospects they see a use for in the future. (Players can not be called up to the major leagues unless they are on the 40-man, so it is actually a very big hurdle to overcome for prospects.)

According to wikipedia (I know, I know), here are the rules for eligible players:

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and:

  • were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming; or
  • were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming.

FOUR former Valley Leaguers were added to their team’s 40-man roster over the past couple weeks, making them ineligible for the draft, but also means they could make the majors much easier:

Two players are newly-eligible for the draft but were NOT added to the 40-man (there are others, too):

ATVL will be watching to see if either of these guys, or any other VBLers, of course, are selected in any phase of the draft.

Also, one player has been released by his organization:

  • Jordan DeLorenzo (Front Royal 2013). Jordan was awesome for the Cards in ’13; he went 4-3, 1.69 in 8 starts, with a 0.82 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, and 9.8 K/9. ATVL named his the 2nd best starter in the league that year. Jordan was drafted in 2014 by St. Louis, and appeared in 40 minor league games over the last 4 years (he struggled with injuries).

How Did Our AFL Guys Do?

Can you believe, Dear Reader, that the Arizona Fall League has concluded already?

Well, it’s an honor to be selected to play there, so let’s look at how the three former Valley Leaguers pitched (because all three are hurlers).

  • Max Povse (Staunton 2013) started 6 games for Peoria, and went 1-2, 4.56, with 28 hits, 6 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings pitched. I can’t help but wonder if he was auditioning for a starting job with the 2018 Seattle Mariners… right now, rosterresource.com has Max listed at #7 for the rotation (2nd in AAA, with a mid-2018 ETA).
  • Tyler Cyr (Waynesboro 2014) pitched in 8 games for Scottsdale, and was also named to the all-star team. He went 0-1, 5.63 in 8 innings, with 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts.
  • Ryan Meisinger (Staunton 2014) was assigned to Salt River after the season started. He appeared in 6 games, going 1-0, 0.00 in 6 innings, while allowing 1 hit, 2 unearned runs, 0 walks, and 0 strikeouts. It’s a little odd that he didn’t walk or strike out anyone.

Minor League Record Book: Home Runs in a Season

Next record book entry is home runs in one minor league season, starting with the players drafted after 2005….

2006-2017
1 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2010 29
2 Jonathan Griffin Luray ’10 2012 28
Rudy Flores Haymarket ’10 2014 28
4 Michael Snyder Haymarket ’11 2013 25
Mac Williamson Harrisonburg ’11 2013 25
6 Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 2014 24
7 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-07 2011 23
Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 2013 23
Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 2015 23
10 Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 2012 22
Ryan McBroom Haymarket ’11-12 2016 22

There’s Clint Robinson at the top again, but also take a look at Ryan Schimpf- he’s listed four times- 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015! Four years in a row. He hit 15 minor league home runs in 2016, and 19 in 2017. (20 in the majors in 2016, and 14 in 2017)

Robinson just retired; Rudy Flores, Mac Williamson, and Ryan McBroom are all still active. Both Jonathan Griffin and Michael Snyder played in the Atlantic League the last couple years. In 2017, Griffin hit 278/348/419 in 448 plate appearances for New Britain, and Snyder hit 280/361/517 in 523 PA’s for Southern Maryland.

The all-timers:

All-Time
1 Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2005 38
2 Dan Pasqua New Market ’81 1984 33
3 Jeff Manto Front Royal 1994 31
Christopher Carter Waynesboro ’01 2005 31
Luke Scott Staunton 2005 31
Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2006 31
Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2008 31
8 Mike Lowell Waynesboro ’93 1997 30
9 Ryan Shealy Harrisonburg ’99 2004 29
Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-06 2010 29
11 Nick Stavinoha Front Royal ’03 2011 28
Jonathan Griffin Luray ’10 2012 28
Rudy Flores Haymarket ’10 2014 28
14 Pat Watkins Staunton 1994 27
Luke Scott Staunton 2004 27
16 Mike Lowell Waynesboro ’93 1998 26
T.R. Marcinczyk Staunton 1998 26
Ryan Shealy Harrisonburg ’99 2005 26
Ben Harrison Harrisonburg ’01 2006 26
Joe Koshansky Staunton ’02-03 2010 26

Now a different name shows up four times- Joe Koshansky! Joe hit 36 home runs in Asheville in 2005, and added 2 more in Double-A Tulsa. Lest anyone think that his output that year was solely based on the short right field dimensions in Asheville, he hit 31 in Tulsa in 2006, and then 31 again for Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2008. Three of his four seasons represented here are from different minor league levels.

Interesting that only one player is on this list from the entire decade of the 1980’s- Dan Pasqua. Then there are 5 entries from the 1990’s, 9 from the 2000’s, and the remaining 5 from 2010-2017.

Counting every entry (including players on the list more than once), Staunton has 8 lines, Harrisonburg has 4, Waynesboro 3, Front Royal 2, and New Market, Luray, and Haymarket all have 1.

Minor League Record Book: Triples in a Season

After Kevin Reese’s 50 doubles, let’s move on to the most exciting play in baseball… the triple. Right?

2006-2017
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

Kyri Washington is the newest member of this list, with his 9 triples in 2016. (Kyri missed much of 2017 with an injury.)

All-Time
1 Louie Meadows Staunton 1983 14
Louie Meadows Staunton 1984 14
Louie Meadows Staunton 1987 14
4 Billy Sample Harrisonburg ’75 1977 13
Billy Sample Harrisonburg ’75 1978 13
Sherman Johnson Covington ’09-10 2014 13
7 Allen Battle Front Royal 1993 12
Clay Timpner Staunton ’02 2005 12
Tyson Auer Luray ’05-06 2010 12
Chad Oberacker Fauquier ’09 2013 12
11 Doug Dascenzo Front Royal 1986 11
Tommy Murphy Staunton ’98 2005 11
Brett Gardner New Market ’03-04 2008 11
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
18 Gene Richards 1975 10
George Vukovich Harrisonburg 1979 10
Dan Pasqua New Market ’81 1983 10
Darren Lewis Harrisonburg 1991 10
John Massarelli Front Royal 1994 10
Kennard Bibbs Harrisonburg ’01 2004 10
Ruben Sosa Harrisonburg ’10 2014 10
Cory Spangenberg Winchester ’10 2014 10

Some fascinating names on this list- a mix of old and new. Louie Meadows wins the day, obviously.

Louie Meadows

A Look at Sam Howard, Prospect

Sam HowardThis offseason, ATVL will be taking a look at former Valley Leaguers who are showing up on prospect lists for their organizations. Sam Howard, who played in Staunton in 2012, will be our first “feature.”

Howard was drafted by the Rockies in the 3rd round of the the 2014 draft, and worked his way to Triple-A in 2017. He looks like he will help the big league club in the near future.

First of all, milb.com named Sam the best left handed starting pitcher in the Rockies’ system (they name the players with the “most outstanding” seasons at their respective positions, regardless of age or prospect status. For example, Stephen Cardullo (Covington 2007) was named last year, even though he was 29).

Here is what Michael Leboff wrote about Sam:

Howard made it to Triple-A in the middle of June thanks to a tremendous first half with Hartford. At the time of his promotion, the 2014 third-round pick owned a 2.33 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 46 1/3 innings. Those numbers came back to earth in the Pacific Coast League, but Howard still posted a more than respectable 3.89 ERA in the hitter-friendly circuit.

“Much like Almonte, he dominated Double-A,” [Rockies senior director of player personnel Zach] Wilson explained. “Once he was able to really lock down the usage of his changeup and tighten up his breaking ball a little bit, it was clear he was ready for a new challenge. He was able to fight through his challenges and grow from that. Both Sam and Yency [Almonte] are Major League pitchers that are well on their way.”

“Major league pitchers that are well on their way!”

Additionally, Sam ranks #12 on Colorado’s top 30 prospects list published by mlb.com. (I have to tell you, dear reader, that I used to use Baseball America’s rankings only, but mlb.com is free, and they update their lists more often…)

So here is what the site has to say about Sam, who was the #18 prospect in the preseason:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

After Howard worked mostly with an upper-80s fastball at Georgia Southern, the Rockies helped him add more balance to his delivery when he signed as a third-round pick in 2014. The adjustment improved his velocity and command and he responded by topping the low Class A South Atlantic League in strikeouts (122) and strikeout rate (8.2 per nine innings) in his first full pro season. He followed up in 2016 by dominating high Class A hitters in the first half but got hit harder following a mid-June promotion to Double-A.

Howard now works at 91-94 mph and touches 96 mph with a fastball that had quality sink in the past, though his groundout/airout ratio shrunk from 1.6 in his first two seasons to 0.7 in his third. His deceptive changeup with fade is the main reason he has been more successful against righties than lefties. He’s working to improve his slider to improve that imbalance, and he’ll flash some solid ones on occasion.

Howard has thrown strikes throughout his pro career, though he learned in a rough pro debut and again in Double-A that he’ll get punished if he leaves pitches up in the strike zone. That will be especially true at Coors Field. If he can refine his slider and his command, he could contribute in the back half of Colorado’s rotation in the not-too-distant future.

I had no idea that the young man can run his fastball up to 96 mph! That’s, obviously, pretty impressive.

I imagine Sam will be joining the list of major league alumni from the league very soon!

Sam Howard pitching

Sam pitching in Hartford