#3 Hitter: Max Wood, Staunton

Max Wood Central Florida 2017

Our #3 hitter, Max Wood, was one of the most consistent hitters in the 2017 Valley League season. He started his season going 2-4 on June 10th, went 0-for his next seven, but then proceeded to get a hit in 27 of his last 29 games. This included ending his season on a 23-game hitting streak (including his two playoff games). While not the longest in history, he surely came close (at least two players had streaks of 25 games), and had the longest hitting streak in the 2017 season. He also had 18 multi-hit games to boot.

Let’s take a look at his overall stats in his regular season and playoffs:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 31 123 33 48 12 1 5 21 14 19 8 2 0.390 0.457 0.626
Play 2 8 1 3 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0.375 0.444 0.500

It should come as no surprise that Max was named first team All-Valley in the outfield with numbers like these. Overall, he finished 3rd in the league in batting average, 2nd in OPS, 3rd in OBP, 3rd in slugging percentage, 4th in total bases, tied for 3rd in home runs, 3rd in doubles, 10th in hits, and 7th in runs. He finished in the top 5 in 7 different categories!

His best game was probably on June 30th at Covington, when he was on base 6 times. He went 3-3, with a triple, home run, 3 walks, 3 runs, and 2 RBIs. The Braves won the game, 9-4.

Max’s performance caught the eyes of Perfect Game, too, as they named him the #7 prospect in the league.

Max has had a bit of an odd road to get here. Here are his first two years in college, at San Jacinto, and his 2017 season at Central Florida:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2015 51 139 41 46 5 2 6 41 15 15 13 2 0.331 0.406 0.525
2016 63 205 44 76 8 0 7 50 17 42 14 6 0.371 0.441 0.512
2017 23 23 3 3 0 0 0 4 2 9 0 0 0.130 0.222 0.130

He was named first team All-Conference in 2016 at San Jacinto, but then obviously had trouble breaking into CF’s lineup the next year. Pinch hitting is a tough gig, and Max went 3-23 in that role. With the summer he’s had, though, Max has proven that he’s a dynamic player, and hopefully will get more at-bats in his senior year!

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Valley Leaguers in the Playoffs

In 2015, Daniel Murphy, at 30 years old, reached the first postseason of his career. He proceeded to go off, hitting 7 home runs in his first 9 playoff games, until he cooled off in the World Series against the Royals. He exploded with a stretch of power that he had not really shown in his career to that point. I just could hardly believe it as I posted video after video of Murph going deep. It was quite a bit of fun, to say the least.

So we have to ask the question: Who might be Daniel Murphy this year? (Besides Daniel himself, obviously!)

Here are the players you can catch while watching the major league playoffs, starting Tuesday night!

  • Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (New Market 2003-4): Brett played in 151 games for the wild-card winning Yanks, hitting 264/350/428, and setting career highs in hits, home runs, and slugging percentage. He’ll most likely be starting in left field Tuesday night against Minnesota.
  • Erik Kratz, Yankees (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001): Erik was sold from the Cleveland Indians to the Yankees on August 31st. He appeared in 4 games, and appeared at bat twice (and got a hit both times). I don’t think that Erik will be on the postseason roster, but you may catch a glimpse of him in the dugout….
  • Robby Scott, Boston Red Sox (Covington 2010): Robby is probably a long shot to make the postseason roster, but he did appear in 56 games during the season, going 2-1, 3.93, and holding lefties to a 129/236/323 slash line in 62 at-bats. He may be a lefty out of the pen to get one out at some point….
  • Will Harris, Houston Astros (Staunton 2003): Will has been on the disabled list some this year, but I believe he’s healthy now. He went 3-2, 3.05 in 44 1/3 innings, along with 51 strikeouts and a 0.97 WHIP.
  • Chris Devenski, Astros (Woodstock 2011): The Dragon will most assuredly get some crucial innings for the Astros. He went 8-5, 2.68 in 80 2/3 innings, struck out exactly 100 batters, and had a 0.94 WHIP in the regular season.
  • Tyler White, Astros (Haymarket 2010): This one will be fascinating. Tyler has very quietly raked since he returned to the Astros September 2nd. He hit 298/349/561 in 57 at-bats, good for a 149 OPS+. Will he be a bat off the bench?
  • Jon Jay, Chicago Cubs (Staunton 2004): Jay played in 140 games for the Cubbies, putting up a slash line of 297/376/377. He’ll see important time in the playoffs.
  • Tommy La Stella, Cubs (Haymarket 2009): I am expecting La Stella to be an important lefthanded bat off the bench for the defending champs. In 123 at-bats, he hit 293/395/480.
  • Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07): Jason has had what must have been a frustrating season because of injuries. He is supposed healthy now, though, and the Indians have played him in center field some in the last few weeks to get his bat in the lineup. Will he start in center in the playoffs? Jason hit 234/291/416 in 334 at-bats during the regular season.
  • Adam Liberatore, Los Angeles Dodgers (Waynesboro 2007-08): Adam has also struggled with injuries this season. He pitched in only 4 games for the Dodgers; therefore, I would not expect him to be active in the postseason.
  • Austin Adams, Washington Nationals (Staunton 2011): Austin made his MLB debut for the Nats on July 15th. He pitched in 5 games and struck out 7 batters in 4 innings, but he also walked 6. I doubt he’ll be on the postseason roster.
  • Daniel Murphy, Nats (Luray 2006): Daniel has put in another awesome campaign. In 143 games and 531 at-bats, he has scored 93 runs, hit 43 doubles (leading the league), 23 home runs, and driven in 93 runs. He has a 136 OPS+. He will be starting at second base as long as the Nationals are alive.
Daniel Murphy plyoff home run

Murphy with a playoff home run for the Mets in 2015

Cyr, Povse Sent to Arizona Fall League

Each year, major league teams send a number of players to the Arizona Fall League, a sort of clearinghouse for prospects. It’s usually considered to be quite an honor, as teams often send their best to compete over the fall and winter.

Even though the season doesn’t start until October 10th, we can still celebrate two former Valley Leaguers who have been named by their organizations as participants in this year’s AFL:

  • Max Povse (Staunton 2013) has been sent by his parent organization, the Seattle Mariners, to the Peoria Javelinas. Max made his major league debut on June 22nd in 2017, but he gave up 9 hits and 3 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings for the Mariners. He fared much better in Double-A, going 3-2, 3.46, with 32 K’s in 39 innings. He also spent 31 2/3 innings in Triple-A Tacoma.
  • Tyler Cyr (Waynesboro 2014) spend 2017 plying his trade for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels in the San Francisco Giants system. He went 5-2, 2.19, with 18 saves and 57 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings pitched. He was assigned to the Surprise Saguaros.

Good luck to both pitchers! (ATVL will do his best to follow along…)

League Record Book: Stolen Bases

HERE we go! Did you know, Brilliant Reader, that a record was set in 2017? Perhaps, even, a record for the entire history of the league?

Let’s take a look:

SB Att
1 Jay Charleston Staunton 2017 39 41
2 Bobby Rauh Winchester 2009 37 41
3 Drew Martinez Luray 2009 36 37
4 Lammar Guy Covington 2009 35 44
5 Rico Noel Covington 2008 33 38
6 Brady Wilson Winchester 2011 32 34
Jay Gonzalez Harrisonburg 2011 32 38
8 Shane Justis Staunton 2004 31 33
Andy Perez Harrisonburg 2013 31 38
Justin Harris Charles Town 2014 31 37
Nick Sinay Front Royal 2014 31 40

Staunton’s Jay Charleston not only stole the most bases on this list, but he also had a 95% success rate!

Now, the reason the ATVL thinks this might be the highest total in one season in the whole history of the league is that Chaz Weaver, author of The Valley Baseball League: A History of Baseball in the Shenandoah Valley, lists the most stolen bases as 35, by Staunton’s Greg Ready in 1978. If that covers the total of the past, then Charleston has an all-time record!

Major leagues: Rico Noel
Previous minor leagues: Bobby Rauh, Drew Martinez, Shane Justis, Andy Perez
Current minor leagues: Jay Gonzalez, Nick Sinay, technically Rico Noel
No pro ball: Lammar Guy (played Indy ball), Brady Wilson (played Indy ball), Justin Harris (also Indy ball)
Still in college: Jay Charleston!

Jay Charleston Tennessee

Charleston at Tennessee

Lopez, Gigliotti Named Appy League All-Stars

Two former Valley Leaguers were named to the Appalachian League postseason All-Star team- Irving Lopez (Staunton 2016) and Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015).

  • Lopez, from Johnson City (since called up to State College), was named the best second baseman. He hit 287/378/433 in 50 games and 178 at-bats. He hit 7 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, and had a solid 19/25 BB/K ratio.
  • Gigliotti played in Burlington for 42 games before the Royals moved him up a slot to Low-A Lexington in the South Atlantic League. For Burlington, Michael hit 329/442/477 in 155 at-bats, with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, and an amazing 32/21 BB/K ratio. He went on to hit 302/378/419 in 86 at-bats at the next level, too.

Would you be interested in seeing the history of Appy League all-stars connected to the VBL? Of course you would!

2015- Patrick Mazeika, C, Kingsport (Waynesboro 2013)
2014- Jordan Edgerton, 3B, Danville (Woodstock 2013), Trey Cochran-Gill, RP, Pulaski (Harrisonburg 2012)
2013- Emilio Pagan, RP, Pulaski (Harrisonburg 2010) (Emilio was unscored upon in 20 1/3 innings at Pulaski)
2010- Marcus Nidiffer, 1B, Greeneville (Covington 2008-9)

#12 Hitter: Richard Miller, Staunton

Richard Miller Towson 2017Our 12th best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is the 5-11, 189 pound Richard Miller, from Staunton and Towson!

This is the very strong line Mr. Miller put up for the Braves (both regular season and playoffs):

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 40 155 37 51 1 3 5 35 23 29 10 2 0.329 0.418 0.471
Play 2 9 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 0 0 0.111 0.111 0.444

Richard finished in the top 10 in several hitting categories: 8th in walks, 8th in total bases, 2nd in RBIs, tied for 3rd in home runs, tied for 4th in triples, tied for 7th in hits, and 2nd in runs scored. I was surprised that he was not named to either the first or second All-Valley team, but he was probably squeezed out by position issues.

He also improved greatly from his freshman season to his sophomore campaign at Towson:

Tow G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2016 38 113 13 27 5 0 0 10 16 25 2 0 0.239 0.338 0.283
2017 51 180 25 49 6 3 3 34 24 39 0 1 0.272 0.356 0.389

Here’s to hoping that the sports management major will make another leap in his junior year. Congrats on your summer, Richard!

Richard Miller Staunton 2017 (NBC 29)

Miller after hitting a home run (NBC 29)

 

The Traveling Carper Family

One of the great things for me to watch when I go to Valley League games is the way young fans enjoy the game and the players. Valley League players, since they are in college, are pretty open to talking to fans, especially “little” ones.

But that can carry on, too. A few years ago, I went to a minor league game in Williamsport, and spent some time chatting with Daniel Morales, a former Harrisonburg Turk (in 2006).

Ethan Carper, and his dad, Matt, have had that kind of summer. Ethan was featured in a News-Leader article earlier this summer here, and is a huge Staunton Braves fan.) They’ve been traveling, visiting different minor league parks, and checking in with former Valley Leaguers along the way. Matt’s been sending me pictures along the way….

 

I love that all these young men took the time to pose with Ethan, and perhaps have a short conversation with him! This is what baseball looks like.