#9 Reliever: Thomas Nicoll, Strasburg

Thomas Nicoll Florida AMThe 9th best reliever in the 2017 Valley League season is Strasburg’s Thomas Nicoll!

The 6-foot righthander, a senior at Florida A&M, put up the following stats for the Express last summer:

Stras ERA W L G SV IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 1.92 0 2 10 0 18.7 16 11 4 5 22 0.222 1.123 2.4 10.6

Of pitchers surveyed for this list, Thomas finished 8th in BB/9. His best game was probably his first, when he threw 3 shutout innings against the New Market Rebels on June 3rd.

Thomas spent his first two college seasons at Tallahassee Community College before transferring to Florida A&M in 2017:

ERA W L G SV IP H R ER BB K WIP BB/9 K/9
2015 5.04 1 2 11 0 30.3 39 26 17 14 22 1.749 4.2 6.5
2016 3.65 6 0 19 0 37.0 33 19 15 20 37 1.432 4.9 9.0
2017 3.24 3 3 24 3 41.7 40 20 15 16 36 1.343 3.5 7.8

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Thomas!

Thomas Nicoll high school

Thomas from a few years ago…

Advertisements

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).

A Couple Quick Hits

The end of my basketball season has come and gone, which means a week of utter collapse, and then getting back to work.

We’ll start the process of returning to work by taking a quick look at a couple stories that have come across my desk in one way or another in the past couple week…

[In 2007], He was the ACC Player of the Year, first team All-ACC and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and Brooks Wallace Award the same season.

During his career, Thomas became the first Seminole to register 30 doubles, 100 hits and 30 stolen bases in a single season.  He finished that junior campaign with 33 doubles, which tied for the second most in a single-season at FSU.

Thomas led the ACC in batting average with a.430 mark while ranking first in six other offensive categories as junior.  He also finished among the Top 10 in four other categories enroute to earning consensus All-America honors.

Thomas’ 14 career triples are still the fourth most in school history.

Tony was drafted by the Cubs in the third round in 2007, spent 9 years in the minors in affiliated baseball, and now two years in Independent ball. Tony appears in the all-time minor league record book in the categories of doubles (tied for 13th), triples (3rd), and stolen bases (18th).

While Tony fell just a little bit short of the major leagues (he played in 164 Triple-A games), he has made a career for himself while playing baseball, which is much more than most of us can claim.

Taylor has also done what probably seemed like an internship with ATVL; a few years ago (when she was still a college student, I believe) she helped me with the statistics for park factors for a past Valley League season. Maybe 2012? She very cheerfully saved me dozens of hours of work.

Congratulations, Taylor!

Clint has had an illustrious minor league career- he’s on the all-time minors record book list for runs (12th), hits (7th), doubles (4th), home runs (3rd), RBIs (5th), and walks (13th). He has played in 1,053 minor league games since he was drafted in 2007, and appeared in 243 major league games as well.

  • The Express are also doing something fun in the offseason- reports uploaded to youtube! Kyle Gutshall, the broadcaster extraordinaire, posted the first one on November 18th. Good stuff!

A Short Discussion on the Relievers

It’s time for the relievers.

And as usual, the ranking process for this list was ridiculous. Let’s be clear- each and every reliever that will be listed over the next month had a very good Valley League season in 2017. But it’s still almost impossible to rank them, because many of them were very, very good at one aspect, but not all of them. (In other words, for example, maybe a pitcher walked almost no one, but their WHIP was higher, or struck out everyone, but walked too many…)

So ATVL did his level best to rank the top 15 relievers of the 2017 season. He used ERA, batting average against, WHIP, BB/9, and K/9, and innings pitched mattered, too (as will be discussed below). And votes for pitcher of the year mattered as well…..

There is a group of relievers who were excellent, but who will not be listed- all because of a lack of innings pitched in relief during the regular season. So ATVL will give them a mention here, so at least they get a (brief) moment in the sun….

Israel Fuentes, Waynesboro, from Faulkner University: Israel pitched in 3 games from June 22 through July 3rd, going 0-0, 0.00, with a 0.519 WHIP, 1.2 BB/9, and 7.0 K/9 over 7 2/3 innings.

Andrew Mahoney, Waynesboro, from Mississippi State: Andrew also pitched in only 7 2/3 innings, weirdly, in the same time frame as Fuentes: Mahoney pitched on June 27th and July 1st. He went 2-0, 0.00, with a 0.649 WHIP, 1.2 BB/9, and 11.7 K/9.

Christopher Farish, Harrisonburg, from Wake Forest: Christopher went 1-1, 2.16 in 7 games, with 2 of them starts. He threw 25 innings, with 13 of them as a starter. He ended with a 1.200 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, and 12.2 K/9. Perfect Game named him the 8th best prospect in the league.

Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg, from Philadelphia University: Brandon is best known as the masher in the middle of the Express lineup- the hitter who was named ATVL’s 2nd best hitter in the entire league in 2017. Brandon also pitched some in 2017; he threw 8 2/3 relief innings, going 0-0, 1.58, with a 0.973 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, and 11.2 K/9.

Nathan Pawelczyk, New Market, from Winthrop: Nathan turned heads in 2017; he was named 2nd team All-Valley as a relief pitcher, and Baseball America named him the 6th best prospect in the league. Nathan went 3-0, 0.55, with a 0.982 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, and 12.7 K/9, but he only pitched 10 1/3 innings as a reliever, and 6 innings as a starter.

Rick Spiers, Charlottesville and Randolph Macon: Rick pitched 23 innings in 2017, but only 7 of them as a reliever. He was fantastic overall, going 4-0, 0.78, with a 0.783 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and 10.6 K/9. In fact, he was on the mound when the Tom Sox won the deciding third game of the championship series.

 

 

#1 Starter: Zach Peek, Strasburg

Here we are, finally at the top of the starter’s list! Before we start the discussion about this year, let’s take a look at the #1 starters over the last 10 years…

2016- Erne Valdes, Front Royal
2015- Hayden McCutcheon, Charlottesville
2014- Keegan Long, Front Royal
2013- Ricky Winters, Woodstock
2012- Jansen Carr, Winchester
2011- Aaron Luchterhand, Harrisonburg
2010- Greg Nappo, Haymarket
2009- Grant Sasser, Haymarket
2008- Drew Rucinski, Luray
2007- Dustin Umberger, Luray

The only major leaguer on this list (so far) is Drew Rucinski, who has pitched in 9 games at the major league level over three different seasons.

Zach Peek Winthrop 2017

This year? The top starter in the 2017 Valley League season is Strasburg’s Zach Peek, from Winthrop!

Here are Zach’s numbers in both the regular season and his one start in the playoffs (which he returned for, by the way. Zach had left the Express earlier, but returned because the team desperately needed another arm.)

Stras ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 1.80 4 1 9 6 35.0 25 7 7 6 40 0.200 0.886 1.5 10.3
Play 7.20 0 1 1 1 5.0 5 5 4 4 4 0.250 1.800 7.2 7.2

Among the pitchers considered for this list, Zach finished 2nd in ERA, 3rd in strikeouts, tied for 1st in batting average against, 1st in WHIP, 2nd in K/9, and 2nd in BB/9. Zach was named first team All-Valley at starting pitcher, and the two outlets, Baseball America and Perfect Game, noticed his electric arm. BA named him the top prospect in the league, while PG named him #2.

Zach’s best start was June 12th against Covington, when he threw 6 shutout innings while allowing only 2 hits, 0 walks, and struck out 6. His game score, 74, tied for the 5th best in the entire season.

The current sophomore put up the following numbers in his first season pitching in college, after which he was selected as Freshman of the Year by Perfect Game USA:

Win ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 3.70 5 1 24 5 56.0 52 29 23 21 42 0.242 1.304 3.4 6.8

I think it’s safe to say that great things are expected of Zach and his right arm. He surpassed (or equalled?) expectations in the Valley League in 2017, and has a bright future!

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Zach!

Zach Peek Winthrop mound 2017.png

#4 Starting Pitcher: Ben Dum, Strasburg

Benjamin Dum 2018 VCUIt’s common sense, I think, that if a Valley League team has important returning players from the year before, that it may give them a leg up, so to speak, on the competition.

The 2017 Strasburg Express are a classic example. First of all, they had Brandon Quaranta, a huge bat in the middle of the lineup, return, but having starting pitcher Ben Dum, from VCU, return was just as crucial to the team’s success.

Ben, like you might expect, turned in another outstanding campaign in 2017, helping to lead the Express to the cusp of another title.

Here are Ben’s stats for the past two seasons in the Valley:

Stras ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2016 1.42 4 0 7 7 38.0 27 7 6 6 32 0.200 0.868 1.4 7.6
Play 2.29 2 0 2 2 15.7 10 5 4 4 7 0.175 0.892 2.3 4.0
2017 2.77 5 2 9 7 45.3 44 17 14 9 39 0.247 1.170 1.8 7.7
Play 2.84 0 0 2 2 12.7 12 6 4 4 13 0.231 1.260 2.8 9.2
Total 2.26 11 2 20 18 111.7 93 35 28 23 91 1.038 1.9 7.3

As you can see, Ben has been an outstanding pitcher over the last two years.

He was ATVL’s #2 starting pitcher after his ’16 season, and was All-Valley first team. He was named to the VL 1st team in 2017, too, and although he fell two spots on ATVL’s list, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a crucial piece of the Express success.

In 2017, on the list of pitchers considered for this list, Ben finished 7th in ERA, 1st in IP, tied for 4th in strikeouts, 7th in batting average against, 4th in WHIP, tied for 3rd in BB/9, and 8th in K/9. His best start was on July 11th at Covington, when he threw 5 shutout innings, along with 3 hits, 1 walk, and six strikeouts.

But take a look at his career stats! He’s gone 11-2, 2.26 in 20 games (18 starts) and 111 2/3 innings, with a WHIP at 1.038, 1.9 BB/9, and 7.3 K/9. Amazing!

The 6-foot, 185-pound right hander is a current junior at VCU. Here are his stats for the past two college seasons:

VCU ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2016 10.29 0 3 8 6 21.0 26 26 24 16 10 0.325 2.000 6.9 4.3
2017 3.83 3 1 24 1 44.7 47 22 19 11 27 0.269 1.298 2.2 5.4

His numbers took a pretty large jump forward in 2017. I would watch for Ben to make his team’s starting rotation in 2018, and have an excellent college season!

Congrats on your amazing two seasons in the Valley League, Ben!

Ben Dum Strasburg 2017 vs Win resized

Ben pitching against Winchester on August 4th

 

#8 Starting Pitcher: Dylan Hall, Strasburg

Dylan Hall Virginia TechThe 8th best starting pitcher in the 2017 VBL season is Strasburg’s Dylan Hall, from Virginia Tech!

Dylan was one of the (admittedly many) reasons that the Express came within a game of a third straight Jim Lineweaver trophy. Let’s take a look…

Stras ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 3.34 2 1 9 6 35.0 32 17 13 13 35 0.239 1.286 3.3 9.0
Play 0.00 2 0 3 2 12.7 10 1 0 10 10 0.208 1.575 7.1 7.1

Of the pitchers considered for this list, Dylan finished 8th in ERA, 10th in innings pitched, 6th in K’s AND batting average, 9th in WHIP, 10th in BB/9, and 5th in K/9. After a solid regular season over 35 innings, Dylan then threw 12 2/3 playoff innings while allowing only 1 unearned run. His best start was in the playoffs, against New Market on July 30th, when he threw 5 shutout innings, while allowing 4 hits, 3 walks, and striking out 5.

Dylan, a Stafford, Virginia, native, is a current sophomore at Virginia Tech. Here are his stats for his freshman year, in which he threw 23 innings:

VT ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 7.04 1 1 17 0 23.0 29 23 18 10 20 0.312 1.696 3.9 7.8

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Dylan!

Dylan Hall Championship game resized

Dylan warming up before the deciding game of the 2017 championship series (ATVL)