#7 Starting Pitcher: Grant Suponchick, Waynesboro

Grant Suponchick Nebraska Omaha 2017The 7th best starting pitcher is not only the second pitcher on this list from Waynesboro, but also the second pitcher from Nebraska Omaha as well!  Grant Suponchick, our #7, made quite the dynamic duo with #10, his teammate both in Waynesboro and Omaha, Payton Kinney.

Here are the stats that Suponchick put up for the Generals:

Way ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 2.57 2 3 8 7 35.0 37 18 10 5 21 0.253 1.200 1.3 5.4
Play 2.57 1 0 1 1 7.0 8 2 2 2 4 0.296 1.429 2.6 5.1

Grant pitched the clinching game against the Turks in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

In the regular season, out of the pitchers considered for this list, Grant finished 5th in ERA, 8th in batting average, 5th in WHIP, and 1st in BB/9, with a ridiculous 5 walks in 35 innings pitched. His best game was on June 12th, against Purcellville, when he threw 5 no-hit, shutout innings while allowing 1 walk and striking out 4.

Grant has been a two-way player at Nebraska, putting up a 293/368/371 slash line over 280 at-bats in his freshman and sophomore year, but because he only got 37 regular season at-bats for the Generals, let’s focus on his pitching in college:

N-O ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K WHIP BB/9 K/9
2016 8.71 0 2 4 2 10.3 15 10 10 6 2 2.039 5.2 1.7
2017 8.44 0 4 17 6 42.7 60 42 40 15 24 1.756 3.2 5.1

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Grant!

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 6.08.45 PM

 

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#10 Starting Pitcher: Payton Kinney, Waynesboro

Payton Kinney NEbraska Omaha 2017The 10th best starting pitcher in the 2017 Valley League season is Waynesboro’s Payton Kinney!

Payton, a 6-foot-3, 215 pound righthander from Nebraska-Omaha, put up the following statline for the Generals:

Way ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WHIP BB/9 K/9
2017 3.40 4 0 9 7 37.0 38 20 14 12 32 0.260 1.351 2.9 7.8
Play 1.00 1 0 1 1 9.0 6 1 1 1 4 0.212 0.778 1.0 4.0

Of the pitchers considered for this list, Payton finished 9th in ERA, tied for 7th in strikeouts, 10th in batting average against, 8th in BB/9, and tied for 6th in K/9. His best start was the playoff start you see above, which was against Harrisonburg on July 29th. He also threw 6 shutout, one-hit innings against the Turks on June 14th. He was named 2nd team All-Valley.

Here are his college stats:

ERA W L G GS IP H R ER BB K BAVG WIP BB/9 K/9
2017 3.88 3 3 16 3 51.0 39 25 22 31 56 0.204 1.373 5.5 9.9
2016 5.40 4 4 11 7 41.7 44 34 25 18 62 1.487 3.9 13.4
2015 4.17 8 2 14 12 69.0 71 47 32 22 52 1.348 2.9 6.8

Payton redshirted in 2014, and spent 2015 and 2016 at Southeast Community College, a junior college in Nebraska.

Congratulations on your excellent summer, Payton!

Payton Kinney Nebraska Omaha 2017

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

#10 Hitter: McClain Bradley, Waynesboro

Bradley McClain Wofford 2017The truth is, it took ATVL half the summer to figure out if this young man is named “McClain Bradley” or “Bradley McClain.” The one thing that can not be denied, though, is that McClain had a fantastic summer in the Valley for Waynesboro. (McClain is his first name, by the way.)

The 5-11 junior from Wofford was a mainstay in the General lineup. Here are his 2017 stats:

VBL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2017 39 153 31 55 9 3 2 18 16 26 20 9 0.359 0.415 0.497
Play 4 16 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0.250 0.250 0.250

After flirting with a .400 average for some of the summer, he ended up finishing 7th in batting average, 10th in OPS, 5th in total bases, tied for 4th in triples, tied for 10th in doubles, tied for 4th in hits, and 8th in runs. He was named All-Valley 2nd team in the outfield. He was named hitter of the day once, on June 9th, after going 5-5, with 2 runs, 2 RBIs, a double, and a stolen base.

What’s been another positive aspect of McClain’s college career so far is his improvement each year. In 2016, he played for Florence in the Coastal Plains League. Here is his line:

CPL G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2016 29 94 16 23 2 2 1 11 5 21 11 13 0.245 0.297 0.340

As you can see, he improved his numbers across the board from one summer to the next. But he’s also improved greatly each college season at Wofford:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS Avg OBP SLG
2015 12 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 0.000 0.111 0.000
2016 56 216 28 68 12 4 1 30 23 49 20 8 0.315 0.379 0.421
2017 43 170 48 62 15 1 8 35 21 35 17 5 0.365 0.437 0.606
Tot. 111 394 77 130 27 5 9 65 45 90 37 13 0.330 0.399 0.492

It’s impossible to judge a player on 8 at-bats, but even with throwing out 2015, look at McClain’s improvement the next two years. From 2016 to 2017, he raised his batting average 50 points, his OBP 58 points, and his slugging an amazing 185 points. If this trend continues, he is due a monster senior season!

Congratulations on your excellent summer, McClain!

McClain Bradey Wofford batting

McClain batting for Wofford

Bradley McClain

McClain running the 60 at the All-Star game (ATVL)

Erik Kratz Sold to Yankees

The Cleveland Indians have sold Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) to the New York Yankees.
 
Big Erik was having quite a good year for Triple-A Columbus, not only hitting a bit, but throwing out 37% of runners attempting to steal, and also framing well.
 
Erik has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre for the time being, but the thought is that he will join the big league club when/if Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are suspended for their roles in the brawl with Detroit.
 
Oddly, Erik joins another catcher in Scranton with ties to theValley League. One of the other backstops is none other than Eddy Rodriguez, who played in Luray in 2005 and 2006. (And gave my daughter a baseball in New Market in 2006, in the process becoming her favorite player.)
 
If Erik is called up, he will also join another former Valley Leaguer- Brett Gardner, who played in New Market in 2003 and 2004.
 
(Erik is also a friend of ATVL, for full disclosure. He did a huge interview with this page back in 2006- you can read them here and here)
(Also see more on this deal here)
Erik Kratz throwing

Tom Sox Named Summer Team of the Year, and Other Awards

In an absolute first in the history of the league, the Charlottesville Tom Sox have been named the best summer league team in the nation by Perfect Game!

Another media outlet, the website Collegiate Summer Baseball, in what seems like an impossible task, has ranked the top summer league teams from one to thirty. The Tom Sox finished 2nd on this list, behind the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League.

Perfect Game also named their summer All-Americans, and two 2017 VBLers made the lists, while one 2016 alum did as well.

  • Of course, Michael Wielansky (Charlottesville) was named to the first team at 2nd base.
  • Brandon Quaranta (Strasburg) was named to the 2nd team at utility.
  • Zach Neff (Waynesboro 2016) was named to the 1st team at starting pitcher. Zach, from Austin Peay, played in the Coastal Plains League. He went 7-0, 1.45, with 2 saves, 34 hits, 7 walks, and 65 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings pitched. ATVL named Zach the top relief pitcher in the Valley in 2016.

Charlottesville Team Shot resized

League Record Book: Slugging Percentage

Our latest entry in the league record book from 2004-2017 is slugging percentage. Let’s get right to it…

1 Zach Sterry Waynesboro 2016 0.745
2 Tyler Townsend Winchester 2008 0.739
3 Jon Love Front Royal 2004 0.731
4 Mac Williamson Harrisonburg 2011 0.706
Joseph Odom Winchester 2012 0.706
6 Jimmy Yezzo Winchester 2012 0.679
7 Ryan Sullivan Covington 2012 0.676
8 Steve McQuail Front Royal 2009 0.669
9 Collin Cowgill Covington 2005 0.659
10 Bradley Picha Winchester 2012 0.657
Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 0.657

Zach Sterry had an MVP season in 2016; his name is peppered all over the record book. No one from 2017 reached the threshold, although Trevin Esquerra (Purcellville) ended with a .655 slugging percentage- pretty darn close.

Major Leagues: Mac Williamson, Collin Cowgill
Current minor leaguers: Zach Sterry, Joseph Odom
Previous minor leaguers: Tyler Townsend, Jimmy Yezzo, Steve McQuail, Julian Ridings
No affiliated ball: Jon Love, Ryan Sullivan, Bradley Picha

Waynesboro (2): Sterry, Ridings
Winchester (4): Townsend, Odom, Yezzo, Picha
Front Royal (2): Love, McQuail
Harrisonburg (1): Williamson
Covington (2): Sullivan, Cowgill

Zach Sterry Oakland

Sterry with Oakland