Baseball America Top 100 Prospects

Baseball America publishes a list of their top 100 prospects each year, and have done so since 1990.

So, you know what I had to do, Brilliant Reader… here is every Valley League alumnus who has been named in the history of the BA 100 list!

1990-1997: None

1998: Mike Lowell, #71, 3B, New York Yankees (Waynesboro 1993)

1999: None

2000: Adam Everett, #76, SS, Houston Astros (Winchester 1996)
Aubrey Huff, #98, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (Staunton 1997)

2001: Jon Rauch, #4, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Harrisonburg 1998)
Aubrey Huff, #43

2002: Jon Rauch, #92

2003: Jon Rauch, #92

2004-2005: None

2006: Cliff Pennington, #83, SS, Oakland A’s (Harrisonburg 2003)

2007: None

2008: Chris Perez, #97, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Staunton 2004)

2009: Yonder Alonso, #35, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (Luray 2006)

2010: Yonder Alonso, #45

2011: Jason Kipnis, #54, 2B, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07)
Yonder Alonso, #73

2012: Yonder Alonso, #33
Cory Spangenberg, #78, 2B, San Diego Padres (Winchester 2010)

2013-2017: None

If I had to guess who will make the list in the coming year, I would say Nate Pearson (Staunton 2016) had a solid shot, especially with his velocity (he’s hit 100+ on the radar gun a number of times).

So, if you’re keeping score at home, 9 different players have been named a top 100 prospect. Two come from Harrisonburg, Winchester, and Staunton, and one comes from Waynesboro, Luray, and Covington. Every single one of the nine has had a nice career in the major leagues.

Mike Lowell Boston Red Sox

Mike Lowell with the Red Sox

The Top Hitters of 2017, An Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, we are just about to start the list of the top hitters in the Valley League in the 2017 season!

First of all, let’s talk about some parameters.

The first qualification is that each of these hitters has to be eligible for the batting title, which comes out to 2.7 plate appearances per team game. Harrisonburg’s Tony Beam and Waynesboro’s Malik Stephens, for example, had very good seasons in the Valley, but they did not reach the threshold.

Another thing to keep in mind: I am not making predictions about the future with any of these players. Why not? Because I DON’T KNOW. I AM NOT A SCOUT. I can’t tell you who has the smoothest swing or the fastest batspeed, or who is a lock to get drafted next June. I am going off of statistics only. I’ve been asked in the past, “Wouldn’t a list of the best hitters be better than just looking at the stats?” Yes, it would (I think). But I can’t do that, so I do what I am able. (Besides, Baseball America does the other kind of list, and lots of people are frustrated with them, too, because the “big names” get more attention than others, who might be performing better.)

With that said, I have had to parse some differences between players, as you might imagine. If I decided on just OPS (on-base plus slugging), then my list would be no different than what you could sort on the Valley League stat page. I try to use the whole package to rank the players. So I use batting average (the horror!), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and even counting numbers to determine where a player has landed. (So if a player didn’t play as much as someone else, that would matter to a certain extent.)

Also keep in mind that I do this to celebrate players, not to denigrate anyone else. These players are amateurs, and I have no interest in putting any of them down for whatever reason. This space is to celebrate the accomplishments of these young men.

Remember that this list is only one person’s opinion. You may rank your favorite player much higher than I have, and that’s fine. You may comment about your displeasure, of course (free country), but again, I will not denigrate a player in this space. If you would like to have a private discussion in my email or inbox about my reasons for picking one player over another, that’s cool. Do remember, though, that I have spent quite a bit of time ordering these lists. I’m satisfied with how they look.

Is all that clear?

So. I have listed who I believe are the top 16 hitters in the 2017 season (I couldn’t decide between the last two, so I decided to include them both). I will count them down from #15B all the way to #1, one at a time, over the next few weeks. After that, I will turn my attention to starting pitchers, and then to relievers.

Here are the hitters who were close to making the list, but fell just short (in alphabetical order):

  • Ty Andrus, Harisonburg: 348/413/374 in 155 at-bats, 54 hits, 29 runs, 11 RBIs, 2 triples, 17/9 BB/K, 10 SB
  • Zac Evers, Waynesboro: 283/366/520 in 127 at-bats, 24 runs, 19 RBIs, 8 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs, 15/39 BB/K, 17 SB
  • Jacob Hirsh, Strasburg: 318/431/449 in 107 at-bats, 30 runs, 14 RBIs, 3 doubles, 1 triples, 3 home runs, 18/21 BB/K, 10 SB
  • Jake Perry, Strasburg: 313/413/481 in 131 at-bats, 21 runs, 18 RBIs, 13 doubles, 3 home runs, 21/42 BB/K
  • Rick Spiers, Charlottesville: 333/391/487 in 117 at-bats, 28 runs, 19 RBIs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs, 10/24 BB/K, 8 SB
  • Chase Suddeth, New Market: 324/424/456 in 136 at-bats, 30 runs, 25 RBIs, 10 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs, 22/20 BB/K, 9 SB

MiLB Photos of the Week

Each week, MiLB.com posts a collection of cool photos from around the minor leagues. This week, former Wayneboro General Michael Brosseau (2015) was the subject of two photos- both taken by Steve Roberts/Bowling Green Hot Rods.

By the way, Michael has just been called up to Charlotte of the Florida State League- he played in his first game there last night.

Michael Brosseau Bowling Green Aug 3 2017Michael Brosseau Bowling Green Aug 4 2017

Two Named NY-Penn League All-Stars

Two former Valley Leaguers have been named to the New York-Penn League All-Star teams, released a few days ago. Both of these players were drafted in June, and are off to very good starts!

  • Ben Breazeale (Harrisonburg 2014) was named to the NYP South team. Ben was drafted in the 7th round in June, and plays for the Aberdeen Orioles. He’s hitting 361/466/521 in 144 at-bats, with 14 doubles, 3 home runs, and a solid 28/35 BB/K rate.
  • Ryan Gridley (Waynesboro 2015) was named to the North squad. Ryan was drafted this June in the 11th round by the Oakland A’s, and plays for the Vermont Lake Monsters. The Lake Monsters. Sigh. Anyway, he’s hitting 269/372/328 in 134 at-bats, with 8 doubles and a 20/18 BB/K rate.

Congrats to both!

 

Playoff Results, Saturday July 29

Three game ones were played last night, with the contest between Winchester and Purcellville rescheduled for tonight.

Scores

Waynesboro 2, Harrisonburg 1 (See my writeup here) (Generals up, 1-0)
Charlottesville 11, Staunton 2 (Tom Sox up, 1-0)
New Market 5, Strasburg 4 (Rebels score a shocking 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th, all unearned, all with 2 outs, to stun the Express) (Rebels up, 1-0)

Hitter of the Day

Ari Sechopoulos Charleston 2017Our HOD is Ari Sechopoulos, from Charlottesville and Charleston! Ari went 3-5 in the Tom Sox’s first p[layoff win in franchise history, with 2 runs, 3 RBIs, a double, and a home run.

Others of Note

Joe Lytle, Harrisonburg: 4-4, run, 3B
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: 2-3, 3 runs, RBI, BB, SF, SB
Vinnie Pasquantino, Charlottesville: 2-4, run, 2 2B, HBP
Eric Jones, Charlottesville: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B
Jeffrey Butler, Strasburg: 3-4, RBI
Philip Madonna, Strasburg: 3-3, RBI, BB
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, RBI, HR
Alec Aleywine, New Market: 3-5, run, RBI, 2B, 3B, SB
Chase Sudduth, New Market: walk off RBI single in the bottom of the 9th

Pitcher of the Day

Waynesboro’s Payton Kinney, from Nebraska-Omaha, threw a complete game against thePayton Kinney NEbraska Omaha 2017 Turks, allowing only 6 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and striking out 4. He earned a game score of 74.

Others of Note

Matt Young, Harrisonburg: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K’s, loss (62)
Justin Sorokowski, Charlottesville: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K’s, win (66)
Ben Dum, Strasburg: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K’s (66)

Tonight’s Games

Charlottesville at Staunton (God willing, I’ll be at this one)
Harrisonburg at Waynesboro
New Market at Strasburg
Winchester at Purcellville

Results from Tuesday July 25

Six games were played last night!

Scores

Purcellville 8, Woodstock 7 (10 innings)
Front Royal 7, Woodstock 1
Charlottesville 4, Harrisonburg 2
Strasburg 7, Covington 4
Staunton 6, Waynesboro 5
New Market 15, Winchester 6

Hitter of the Day

Richard Miller Towson 2017Our HOD is Staunton’s Richard Miller, from Towson, who went 2-4, with 3 runs, 3 RBIs, a walk, and 2 huge home runs. He’s now hitting 324/414/473 in 148 at-bats this summer, with 35 runs scored and 33 RBIs in 38 games.

Others of Note

Andrew Zban, Purcellville: 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, BB, HR
Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 3-5, run, 2 RBIs, SF
Christopher Jordan, Woodstock: 2-3, 2 runs, RBI, 2 BB
Kenny Bergmann, Front Royal: 2-3, run, 3 RBIs, 2B, HR
Will Heflin, Front Royal: 2-5, 2 runs, RBI, HR
Tripp Hamrick, Woodstock: 3-4, RBI
Blake Reese, New Market: 3-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 2B
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 4-5, 3 runs, 3 RBIs, BB
Jake Washer, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, 2B
Conner Corbitt, New Market: 3-6, run, RBI
Vinnie Pasquantino, Charlottesville: 1-3, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 3B
Haiden Lamb, Charlottesville: 3-4, RBI
Bryan Arias, Harrisonburg: 2-3, run, BB
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: 2-4, run, BB, 2B
Malik Stephens, Waynesboro: 3-5, run, 2 SB
Reid Long, Waynesboro: 2-4, run, RBI, BB, HR
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-4, run, BB, 2B
Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg: 3-4, run, 3 RBIs, 2B, HR
Jacob Hirsh, Strasburg: 4-5
Pablo Cabrera, New Market: 1-3, 3 runs, 2 BB

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Waynesboro’s Tyler Thompson, from Austin Peay! Tyler went 5 solid innings, Tyler Thompson Austin Peay 2017allowing only 1 hit, 1 unearned run, 3 walks, and recorded 7 strikeouts. His game score is 67. Tyler is now 1-2, 2.96, with 24 K’s in 30 1/3 innings this summer.

Others of Note

Will Heflin, Front Royal: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K’s, win (66)
Sean McCracken, Charlottesville: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K’s (I usually need 3 innings to include a pitcher here, but I was at the game when Sean pitched, and he mowed through these two innings in only 20 pitches. It was impressive.)
Austin Embler, Harrisonburg: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K’s (Also impressive- pitched at the same time as McCracken)
Lawson Humphries, Strasburg: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K’s, save (Since I included the other two…)
Nick Cottone, New Market: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s

Wednesday’s Games

Winchester at Charlottesville
Covington at Waynesboro
New Market at Purcellville (Rather large playoff implications here- Rebs can pull within a half game with a win)
Strasburg at Woodstock
Harrisonburg at Staunton (Braves can tie Turks with a win)

The Hunt for .400

I know, I know, batting average is an “old school” stat, and we should focus on newer stats, like WAR, or WPA, or OPS+. However, those stats are not available for the Valley League, one, and two, hitting .400 has a legendary place in the history of baseball. (I would LOVE to be able to calculate WAR for the VBL, but our defensive stats aren’t there yet.)

Quick- name the last hitter to hit .400 in the history of major league baseball.

Got it? You knew it, didn’t you? Ted Williams, 1941, .406. You might even know the last two seasons when hitters got really close. Think about it a bit- I’ll come back to it.**

Now, does anyone know who leads the all-time list of highest adjusted OPS+ in a single major league season? Forget the number, can anyone just name the player? If you can, kudos to you, but my guess is that not many of you know that Barry Bonds had an OPS+ of 268 in 2002, which is the highest single-season achievement in the entire history of baseball.

Hitting .400 has always been special, even if we think that the “specialness” is wearing off over time. So this morning I’ll take a quick look at the history of the league, at least since 2004, and who is making a run at this “hallowed” number this season.

First, the list of 6 players who have hit .400 in a Valley League season since 2004:

1 Brad Zebedis Strasburg 2011 0.420
2 Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 0.419
3 Luke Greinke Winchester 2007 0.417
4 Gunnar McNeill Staunton 2014 0.414
5 Shane Billings Harrisonburg 2015 0.406
6 Jordan Tarsovich Strasburg 2013 0.404

An impressive list, to be sure.

Now, what’s going on in 2017? Will we have our first .400 hitter since Billings in 2015?

The top four batting averages in the league right now are:

  1. Dominic Canzone, Front Royal: .418 (46-110)
  2. Bradley McClain, Waynesboro: .406 (43-106)
  3. Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: .398 (47-118)
  4. Danton Hyman, Woodstock: .380 (41-108)

I would say that all four of these players have a shot at joining the top 6, especially given the short VBL season. Even though Hyman is 20 points off right now, he has the speed to pick up a number of infield hits (historically, baseball analysts say that beating out those “dribblers” may make the difference in the end). And if Danton had just three more hits in those 108 at-bats, he would be hitting .407.

If I have the time, I may include a “race for .400” on my daily post, so we can keep tabs the rest of the way. Good luck to all 4!

** The last two highly-publicized shots at .400? Tony Gwynn, who hit .394 in 1994, and George Brett, who hit .390 in 1980.