Four Quick Transactions

I HAD AN ENTIRE POST READY WHICH JUST DISAPPEARED AFTER IT FAILED TO PUBLISH. THIS IS AN ABBREVIATED VERSION. Unhappy with WordPress right now.

As you know, Brilliant Reader, ATVL pays attention to the waiver wire, and keeps track of Valley League alumni who make debuts, are traded, released, or otherwise move teams of designations in the world of professional baseball.

I have four to report on at the moment… (not including Yonder Alonso, who got his own article on mlb.com)

  • Rico Noel (Covington 2008) has been signed by the Houston Astros, and assigned to Double-A Corpus Christi. Rico is an ATVL favorite because he’s…so…..FAST. He’s stolen 407 total bases over all levels since he was drafted. Anyway, Rico spent a couple months in the majors with the Yankees in 2015. He last played for Lancaster in the Independent Atlantic League (where he stole 34 bases in 38 attempts).
  • Randy Dobnak (Front Royal 2015) was signed by the Minnesota Twins and assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League. Randy pitched in 6 games for the Utica Unicorns (seriously) of the Independent United Shore League.
  • Matt Hockenberry (Woodstock 2013) was released by the Phillies. Matt couldn’t seem to solve Double-A Reading, although he didn’t get much chance to. Matt went 5-1, 2.51 in 89 2/3 innings in High-A, and 0-0, 14.73 in 7 1/3 Double-A innings. (Reading is a bandbox, too)
  • Collin Cowgill (Covington 2005) was released by the San Diego Padres. He played in the majors for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s, New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, and Cleveland Indians, putting up a 234/297/329 slash line and 4.0 WAR in 759 major league plate appearances. He’s been injured quite a bit this year; maybe he’ll get picked up by another organization.

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.

The Ridiculousness That is Mike O’Reilly

Mike O'Reilly Peoria 2017

Mike O’Reilly pitched in Woodstock back in 2014. He was very good in the VBL as a rising sophomore- in fact, ATVL named him the 10th best starter in the league.

Picked in the 27th round of the 2016 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike was sent to the Gulf Coast League, where he pitched very well. He finished 3-1, 2.48 in 40 innings, with 35 hits allowed, only 5 walks, and 38 strikeouts. He was a finalist for ATVL’s short season pitcher of the year award (which went to Jordan DeLorenzo (Front Royal 13)).

Mike was assigned to low-A Peoria of the Midwest League to start 2017, and what he’s done so far this season is almost off the charts. At this point, after his incredible start on Monday night (July 10), Mike has 3 of the top 4 minor league starts by all Valley League alumni all season. Let’s take a look:

  • July 10, game score of 104: complete game shutout, 1 hit, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts
  • May 20, game score of 96: 8 1/3 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
  • June 7, game score of 91: complete game shutout, 2 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Overall, he’s 8-2, 1.56, with a 0.67 WHIP in 80 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 44 hits, 10 walks, and struck out 79. That’s juuuust about an 8-to-1 K-to-BB ratio.

Baseball America has mentioned Mike a couple times, and they make sure to say that Mike doesn’t have the best “stuff” in the system, as he works 88-90 with his fastball. To be sure, Mike has a long way to go, but we just can’t argue with these results.

I would expect Mike to make the jump to High-A very soon, as he honestly doesn’t have anything left to prove at the Low-A level.

Mike O'Reilly Peoria July 10 2017

 

Results from Friday July 7

I’m still waiting for Pointstreak to get their servers back online. This means that I can write up the games I could access last night, but not the New Market vs Woodstock game, which wasn’t updated until long after the game was over anyway. A comedy of errors, it seems. Back up and running. Here we go….

Results

Strasburg 2, Winchester 1 (Walk-off)
Waynesboro 7, Staunton 5
New Market 8, Woodstock 2 (Rebs score 6 in 10th)
Charlottesville-Purcellville postponed

Hitter of the Day

Richard Miller Towson 2017Our HOD is Staunton’s Richard Miller, from Towson! Richard went 3-5, with 2 runs, an RBI, and a home run against Waynesboro. He’s hitting 314/393/392 in 102 at-bats this summer for the Braves.

Others of Note

McClain Bradley, Waynesboro: 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, HR
Joseph Estrada, Waynesboro: 3-4, run, 2B
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-5, run, RBI, HR, SB
Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg: Walk-off HR in bottom of the 9th
Nick Barber, New Market: 2-4, 2 runs, BB, 3 SB
Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 2-4, run, BB, 2B
Jacob Reimold, Woodstock: 2-3, RBI, BB

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Woodstock’s Gavin Rogers, making his 2nd appearance in the league. From Gavin Rogers West Alabama 2017West Alabama, Gavin threw 6 shutout innings in relief while allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 6. He now has thrown 8 innings this summer, without allowing a run.

Others of Note

Benjamin Dum, Strasburg: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K’s
Daniel Rivero, Staunton: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K’s (58)
Daniel Collins, Winchester: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K’s

Saturday’s Games

Front Royal at New Market
Harrisonburg at Covington
Purcellville at Winchester
Waynesboro at Charlottesville
Woodstock at Staunton

Want to Know Where Current Pro Players Are From?

What a terrible title, but we’re going with it.

I’ve started working on a new project, one I should finish this weekend- I’m listing all pro players, both current and “retired,” by Valley League team (and within that, by season).

It’s always been fascinating to me to have this conversation- which teams have the most pro players? I was having a conversation with Staunton’s Steve Cox about a week ago, and I mentioned the 2006 New Market Rebels- the team that went 32-10 in the regular season. Right away, we were naming players from that squad- Joey Butler, Brandon Dickson, Gerard Haran….

So I was able to enter the current pro players yesterday, and I noticed something- some teams have tons of alumni playing, while others….. do….. not.

So I had to count them, of course. Ready? (By the way, I did not count Indy Ball players, OR foreign players)

  1. Harrisonburg Turks- 34
  2. Staunton Braves- 24
  3. Front Royal Cardinals- 19 (Hunter Newman was just released- bummer)
  4. Purcellville/Charles Town Cannons- 16
  5. Waynesboro Generals- 15
  6. Luray Wranglers and Winchester Royals- 14
  7. Haymarket/Aldie Senators- 12
  8. Covington Lumberjacks and Woodstock River Bandits- 10
  9. New Market Rebels and Strasburg Express- 8
  10. Charlottesville Tom Sox- 4

A couple thoughts here. First, Strasburg came into existence in 2011, and Charlottesville in 2015. Their numbers are smaller, most probably, for that reason.

Not to be too critical, but the number from New Market, Covington, and Woodstock is a little bit shocking. When you see Haymarket/Aldie with more even though the team folded after 2015….

And Luray still has 15 active, even though they were sold and moved after the 2012 season.

Of course, this can change very quickly- in fact, any of these teams could have free agents signed at any time.

Thoughts? Get a thread going!

Results from Saturday, July 1

Scores

Woodstock 7, Purcellville 2
Harrisonburg 3, Staunton 1
Charlottesville 9, Covington 0
New Market 11, Strasburg 3
Waynesboro 9, Front Royal 8 (GEnerals scored 2 in the 8th and 6 in the 9th to win this one)

Hitter of the Day

Nick Barber ECU 2017Our hitter of the day is New Market’s Nick Barber, from East Carolina! Nick went 3-4, with 3 runs, an RBI, walk, home run, and a stolen base against Strasburg. He’s now hitting 325/419/481 in 77 at-bats, and has hit in 9 straight games.

Others of Note

Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 3-5, run, 2 RBIs, 3B
Ty Andrus, Harrisonburg: 3-5, run, RBI
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-4, run, RBI, 2B, HR
Joseph Bellini, Waynesboro: 2-3, run, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 2B
Dylan Hardy, Front Royal: 2-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B
Philip Madonna, Strasburg: 2-3, BB
Michael Neustifter, New Market: 3-4, 3 runs, RBI, HR, SB
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 2-3, 3 RBIs, 2 BB
McClain Bradley, Waynesboro: 2-4, 2 runs, BB, 2B, 2 SB
Eric Jones, Charlottesville: 2-3, run, 4 RBIs, BB, 2 2B
Carson Spiers, Charlottesville: 1-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, BB

Pitcher of the Day

It’s Nick Fuchs, from Woodstock and Gannon, who threw the best start of the year so far Nick Fuchs Gannon 2017last night! Nick earned a game score of 83 with this line: 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 4 walks, and 11 strikeouts. He earned the win and a game score of 107. The next closest game score this summer has been a 76. Nick is now 3-1, 1.27, with 30 K’s in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Others of Note

Zachary Burch, Purcellville: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K’s (in relief)
Grant Stewart, Harrisonburg: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K’s (59)
Davis Kirkpatrick, Harrisonburg: 4 Ip, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K’s, win in relief
Derek Duffy, Staunton: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K’s (58)
Andrew Mahoney, Waynesboro: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K’s, win in relief
Mark Moclair, Front Royal: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K’s (73) (Enough to win most days)
Michael Dailey, Charlottesville: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K’s, win (66)
Preston Betz, Charlottesville: 3 Ip, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K’s

Sunday’s Games

Waynesboro at Covington
Staunton at Charlottesville
Woodstock at Strasburg
Winchester at Harrisonburg
Front Royal at New Market

Five Sign as Nondrafted Free Agents

Every year after the draft, dozens and dozens of undrafted players will be signed as free agents. Usually, their stay in professional baseball is pretty short, but sometimes a full-fledged career blossoms from this point. (See Brandon Dickson (New Market 2006), or Brandon Beachy (Woodstock 2008), or Robby Scott (Covington 2010))

ATVL will watch the lists of transactions to catch them, hopefully, but if you, Brilliant Reader, know of some that ATVL does not catch, send a message.

Here are the first five players that have been signed as free agents:

Walter Borkovich RHP Michigan State Atlanta Staunton 15
Tad Ratliff RHP Lenior-Rhyne Kansas City Charlottesville 15
Erven Roper C Charleston LA Angels Woodsock 14-5
Jose Carrera SS Manhattan NY Yankees Covington 14-6
Tyler Zombro RHP George Mason Tampa Bay Staunton 14

Ratliff, by the way, faced 6 batters in his pro debut…. and struck them all out.