2014 Winner: David Carpenter (Covington 2004)
2015 Winner: Will Harris (Staunton 2003)
Some baseball pundits claim that building a solid bullpen in the major leagues is as much about luck and stockpiling good arms than it is about planning. Will Harris seems to embody this idea. Will was quite good in Arizona in 2014, but not spectacular. When the ‘Backs tried to pass Will through waivers in early November (of 2014), Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow grabbed the 6-foot-4 righthander and added the former Staunton Brave to the bullpen mix for 2015.
It’s safe to say that Will became a major part of the Houston bullpen, to the point that he had the best year of any Valley League alumni in the major leagues. This is what Will did: 5-5, 1.90, with 2 saves in 68 games and 71 complete innings. He finished with a 0.90 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, and 8.6 K/9. He allowed only 64 baserunners in those 71 innings, while striking out 68. All that for “just” $513,900.
Luck? Or design? I’ll let you decide, brilliant reader. At any rate, Will Harris is the Valley League major league pitcher of the year for 2015!
Others to Consider
Brad Ziegler (New Market 2000): 0-3, 1.85, 30 saves, 0.96 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and 4.8 K/9 in 68 innings for the Diamondbacks (a very, very close second to Harris)
Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-08): 2-2, 4.24, 1.18 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.8 K/9 in 29 2/3 innings pitched for the Dodgers
Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008): 0-2, 3.67, 1.25 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 8.9 K/9 in 34 1/3 innings for the Brewers