Now that “final” rosters have been set, it’s time to take a look at the Valley Leaguers who will be going North (or East? West?) with their big league club!
- Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (Luray 2004-05): Murphy is a good place to start, as he’s been, probably, the most “notable” alumnus in the past few years. Daniel slashed 322/384/543 in 2017, along with 94 runs, 93 RBIs, 43 doubles (led the NL), and 23 home runs. He earned 2.8 WAR (according to baseball-reference.com). Daniel had knee surgery in October, so it is unlikely that he will start the year active, but when he returns, he will again be a major run producer for the Nationals.
- Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (New Market 2003-04): Projected (by some) to bat leadoff for the new version of the Bronx Bombers, look for Brett to score a ton of runs in 2018. Last season, he hit 264/350/428, scored 96 runs, hit 21 home runs, and stole 23 bases. 4.9 WAR! (Did you know that Brett is 34 years old?!?)
- Chris Devenski, Houston Astros (Woodstock 2011): Coming off a World Series title with the Astros in 2017, Devenski will again be an important arm in the back end of Houston’s bullpen. He went 8-5, 2.68, with a 0.942 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.
- Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07): Jason struggled with injuries last season, but he’s healthy and ready to man second base for the Tribe. He hit 232/291/414 in 2017, with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs.
- Yonder Alonso, Cleveland Indians (Luray 2006): Coming off a career year, Yonder signed with the Indians as a free agent in the offseason (for 2 years and $15 million, and a club $9 million option for 2020). Yonder slashed 266/365/501 for the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners last season, with 72 runs, 67 RBIs, and 28 home runs.
- Chad Kuhl, Pittsburgh Pirates (New Market 2012): Chad spent all of 2017 in the Pirates’ rotation, starting 31 games overall, and going 8-11, 4.35, with a 1.468 WHIP. He’s projected as Pittsburgh’s #2 starter for 2018.
- Will Harris, Houston Astros (Staunton 2003): Another crucial arm in the Astros’ bullpen, Will went 3-2, 2.98, with a 0.971 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings.
- Jon Jay, Kansas City Royals (Staunton 2004): One of the players squeezed in free agency this offseason, Jay signed a one-year contract for $3 million with the Royals. For the Cubs in 2017, Jay hit 296/374/375 in 379 at-bats.
- Emilio Pagan, Oakland A’s (Harrisonburg 2010): Emilio made his major league debut in 2017 for the Seattle Mariners, and with his performance, looks like he’ll be in the majors for a long time. Oakland traded for him in November, and he looks to have a spot nailed down in the A’s bullpen. In 2017, he went 2-3, 3.22, with 56 strikeouts and a 0.934 WHIP in 50 1/3 innings. (He’s projected to do nearly the exact same thing in 2018)
- Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres (Winchester 2010): Cory will most likely have a bench role for the Padres this season- perhaps as a super sub, since he can play in the infield and the outfield. He hit 264/322/401 in 444 at-bats in 2017, along with 18 doubles and 13 home runs.
- Tommy La Stella, Chicago Cubs (Haymarket 2009): Tommy will be a bat off the bench for the Cubs, after hitting 288/389/472, with 8 doubles and 5 home runs in 125 at-bats. (I think Tommy is a very valuable pinch hitter)
- Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins (New Market 2000): Brad really struggled in 2017, but he’s a bounce back candidate for the Marlins. He’ll close to start the season, assuming the Marlins win any games. In 2017, he went 1-4, 4.79, with 10 saves and a 1.553 WHIP in 47 innings.
- Cliff Pennington, Cincinnati Reds (Harrisonburg 2003): Cliff signed a minor league deal as a free agent with the Reds in the offseason, but will be a bench player in the majors, as he can play multiple positions in the infield. He hit 253/306/330 in 194 at-bats in 2017.
- Ryan Yarbrough, Tampa Bay Rays (Luray 2012): I wrote about Ryan a couple days ago, and gave him a 99% chance to pitch in the majors this season after his dynamite 2017 season in Triple-A… well, he’s earned a spot on the staff to start the year! I’ll post more on Ryan when he makes his debut.
So that’s a total of 14 former VBLers who have made opening day rosters!
Here are some other players who have already played in the major leagues, and are likely/possible/potential call ups during the season:
- Robby Scott, Boston Red Sox (Covington 2010), left handed reliever
- Ryan Schimpf, Atlanta Braves (Luray 2008), 2B-3B
- Adam Liberatore, Los Angeles Dodgers (Waynesboro 2007-08), left handed reliever
- Josh Edgin, Baltimore Orioles (Winchester 2007), left handed reliever
- Tyler Thornburg, Boston Red Sox (Winchester 2008), right handed reliever. Tyler had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in June of 2017.
- Drew Rucinski, Miami Marlins (Luray 2008-10), right handed reliever
- Alex Wimmers, Miami Marlins (Luray 2008), right handed reliever
- Eric Campbell, Miami Marlins (Luray 2006), 1B
- Tyler White, Houston Astros (Haymarket 2010), 1B
- Collin Cowgill, Philadelphia Phillies (Covington 2005), OF
- Jack Leathersich, Cleveland Indians (Haymarket 2009), left handed reliever- Jack was just scooped up by the Indians off of waivers from the Pirates, and assigned to Triple-A Columbus
- Kyle McGrath, San Diego Padres (Staunton 2011), left handed reliever
- Mac Williamson, San Francisco Giants (Harrisonburg 2011), OF
- Max Povse, Seattle Mariners (Staunton 2013), right handed pitcher
- Austin Adams, Washington Nationals (Staunton 2011), right handed reliever
Stay tuned; ATVL will keep everyone updated when players are called up, either for the first time or tenth time!