Team Pro Report: Harrisonburg Turks

Harrisonburg TurksI saved the biggest for last.

The Harrisonburg Turks, one of the flagship teams in the league, have the most players in pro ball- 21. (Just one more than the Braves, but still.)

This post is big enough, so let’s get to it already…

  1. Erik Kratz (2001), 29th round pick in 2002: Also in Waynesboro’s writeup. Erik has created quite the career for himself. A late pick out of a D-III school (Eastern Mennonite), Erik is now 37 years old, and is still playing at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has played in 978 minor league games and 228 major league games. He hit his 151st total home run on May 11th.
  2. Cliff Pennington (2003), 21st overall (1st round) in 2005: Cliff is tied for the 3rd highest draft pick (with Alex Wimmers) of all active players. Cliff has played in 971 major league games, putting up a slash line of 242/309/339, equalling about 10.4 career WAR. He went 4-29 for the Reds early in 2018, and was moved down to Triple-A Louisville. The latest news is that he was released by the Reds, but immediately signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers, and assigned to Triple-A Round Rock.
  3. Rayan Gonzalez (2009), 21st pick in 2012: Rayan missed the entire 2017 season to recover from Tommy John surgery. He has just been assigned to High-A Lancaster for rehab, and has pitched in 2 games so far in 2018. In his minor league career, he’s gone 9-16, 4.07, with a 1.51 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, and 10.2 K/9 in 210 total innings.
  4. Emilio Pagan (2010), 10th round pick in 2013: According to Teresa Wease, Emilio was a skinny teeanager when he played in Harrisonburg, but now he’s 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, and already has 46 major league games under his belt. He started 2018 in Oakland, but after struggling with home runs a bit, he was sent down to Triple-A Nashville. He was just called back to Oakland on Friday.
  5. Jay Gonzalez (2011), 10th round in 2014: Jay is a speedster; he’s stolen 127 minor league bases so far. He started out with the Orioles, but the Diamondbacks scooped him up in the Rule 5 draft last December. He was assigned to Double-A Jackson this year, and was off to a 350/435/450 start in 40 at-bats before getting injured. In his career, he’s slashing 266/369/331 in 1,392 at-bats.
  6. Mac Williamson (2011), 3rd round in 2012: Big Mac! Mac worked to retool his swing in the the offseason, and started crushing it in Triple-A Sacramento, earning a call-up to San Francisco, where he continued hitting for power…. and then ran head first into a retaining wall trying to catch a foul ball. He received a concussion on the play, and has been out for a while. He hit 3 home runs in his first 5 major league games this season. He was sent back to Sacramento on Friday for a rehab assignment… and he hit a home run, of course. Mac was ATVL’s 2012 short-season and the 2013 A-ball Hitter of the Year.
  7. Sarkis Ohanian (2012), 9th round pick in 2015: Sarkis is currently at Low-A Dayton in the Midwest League, but was also placed on the 7-day disabled list after a rough outing. Since being drafted, he advanced as far as High-A Daytona this year. In his pro career, he’s 7-6, 4.06, with 16 saves, a 1.224 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, and 14.3 K/9 in 99 2/3 innings. (He’s struck out 158 batters in those 99 innings!)
  8. Trey Cochran-Gill (2012), 17th round pick in 2014: Drafted by Seattle, Trey was traded to Oakland in December of 2015. ATVL’s 2014 Rookie-level Pitcher of the Year, he is currently pitching for Double-A Midland in the Texas League.
  9. Justin Camp (2013), 37th round pick in 2016: Justin is currently at High-A Wilmington in the Royals’ system. He’s struggling a bit with control so far this year; he’s walked 13 batters in 18 innings. Over his career, he’s 0-5, 2.74, with 5 saves, a 1.298 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9 in 101 2/3 total innings.
  10. Thomas Spitz (2013-14), 32nd round pick in 2015: An outfielder, Thomas is at Double-A Springfield in St. Louis’s system. In his minor league career, he’s slashing 248/334/333 in 1,088 total at-bats.
  11. Joey Roach (2013-14), 31st round pick in 2016: Joey has played in 7 games in Charlotte, Tampa Bay’s High-A club, but he’s not listed on their roster any longer. It could be that he will go to Hudson Valley when the short seasons begin. Anyway, in 47 total minor league games, Joey has hit 250/310/327.
  12. Ben Breazeale (2014), 7th round pick in 2017: Ben, ATVL’s 2017 short-season Hitter of the Year, is currently at Baltimore’s Delmarva team. In his second season in the minors, Ben is hitting an overall 291/405/440 in 275 at-bats.
  13. Matt Rose (2014), 11th round pick in 2015: Drafted by the Cubs but traded to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade in 2017, Matt has advanced all the way to Double-A Birmingham this year. In his career (1,021 at-bats), Matt has hit 244/313/441, with 61 doubles and 46 home runs.
  14. Brandon Gold (2014), 12th round in 2016: Poor Brandon, seemingly stuck at Lancaster, a launching pad of the highest order. (For home runs, the 2018 lefty/righty factors are 160/155.) Brandon started 12 games at Lancaster in 2017, and 8 games so far in 2018. In his career, Brandon is 12-12, 4.49, with a 1.439 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9, and 6.8 K/9 in 214 2/3 innings pitched. Hopefully he will be moved up to Double-A before too long.
  15. James Ziemba (2014-15), 22nd round pick in 2017: James, listed at 6-foot-10, is at Burlington in the Midwest League in 2018. In his two pro seasons, James is a combined 6-1, 2.49, with 2 saves, a 1.401 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, and 9.4 K/9 in 50 2/3 innings.
  16. Shane Billings (2015), 13th round pick in 2016: The 2015 Valley League MVP, Shane was drafted out of Wingate in ’16, and is starting to put his many tools to use in pro ball. At High-A Palm Beach in 2018, Shane is hitting 317/349/367 in 120 at-bats. In his 3 seasons, he is a combined 283/314/336 in 703 at-bats.
  17. Kameron Esthay (2015), 26th round in 2017: Kameron is at Hagerstown in 2018, which puts him within driving distance of the Valley. In his two pro seasons, Kameron is hitting 243/298/393 in 300 at-bats. He has 96 strikeouts, a number that puts him at 30% of his plate appearances.
  18. Trevor Craport (2016), 11th round pick in 2017: Trevor is at Delmarva, hanging out with Ben Breazeale (but they played in Harrisonburg 2 years apart. I wonder if they’ve discussed it?). Trevor is performing well in pro ball; in two seasons, he’s slashing 294/368/462 in 299 at-bats, along with a solid 30/54 BB/K ratio.
  19. Malik Jones (2016), 23rd round pick in 2017: Malik played for both the Cannons and the Harrisonburg Turks in 2016. He split his first pro year between the Arizona and New York-Penn League, going 1-2, 3.38, with a 1.23 WHIP, 5.3 BB/9, and 9.1 K/9 in 18 2/3 innings. He has not been assigned to a team yet in 2018.
  20. Donnie Sellers (2016), 11th round pick in 2017: Donnie pitched in Vancouver of the Northwest League last season, and is in Lansing (Midwest League) in 2018. Combined, he is 5-2, 5.01, with a 1.534 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and 9.1 K/9 in 59 1/3 total innings.
  21. Jonathan Pryor (2016), 19th round pick in 2017: Last but definitely not least, Jonathan was assigned to the New York-Penn League’s Auburn Doubledays after getting drafted, where he hit 259/335/340 in 147 at-bats. He has not been assigned to a team yet in 2018.

Phew! There it is- all 21 of the Turks’ current pro players. Good thing I’m not doing former players, because I have over 85 of those, and more than 45 former major leaguers.

James Ziemba 2015 Turks
James Ziemba about to throw a pitch in 2015

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