It’s a sad day at ATVL, as two former league standouts have been released by the St. Louis Cardinals within a week of each other, both from Double-A Springfield.
First of all, former Valley League MVP Shane Billings was released just two days ago, on May 5th. Shane was the runaway best player in the ’15 season for the Harrisonburg Turks, finishing the regular season with a 418/474/549 slash line, along with 45 runs, 6 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs, 15 RBIs, a 19/13 BB/K ratio, and 21 stolen bases. His name still appears in the 2004-2018 VBL Record book: He’s tied for 6th in batting averge, tied for 9th in runs, and tied for 2nd in total triples. He was the clear #1 hitter in the league that season.
Shane was picked in the 13th round of the 2016 draft out of Wingate, and started his pro career that summer at Johnson City in the Appalachian League. He worked his way up to Double-A in 2018, and started his 2019 season there as well. His release came as a surprise, as he was hitting 370/393/630 in 27 at-bats this spring. In his pro career, spanning 1,024 at-bats, Shane has hit 274/304/342.
The second player let go, released on April 30th, is former Woodstock River Bandit Mike O’Reilly. Mike manned the mound in the ‘Stock in 2014, when he went 2-5, 2.55, with a 1.167 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, and 7.5 K/9 in 60 innings pitched. He was the league’s 10th best starting pitcher. (Even though he was the 10th best on that list, he made it further in his pro career than the pitchers ahead of him.)
The Cardinals picked Mike 14 rounds after Shane in 2016. He had an amazing year in 2017, split between Low-A Peoria and High-A Palm Beach, when he went 12-3, 2.34, with a 0.941 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9, and 8.3 K/9 in 142 1/3 total innings. He was ATVL’s A-Ball Pitcher of the Year for his efforts. In 2019 at Springfield, Mike tallied 11 1/3 innings, going 0-1, 7.94, with a 1.500 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, and 6.4 K/9. In his career, Mike is a total of 20-13, 3.44, with a 1.106 WHIP, 1.9 BB9, and 7.7 K/9 in 305 2/3 innings.
Good luck to each of you as you figure out what’s next….