Austin Embler won yesterday’s match; he’ll move on to face Zack Sterry in the next round (Former Turks are 2-0 so far!).

Today we have Carter Pharis (Strasburg 2016) vs Cole Gruber (Waynesboro 2014)- two guys who led their respective teams to a second straight title in their summer seasons…

  • Carter Pharis was a four-year starter at UAB who came to Strasburg after his freshman year in 2016. All he did that summer is hit .342/.440/.535 in 155 at-bats, with 35 runs scored, 13 doubles, a triple, five home runs, 30 RBIs, and a 21/19 BB/K ratio. He helped the Express to a 30-12 regular season record, and the franchise won its second straight title. He was ATVL’s fourth best hitter from that year, and made the All-Decade second team at third base. In four years at UAB, Pharis hit a combined .298/.390/.442 in 801 at-bats, with 125 runs scored, 57 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs, 137 RBIs, a 103/135 BB/K ratio, and 36 stolen bases while only getting caught twice. He played pretty well in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017, but was not drafted after his senior season in 2019.
  • Cole Gruber also led his team to a second straight VBL title- the Waynesboro Generals in 2014 after a regular season record of 27-16. At the dish, as a rising junior, Gruber hit .385/.516/.443 in 122 at-bats that summer, with 31 runs scored, five doubles, a triple, 16 RBIs, a 28/27 BB/K ratio, and 23 stolen bases in 30 attempts. He was the third best hitter in the league. A four year starter at Nebraska-Omaha, Gruber finished his college career with a .352/.445/.433 slash line in 716 at-bats, with 164 runs scored, 34 doubles, six triples, four home runs, 97 RBIs, a 105/130 BB/K ratio, and 105 stolen bases while only getting caught 17 times. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 27th round in 2016. After signing, he spent the summer of ’16 with the Arizona A’s in the Arizona League, and then played in 18 games in Beloit of the Midwest League in 2017 before being released.

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And by the way, if you want to read a ton about either the 2015 or 2019 VBL season, be sure to check out the 2019 Valley League Annual!