Our first match for this week is a newer player, Rick Spiers (Charlottesville 2017), vs an older MVP, Gunnar McNeill (Staunton 2014).

Let’s take a look:

  • Spiers got here by defeating Shaun Cooper in the play-in round. Here is his writeup: “Rick Spiers joined the Tom Sox after his junior year at D-III Randoph Macon. He was a crucial player in the Sox’s first championship season, hitting .333/.391/.487 in 117 at-bats, with five doubles, two triples, three home runs, and eight stolen bases. On the mound, he went 4-0, 0.78, with a 2.0 BB/9 and 10.6 K/9 in 23 innings pitched. He was on the bump for the final out of the final game of the 2017 championship series, after the Tom Sox went 32-10 in the regular season. Over his four years in school, Spiers hit .349/.399/.489 in 570 at-bats, with 33 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 126 RBIs, a 52/96 BB/K ratio, and 50 stolen bases in 57 attempts. On the mound, he went 15-8, 2.83 in 178 innings, with six saves and 151 strikeouts. He was not drafted after his senior year in 2018. (To watch the VBL podcast with Rick, click here.)
  • McNeill was an easy choice for MVP back in 2014. He hit .402/.469/.604 in 169 at-bats in the regular season, along with 28 runs, 68 hits, 16 doubles, six home runs, 50 RBIs, a 22/19 BB/K ratio, and he even added six stolen bases. In the three games Staunton played in the playoffs, Gunnar went 7-12, with two runs, a double, two RBIs, and two walks with no strikeouts. The lowest batting average he had at any point in the season was .375. He was hitting .396 with three games left, and with a shade of Ted Williams, went 3-3, 0-3, and 2-4 to end the regular season at .402.He finished 1st in the league in batting average, 5th in on-base percentage, 1st in slugging percentage, 1st in OPS (on-base plus slugging), 1st in hits, 2nd in doubles, tied for 4th in home runs, 1st in RBIs, and 1st in total bases (102). He had two or more hits in a game in 24 of Staunton’s 45 games. Baseball America named him the 6th best prospect in the league, and Perfect Game said Gunnar was the best hitter in the league, and that he also had the best power. McNeill transferred from Florida International to Chipola for 2015, where he crushed it, slashing .362/.407/.551. He then transferred to Kentucky, where he played in both 2016 and 2017. He was not drafted after his senior year.

Vote by going to twitter.com/JohnATVL.

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

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