Valley League Transactions and Free Agents

It’s officially the offseason for Major League Baseball, and while the “hot stove” is supposed to be rather chilly this winter, there have still been a few releases, a trade, a sale, a retirement, and six major leaguers with Valley League ties have filed for free agency.

Let’s take a look:

Free Agency

  • Brett Gardner (New Market 2003), Yankee for life. Gardner will most likely resign with the Yankees. Gardner hit .223/.354/.392 in 130 at-bats in 2020.
  • Jon Jay (Staunton 2004). Jay hit .160/.211/.240 in 50 at-bats for Arizona.
  • Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-7). Kipnis hit .237/.341/.404 for the Chicago Cubs in 2020.
  • Tommy La Stella (Haymarket 2009). La Stella, ranked one of the top 40 free agents by some outlets, hit .281/.370/.449 in 196 at-bats split between the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s.
  • Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-5), who hit .236/.275/.333 for the Colorado Rockies.
  • Tyler Thornburg (Winchester 2008), who appeared in seven games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020.

Retired

  • Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) announced just this week that he was not going to play in 2021. Kratz, who attended Eastern Mennonite University, played in parts of 11 seasons in the majors, hitting a total of .209/.256/.355 in 951 total plate appearances. He famously went 5-8 for the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Divisional Series in 2018 , with a double and two RBIs (and then gave some pretty funny interviews afterwards, and an amazing one more recently). Kratz has long proven himself as a “bridge-builder” in the clubhouse, and I am 99% sure that he will be named a coach for a major league team any minute now. Click here to see highlights from his career (up through June 2018), and here and here for interviews ATVL had with him back in 2006.

Traded

  • Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015), drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2017, was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in July. It appears that he was traded so that the Royals could retain the rights to Rule-5 pick Stephen Woods. Gigliotti has hit .296/.392/.407 in 595 minor league at-bats. Given Tampa Bay’s penchant for developing players, I am excited for Gigliotti’s future in his new organization.

Sold

  • Connor Loeprich (Waynesboro 2016-7) was sold to the Baltimore Orioles from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Drafted in 2018, Loeprich has gone 6-8, 3.68, with a 1.356 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, and 9.1 K/9 in 124 minor league innings.

Released

  • David Carpenter (Covington 2006) has been released by the Cincinnati Reds after not appearing in a game with the franchise. Carpenter has pitched in 56 games at the major league level, going 11-11, 3.69, with 218 strikeouts in 214 2/3 innings. Fun fact- he was a catcher in the Valley League.
  • Trevor Jensen (Winchester 2016), picked in the 24th round of the 2019 draft, has been released by the Minnesota Twins. He hit .246/.338/.336 in 122 at-bats in his only pro season.
  • Parker Phillips (Waynesboro 2017), picked by the Twins three rounds after Jensen, was also cut loose. Phillips hit .265/.367/.407 in 204 at-bats (split between two levels) in his pro season.
  • Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019 by the Twins, Evan Gillespie (Waynesboro 2018) was bounced after going 3-1, 2.16 in 16 2/3 innings in the Gulf Coast League (in 2019).
  • Alec Craig (Strasburg 2016) has been released by the Twins as well. After going undrafted in 2019, Craig went 14-29, with 14 walks, for Westside in the independent United Shore League. The Twins signed him, and he batted 81 times in Rookie ball, slashing .235/.417/.247.
  • One of the best starters in the VBL in both 2016 and 2017, Ben Dum (Strasburg) was signed, like Craig, after ripping through an independent league. Undrafted after his career at VCU, Dum went 1-0, 2.75, with 24 strikeouts and two walks in 19 2/3 innings in the Frontier League. After signing with the Twins, he went 4-2, 3.21, with 20 strikeouts and zero walks in 14 pro innings in the Appalachian League. Somehow that wasn’t enough, and Minnesota released him.
  • Eric Jones (Charlottesville 2017) did exactly the same thing as Craig and Dum; he went 30-77 with Utica in the United Shore League, caught the eye of the Twins, and was signed as an undrafted free agent. Jones, though, only got 16 at-bats in organized pro ball before the Twins cut him loose.

Here’s to good luck to everyone in their new situations!

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