We’ve reached Championship Week- both for NCAA basketball and to name a top reliever in the Valley League over the past ten years. Today we have our first semi-final matchup between the best relievers from the most recent VBL seasons… and this will be a battle, as both of these young men have drummed up quite a bit of support!

  • Anthony Zimmerman blasted Nicholas Purpera and Mitchell Wade in the first two rounds, and then slipped past Thomas Sutera in the Elite Eight, 55.1% to 44.9% (138 votes). His writeup: “Anthony Zimmerman was throwing a bullpen in Harrisonburg at the 2018 All-Star game, popping 95+ mph fastballs, one after the other, in front of a North coach (not his own). A rising senior from Fordham, Zimmerman had appeared in only 11 games in college as a junior. The coach remarked to me later that he didn’t understand why Zimmerman wasn’t pitching more in college with the ability he showed. Well, first of all, Zimmerman went 3-0, 0.55 in 13 games that summer for the Purcellville Cannons, with seven saves, a 0.675 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and 18.2 K/9 in 16 1/3 innings (he struck out 33 batters in those 16 innings). His batting average against was a tiny .121, making him a pretty obvious choice as the best reliever in the league. Returning to Fordham for his senior year in 2019, Zimmerman did, indeed, pitch more, appearing in 27 games. He went 3-2, 0.99, with three saves, a 1.24 WHIP, 5.9 BB/9, and 13.9 K/9 in 36 1/3 innings. He wasn’t drafted, but the Cincinnati Reds signed him as a free agent, and Zimmerman began his pro career at Greeneville in the Appalachian League in 2019, where he went 0-2, 7.94, with 20 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched.”
  • Conor Miller walloped Mark Lamm and Randy Dobnak in the first two rounds, and then sneaked past Trevin Eubanks i nthe Elite Eight, 55.9% to 44.1% (111 votes). His writeup: “Conor Miller is the most recent top reliever, as he was named ATVL’s #1 in 2019 for Woodstock. From Division-III York, Miller went 1-1, 0.47 for the Bandits, with two saves, a 0.737 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and 8.5 K/9 in 19 innings pitched. He gave up only two runs, one earned, all regular season. Miller returned to York for the 2020 college season and started three games before Covid-19 did its thing. Miller is planning to return to Woodstock in 2021- maybe we’ll have the first repeat top reliever in the history of the award?”

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.

Also, please check out and subscribe to the Valley Baseball League youtube channel!