A grand total of 15 former Valley League players have made opening day rosters in the Major Leagues.
Let’s take a look:
- Austin Adams (Staunton 2010-11), San Diego Padres: Adams is currently on the 10-day IL with elbow inflammation.
- Mike Brosseau (Waynesboro 2015), Tampa Bay Rays: He of the monster home run off Aroldis Chapman last fall, Brosseau is a bench player for the Rays (but will play everywhere).
- Chris Devenski (Woodstock 2015), Arizona Diamondbacks: Devenski signed with the Backs in January and will be a reliever.
- Randy Dobnak (Front Royal 2015), Minnesota Twins: Dobnak is the owner of a brand new 5-year, $9.25 million contract. He’s be a long man and/or a starter for the Twins. His Uber days can be officially ended now, I think.
- Brett Gardner (New Market 2003), New York Yankees: Mr. Yankee is back in the Bronx for his 14th season after signing a one-year contract for 2021 and a mutual option for 2022. He’ll be a backup outfielder, but given New York’s injury issues, he’ll get plenty of playing time.
- Austin Gomber (Luray 2012), Colorado Rockies: Traded from the Cardinals to the Rockies in the Nolan Arenado transaction, Gomber was rather impressive this spring and won a rotation spot.
- Will Harris (Staunton 2003), Washington Nationals: Harris is unfortunately on the IL with a blood clot issue in his right arm.
- Sam Howard (Staunton 2012), Pittsburgh Pirates: Howard will relieve for the Pirates. In fact, he got the win in Pittsburgh’s opening day win over the Cubs after striking out the side in the 6th inning.
- Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012), also Pittsburgh Pirates: Kuhl was the opening day starter for the Pirates.
- Tommy LaStella (Haymarket 2009), San Francisco Giants: LaStella signed a free agent contract with the Giants in February. He’ll begin the season as the starting third baseman (and leadoff hitter! Although maybe only against right handers).
- Nick Margevicius (Staunton 2015), Seattle Mariners: Margevicius won a spot in Seattle’s bullpen.
- Ryan McBroom (Haymarket 2011-12), Kansas City Royals: McBroom won a spot on the Royals’ bench.
- Emilio Pagan (Harrisonburg 2010), San Diego Padres: Pagan is one of three listed closers for the Padres. Oh to be a San Diego fan these days!
- Nate Pearson (Staunton 2016), Toronto Blue Jays: The big man who can throw 100+ is starting 2021 on the IL with a strained groin. He’ll need to pitch often and well for the Blue Jays to compete in the AL East.
- Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), Tampa Bay Rays: Yarbrough is listed as the #2 starter for the defending American League champs.
- For perspective, in 2020 there was a total of 22 former VBL players who appeared in the major leagues. However, two of those were Erik Kratz and Dan Murphy, and since they both retired, the number will most likely be fewer in 2021.
- There aren’t a ton of prospects set to make their major league debut in 2021, but a couple to watch would be Thad Ward (Staunton 2016) for the Red Sox, Jonathan Bowlan (New Market 2016) for Kansas City, James Reeves (Staunton 2013) for San Diego, Irving Lopez (Staunton 2016) for the Cardinals, and Josh Green (Strasburg 2016) for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- Staunton owns the “rights” to a third of the above major leaguers with five. New Market, Luray, and Haymarket follow with two each, and Waynesboro, Front Royal, Woodstock, and Harrisonburg all have one. (Covington had Jason Kipnis and Collin Cowgill for a long time, but they are both starting 2021 in the minor leagues. Winchester usually has Tyler Thornburg, but he had Tommy John surgery late last year.)
- Purcellville, Charlottesville and Strasburg don’t have any at the moment (and, actually, as the “youngest” VBL franchises, are waiting for their first). Purcellville has six current minor leaguers (and one from Charles Town), Strasburg has 17 current minor leaguers (watch out for Green and Zach Peek!), and Charlottesville has 15 current MiLB guys (Kyle Nicolas might just shoot up the prospect ranks this season).