Ahhhh, 2001. Twenty years ago. Also, the first year I purchased Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook…. so it’s time to take a look back at Valley League prospects from that time.
2001: The Times
- I was actually a young man, but like most young men, I had no idea at the time. (And I was living in East Africa at the time- how did I purchase the BA Prospect Handbook? I have no memory of that.)
- January 20: George W Bush becomes 43rd US President
- April 9: police shot and killed an unarmed 19-year old black man in Cincinnati, leading to a period of unrest for several days
- Arizona Diamondbacks win the World Series over the Evil Empire- Luis Gonzalez hit a championship-winning RBI single off Mariano Rivera in game 7
- September 11: the 9/11 attacks, of course
- October 7: War in Afghanistan begins
2001: The Valley League
- The League had “only” eight teams- Charlottesville, Strasburg, Purcellville, and Woodstock did not exist yet
- Winchester won the North division title by going 28-12
- Covington won the South title at 23-17
- Winchester eventually won the title over Covington, three games to two, the franchise’s first title since 1997
- Wes Timmons (Winchester) was the league MVP
- 41 former VBL players were drafted that summer; Justin Pope (Staunton) was the highest pick, 28th overall to St. Louis. He pitched for eight years in the minors, topping out at Triple-A. He is currently coaching in the Miami Marlins’ system.
2001: The Prospects
First of all, I have to say that when I look back at these lists, I always assume that there were many, many more top prospects a couple decades ago than currently. What I’ve discovered is that this is not true. The VBL has seven top 30 prospects in 2021, and only had six in 2001. But let’s take a look:
- Jon Rauch (Harrisonburg 1998) was #1 for the Chicago White Sox. Rauch was the VBL MVP in 1998- he crushed hitters all summer, striking out 126 batters in 85 (!!!) innings. He was drafted in the 3rd round in ’99, and signed for $310,000. The six-foot-11 righthander was BA’s Minor League Player of the Year in his first full year in the minors, 2000, when he went 16-4 with 187 K’s in 166 innings. Rauch went on to pitch in the major leagues for 11 years, going 43-40, 3.90, with 62 saves, a 1.240 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, and 7.2 K/9 in 595 total innings.
- Adam Everett (Winchester 1996) was ranked at #6 for the Houston Astros. Picked 12th overall in 1998 by the Boston Red Sox, Everett was traded to Houston in a deal for Carl Everett (no relation). Everett was best known for his outstanding range and throwing arm at shortstop, with a passable bat. He, like Rauch, had an 11-year major league career. In 2,758 career at-bats, he hit .242/.294/.346, with 40 home runs and 67 stolen bases. He stayed in coaching for while after retirement, but is now in Business Development at Synexis Biodefense Systems.
- Kyle Snyder (Winchester 1997) came in at #10 in the Kansas City Royals’ system. Snyder was picked 7th overall in 1999- tied for the highest draft pick since 1996 (Yonder Alonso was also picked 7th overall in 2008). Snyder struggled with health (he missed two full seasons- 2001 and 2004), but made his major league debut in 2003, and pitched at the game’s highest level for five years. Overall, he went 8-17, 5.57, with a 1.548 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and 5.9 K/9 in 237 2/3 major league innings. After retiring in 2011, he has been a coach in Tampa Bay’s system, and has been the Pitching Coach for the major league team since 2018.
- Mike Maroth (Staunton 1996-97) was listed at #15 in Detroit’s system. Drafted in the 3rd round in 1998, Maroth made his major league debut in June of 2002. He pitched for some really bad Detroit squads- he went 9-21 in 2003- but he threw almost 1,000 innings at the game’s highest level. Overall, he went 50-67, 5.05, with a 1.460 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and 4.3 K/9. He retired in January, 2011, and is currently the Pitching Coach for Triple-A Gwinnett for the Atlanta Braves. (His prospect writeup is really odd, though. His paragraph includes a mention that he was in sort sort of “malaise” in 2000, and when he attitude improved, so did his pitching. I would like to hear the story behind that!)
- Tommy Murphy (Staunton 1998) is also #15, but in “Anaheim’s” system. Murphy was picked in the 3rd round of the 2000 draft out of Florida Atlantic. An amazing athlete, Murphy was timed at 6.5 seconds in the 60, and was a solid shortstop. He played parts of two seasons in the major leagues, but he just didn’t hit enough to stick, unfortunately. He went 23-108 in parts if 2006 and 2007, and was released in the middle of 2009.
- Tim Olson (Staunton 1999-2000) came in at #21 on Arizona’s list. The Diamondback’s 7th round draft pick in 2000, Olson appeared on two prospect lists for Arizona- 2001 and 2002. A versatile athlete who could play infield and outfield, Olson recovered from striking out 49 times in 261 at-bats in his pro debut (South Bend in 2000) to eventually play in the major leagues in 2004 and 2005, albeit for only 99 at-bats. Olson retired in 2007, and is now a Corporate Insurance Consultant.
So that does it for the VBL prospects from two decades ago! Would you like to see another one? Move up to 2002? Ditch the idea?