“Josh Hader type.”

That was the very high praise indeed connected to Staunton lefthander C.J. Widger about halfway through the Valley League season, delivered by Staunton coach Lance Mauck. He was specifically talking about Widger’s frame, velocity, and ability to make batters uncomfortable with arm slot and control.

At 6-foot-6, 175 pounds, Widger certainly looks the part, and his stats back it up as well. In 20 innings for Staunton, Widger went 2-0, 3.15, with 17 hits, five walks, 15 strikeouts, a 1.100 WHIP and .233 batting average against. He finished eighth in the league in WHIP and sixth in BB/9. His best game was turned in on June 25th against the hard-hitting Charlottesville lineup, when he went six shutout innings and allowed four hits, three walks, and struck out two.

Widger, the son of 10-year MLB vet Chris Widger, didn’t stick around all summer, as he was a 10th round selection in the MLB draft in July by the Texas Rangers (284th overall). He signed a pro contract, but will not make his pro debut until 2022.

Widger spent his “covid freshman” season at Rowan College, a junior college in New Jersey. He went 8-0, 1.26 in 57 innings, with 37 hits allowed and only 10 walks against 68 strikeouts. He helped the Roadrunners to the NJCAA World Series, was named first team NJCAA All-American, Region Pitcher of the Year, and was the highest draft pick in school history.

So while he is 16th on this list, he is the only pitcher on the list to already be an employee of a major league team.