Today we’ll begin our preview series, in which we take a peek at each Valley League team leading up to our new season, which begins on June 2. Do keep in mind that the makeup of teams changes drastically from day to day; it’s possible that all, or none, of the players that are listed in this report will actually play in the Valley this summer. We start with Covington!

Organization Details

  • Last VBL Title- 2011
  • General Manager- Mark Pifer
  • Recruiters- Neil Andreoli/Renny Tolentino
  • Head Coach- Tolentino, head coach at ASA College, an NJCAA team in Florida. He graduated from LSU Shreveport in 2020, and then was an assistant coach there as well. Tolentino also played for Andreoli with the Pompano Beach Clippers in the South Florida League in 2016 (and threw nine shutout innings, by the way). I spoke to Coach Tolentino for the info for this preview.
  • Current Key Alumni in Pro Ball- JD Mundy (2018) is playing for Double-A Bowie in Baltimore’s system, and Bennett Hostetler (also 2018) is at High-A Beloit in Miami’s system.

2021 Season Recap

The 2021 Lumberjacks had its season cut short by a Covid outbreak with roughly a week to go in the regular season. The team finished 10-22, five games out of the playoffs and 16 games behind first place Charlottesville. The ‘Jacks was led at the plate by Victor Castillo (Central Florida) and Trendon Craig (drafted by the Orioles), and on the mound by Matthew Marchal (Wofford).

Returning Players

  • John Schroeder, Florida Atlantic (2021)
  • Cole Ketzner, Bossier Parish (2021)
  • Triston Hensley, Emory & Henry (2021)
  • Dominick Miller, Florida Gulf Coast (2021)
  • Cade Henry, Wallace State (2021)

Hitters to Watch

(Stats through Saturday, May 7)

  • Jacob Pajer, Shorter- “A catalyst,” according to Tolentino: He’s hitting .310/.394/.491 in 171 at-bats, with 11 doubles and six home runs
  • Blake D’Arville, St. Johns River State 
  • Bradke Lohry, Wabash Valley College- .458/.550/.711, eight doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 15 stolen bases
  • Ben Nippolt, VCU- .286/.397/.333, three doubles, one triple in 105 at-bats
  • Ryder Hernandez, Texas State

Pitchers to Watch

Tolentino is upbeat about the staff: “Pitching should be a strength,” he said.

  • Matthew Taylor, Eastern New Mexico can hit the mid-to high 90’s
  • Landon Lucas, Charleston
  • Tyler Overholt, Charleston

Other Notes

  • The team will welcome Will Hudler (Johnson County CC), whose father, Rex, is the current Kansas City Royals announcer and former 13-year major leaguer. Hudler is putting up some nice numbers this spring; he’s .336/.385/.533 in 107 at-bats, with eight doubles, two triples, and three home runs.
  • Three teammates from Seminole State, Angel Lopez, Victor Rodriguez, and Samuel Bathermy, should be “fun to watch,” according to Tolentino.
  • Covington opens 2022 in Charlottesville on June 4, and hosts Charlottesville the next night.

Next up is the Purcellville Cannons!