Summer Collegiate : : Story
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Valley Lg. Prospect Reports

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Valley League
Official League Website
Valley League League top 30 prospects (list)
Perfect Game Summer Collegiate top prospect coverage

Prolific hitting may win pennants, but astute pitching more often wins championships, and that adage defined the 2012 Valley League season.

The Winchester Royals (North) and Waynesboro Generals (South) handily won division championships this summer on the strength of wide-open offences, but in the end the Harrisonburg Turks, who led the league in ERA, were the last team standing as they pitched their way to a league title by beating Waynesboro in the semi-finals and Winchester in a best-of-5 final. The Turks had finished a distant second to Waynesboro in the Southern Division during the regular season.

Waynesboro led the Valley League in hitting at .310 and Winchester set a league record by smashing 84 home runs (most homers by any summer-baseball team), but the offensive attacks of both teams were largely neutralized in post-season play by Harrisonburg’s superior pitching staff, led by lefthander Shawn O’Neill, who led the league with a 1.40 ERA while pitching the clinching victories in both series against the Generals and Royals.

Harrisonburg (34-18 overall), Waynesboro (34-15) and Winchester (34-16) dominated the 12-team Valley League to such a degree this season that they were the only clubs to post winning records. Moreover, they dominate the accompanying list of the league’s 30 best prospects with 18 selections among them. Appropriately, six of the seven Winchester players and four of the five Waynesboro players on the list are position players, while five of the six Harrisonburg players represented are pitchers.

For the second year in a row, an outfielder from a North Carolina college occupies the No. 1 spot. In 2011, that player was Wake Forest’s Mac Williamson, who finished second in the league in batting, homers and RBIs and went on to become the initial Valley League player selected in the 2012 draft (Giants, third round). Western Carolina’s Julian Ridings, a multi-purpose talent who topped the league with a .435 average, claimed that distinction this summer.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: Virginia.
No. of Teams in League: 12 (12 in 2011).
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): NORTH—Winchester Generals (29-13). SOUTH—Waynesboro Generals (31-13).
Post-Season Champion: Harrisonburg Turks.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 13 Harrisonburg Turks, No. 17 Winchester Royals; No. 36 Waynesboro Generals.
No. 1 Prospect, 2011 (per PG CrossChecker): Mac Williamson, of, Harrisonburg Turks (Wake Forest; drafted by Giants/2012, 3rd round).
First 2011 Player Selected, 2012 Draft: Mac Williamson, of, Harrisonburg Turks (Wake Forest/Giants, third round).

Most Valuable Player:
Pitcher of the Year: Shawn O’Neill, lhp, Harrisonburg Turks.


Batting Average:
Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals (.435).
Slugging Percentage: Joseph Odom, c, Winchester Royals (.706).
On-Base Average: Ryan Sullivan, of, Covington Lumberjacks (.516).
Home Runs: Joseph Odom, c, Winchester Royals (17).
RBIs: Jimmy Yezzo, 3b, Winchester Royals (62).
Stolen Bases: Blake Sipe, of, Staunton Braves (20).


Dillon Ortman, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks (7).
ERA: Shawn O’Neill, lhp, Harrisonburg Turks (1.40).
Saves: Josh Bullock, rhp, Waynesboro Generals (10).
Strikeouts: Kevin Herget, rhp, Strasburg Express (77).


Best Athlete:
Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals
Best Hitter: Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals
Best Power: Jimmy Yezzo, 3b, Winchester Royals
Fastest Base Runner: Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals
Best Defensive Player: Ryan Breen, c, Waynesboro Generals
Best Velocity: Shay Maltese, rhp, Haymarket Senators
Best Breaking Ball: Shay Maltese, rhp, Haymarket Senators
Best Command: Dillon Ortman, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks


1. JULIAN RIDINGS, of, Waynesboro Generals (Western Carolina/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: A highly-athletic talent with a loose, lively body and five-tool potential, Ridings was a key factor in leading Waynesboro to the best regular-season record in the league. Just as important, his absence from the lineup, because of a shoulder injury, in the Generals final game of the season, a 2-1 loss to eventual champion Harrisonburg in the semi-finals, was instrumental in his team’s demise. The lefthanded-hitting Ridings was a significant catalyst atop the Waynesboro batting order, leading the league with a .419 average while also finishing among the leaders in slugging (.657), on-base percentage (.454), runs (45), hits (72) and stolen bases (15). Moreover, he kept defenses honest by dropping down some 20 bunts for base hits. While the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Ridings is a well-rounded player, his raw speed is his biggest weapon. It is a significant asset in all phases of his game and he maximized it this summer, more than ever before, by staying on top of balls more consistently and beating them into the ground. He began making solid strides overall as a hitter during the spring at Western Carolina, hitting .331-3-21, yet his inclination then was to look for pitches he could drive out of the park. Even as he consciously changed his approach at the plate over the summer to make better use of his speed, he still hit seven homers and drove in 39 runs. If anything, Ridings still needs to curb his aggression in order to improve his plate discipline as he posted near-identical and undesirable walk-to-strikeout ratios in the spring (5-25) as the summer (5-27). But that same aggression plays well for Ridings on the bases and in the outfield. He has plenty of range in center field, and his arm definitely plays at the position. Ridings still needs to add physical strength to his lean frame and must continue to work at curbing his emotions as he gets overtly down on himself almost every time he makes an out.

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