Courtesy of Valley League
Winchester utility player Luke Greinke (Orlando, Fla./Auburn) was named Most Valuable Player and Waynesboro skipper Lawrence Nesselrodt was selected as Coach of the Year as the Valley Baseball League announced its 2007 All-League awards on Wednesday, August 8.
Greinke, a rising senior at Auburn, filled several roles for the Winchester Royals and was a true utility player with solid play in the field, at the plate, and on the mound. Offensively, he battered the baseball while playing first base, outfield, and designated hitter. He led the league with a .417 batting average to claim the league’s batting title. He also led the VBL with a .642 slugging percentage and .517 on-base percentage while collecting 12 doubles, five homers, and 32 RBIs for a potent Winchester offense that led the league hitting .275 as a team. Greinke was equally as impressive on the mound, going 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in eight appearances covering 50 2/3 innings.
Nesselrodt was named the league’s top coach for the second consecutive season. The Generals finished with the league’s top record in the regular season at 30-13-1 and also have the league’s best mark over the last two years combined at 57-28-1. Waynesboro has held true to its top seed by advancing to the VBL championship series.
Greinke was one of 16 players selected to the 2007 Valley League All-League squad. Waynesboro and its championship opponent Luray, the defending league champion, each placed three players on the All-League squad to lead the way. Front Royal, Harrisonburg, New Market, and Winchester each placed two players on the team with Covington and Staunton adding the last two picks.
Three players were repeat selections to the squad, led by Luray short stop Tyler Kuhn (Louisville, Ky./West Virginia), who was the 2006 VBL MVP. Entering the championship series, Kuhn was hitting .314 with seven doubles, two triples, three homers, 21 RBIs, 20 walks, and seven steals.
The other repeat picks both came from Waynesboro. Kurt Davidson (North Canton, Ohio/Akron) was the selection at first base after being honored at third base in 2006. He leads the league by a wide margin with 51 RBIs and 61 hits. Davidson is also second with 90 total bases while hitting .305 with 12 doubles and five homers. A clutch hitter all season, Davidson had the game-winning RBI in the Generals’ semifinal game three win over Covington and in the championship series opener in the 14th inning against Luray.
The other repeat honoree was Generals ace Jon Dages (Indianapolis, Ind./Butler), who went 7-2 with a 2.62 ERA. Entering the championship, he ranks second in the league with 68 2/3 innings pitched and seven wins.
Waynesboro’s other all-league winner was second baseman Brandon Sizemore (Bryceville, Fla./Tallahassee C.C.). He sits third in the league with 53 hits and leads the Generals with 13 doubles. Sizemore is hitting .277 with a triple, three homers, 27 RBIs, and 13 steals.
Luray’s other selections came from their dynamic duo of starting pitchers, Robert Gilliam (Chapel Hill, N.C./UNC-Greensboro) and Dustin Umberger (Hummelstown, Pa./Liberty). Gilliam won the honor of the league’s ERA leader for the regular season and carries a 1.26 mark and a 7-1 record into the final series. He also has a save and has struck out 81 batters in 57 innings. Umberger ranks second in the league with a 1.45 ERA and led the league with eight wins on a perfect 8-0 record. He ranks third with 76 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Greinke, the all-league pick at the utility spot, was joined by teammate Jose Cueto (Miami, Fla./Virginia Tech). The outfielder ranks fourth in the league with a .328 batting average and fifth with a .537 on-base percentage. He led the Royals with six home runs while adding eight doubles, 24 RBIs, 20 walks, and 11 steals.
Front Royal’s two picks include third baseman Bennett Davis (Katy, Texas/Manatee C.C.) and closer Joel Brookens (Fayetteville, Pa./North Carolina St.). Davis sits second in the league with 14 doubles. He hit .280 with three home runs, 36 runs scored, 30 RBIs, and 14 steals. Brookens leads the league with 13 saves and ranks second with 19 games finished. He had a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings and held opponents to a .129 batting average.
Harrisonburg placed two players on the all-league squad after finishing second in the regular season. Outfielder Robert Taylor (Ingram, Texas/Arkansas-Little Rock) and relief pitcher Garrett Parker (Duncanville, Texas/Howard-Payne) represented the Turks. Taylor ranks third in the league with a .352 batting average. He scored 22 runs, had six doubles, four homers, 14 walks, and a .420 on-base percentage. Parker finished 2-1 with a 0.84 ERA and eight saves in 21 1/3 innings. He did not allow a run until the postseason and ranks fifth in the league in saves.
New Market had two all-league selections with catcher Nick Stanley (Largo, Fla./South Florida C.C.) and designated hitter Nolan Brannon (St. Petersburg, Fla./Tampa). Stanley ranks fifth in the VBL with a .325 batting average and leads the league with 15 doubles. He had 50 hits, 23 runs, two homers, 20 RBIs, and 16 walks. Brannon hit .323 with 41 hits, six doubles, 17 RBIs, and 15 walks.
The final two selections were Covington outfielder Jason Kipnis (Northbrook, Ill./Kentucky) and Staunton closer Bobby Hernandez (Key West, Fla./Barry). Kipnis shares the league lead with nine home runs and won the home run derby during the 2007 all-star game in Front Royal. He ranks second with a .591 slugging percentage, second with a .498 on-base percentage, first with 46 runs scored, second with 41 RBIs, first with 91 total bases, first with 49 walks, and second with 24 stolen bases. Hernandez was second in the league with 12 saves and second with 21 appearances. He had a 1.78 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .143 batting average.
The awards were voted upon by the league’s 11 head coaches, broadcasters, and select media members who covered the league.
2007 Valley League MVP – Luke Grineke, Winchester
2007 Valley League Coach of the Year – Lawrence Nesselrodt, Waynesboro
2007 Valley League Batting Champion – Luke Greinke, Winchester
2007 Valley League Pitching ERA Leader – Robert Gilliam, Luray
2007 Valley League All-League Team
1B – Kurt Davidson, Waynesboro (Akron)
2B – Brandon Sizemore, Waynesboro (Tallahassee C.C.)
3B – Bennett Davis, Front Royal (Manatee C.C.)
SS – Tyler Kuhn, Luray (West Virginia)
OF – Jose Cueto, Winchester (Virginia Tech)
OF – Jason Kipnis, Covington (Kentucky)
OF – Robert Taylor, Harrisonburg (Arkansas-Little Rock)
C – Nick Stanley, New Market (South Florida C.C.)
DH – Nolan Brannon, New Market (Tampa)
UT – Luke Greinke, Winchester (Auburn)
SP – Jon Dages, Waynesboro (Butler)
SP – Robert Gilliam, Luray (UNC-Greensboro)
SP – Dustin Umberger, Luray (Liberty)
RP – Joel Brookens, Front Royal (North Carolina St.)
RP – Bobby Hernandez, Staunton (Barry)
RP – Garrett Parker, Harrisonburg (Howard-Payne)
Note: Due to a tie, three relief pitchers were selected