Recruiting Notebook: Westfield’s Furr Flies at Prime Time’s College Showcase


November 20 - Westfield junior Derek Furr ran a 6.81 in the 60-yard dash to clock the fastest time among the 50 players that attended the Prime Time Baseball College Showcase on Nov. 10.

A 5-foot-10, 155-pound outfielder and left-handed pitcher, Furr’s time bettered the 6.91 recorded by Potomac senior Josue Cumba the previous weekend at the Prep Baseball Report Mid-Atlantic Challenge in Ruther Glen. The fastest recorded in a Perfect Game showcase this fall was a 6.50 by Hunter Conner of Cypress, TX earlier this month.

The best time recorded by a current Northern Virginia player is the 6.43 turned in by Sajon Belser, a senior outfielder at Riverside and College of Charleston recruit. That was clocked at the University of Oklahoma’s camp in August 2017. West Potomac junior outfielder Justin Bassett ran a 6.57 at James Madison University’s team camp in July, Riverside senior shortstop and Yale recruit Carson Swank clocked a 6.59 while at the Headfirst Honor Roll Camp in Florida earlier this month, and Colgan junior outfielder Ryley Johnson, an East Carolina commit, ran a 6.60 last year at a Sharks workout.

Furr’s performance at the showcase, which included at morning workout at Frank Mann Field in Alexandria and afternoon scrimmages at Barcroft Park in Arlington, also included recording an 80 MPH fastball. T.C. Williams junior right-hander Shane Tucker recorded the event’s top velocity, recording an 86 MPH fastball, and Oakton junior catcher Davis Kelley had the day’s best POP time - measuring the tie on throws from the plate to second base - with a 2.0.

“We were very pleased with the weekend as a whole,” said John Skaggs of Prime Time Baseball, which also held a recruiting seminar the previous night that featured Georgetown coach Pete Wilk. “The coaches who attended the showcase were pleased with the talent, [and it] gave local players an opportunity to show their skills to a multitude of college divisions close to home.”

Coaches from the following schools attended the showcase: George Mason, Georgetown, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Coppin State, the Naval Academy, Wayne State, West Chester, West Virginia Wesleyan, Hood, Marymount, Penn State-Harrisburg, McDaniel, Bethany CC, Bryant & Stratton CC, and Patrick Henry CC.

Mason to Hold Winter Showcase on Jan. 21 in Fairfax

George Mason will be holding its annual Winter Showcase Camp for high school and junior college players on Monday, Jan. 21 at the Patriots’ Raymond H. “Hap” Spuhler Field in Fairfax.

The camp will be run by Mason’s assistant coaches - Tag Montague, Brian Pugh, Tyler Nelin and Ryan Ricci - and will be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Campers are able to attend as position players, pitchers, or two-way players.

For more information or to register, visit www.billbrownbaseballcamps.com.

NVTBL Hosting Recruiting Seminar, College Showcase in Coming Weeks

The Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League will be holding its annual college baseball recruiting seminar on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Langley High School, and then a winter college showcase for current sophomores, juniors and seniors on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the St. James Indoor Sports Complex in Springfield.

Scheduled to speak at the recruiting seminar are three assistant coaches, George Washington’s Rick Oliveri, Christopher Newport’s George Fisher and Johns Hopkins’ Adam Schlenoff. And the NVTBL has listed coaches from the following schools as confirmed for the college showcase: Catholic, Chowan, Gettysburg, Hamilton, Hampden-Sydney, Hood, Johns Hopkins, Marymount, McDaniel, Muhlenberg, Patrick Henry CC, Randolph-Macon, Rochester, Shenandoah, Stevenson, St. Mary’s (MD), Ursinus and Washington (MD).

Both events are co-hosted by the NVTBL’s Premier Showcase League. For more information or to register, visit www.nvtblbaseball.org.

Photo of Westfield’s Derek Furr by Fred Ingham

Kamide’s Korner: NOVA's MLB Front Office Presence Grows with Elias' Hiring


November 19 - Mike Elias was officially introduced today by the Baltimore Orioles, which means the baseball operations for three of the American League’s 15 clubs are now overseen by general managers with Northern Virginia roots.

Elias, a 2001 graduate of Alexandria’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, joins Minnesota’s Thad Levine and Kansas City’s Dayton Moore as general managers with local ties.

Levine, who was hired by the Twins in November 2016, is a 1990 graduate of T.C. Williams who went on to play at Division III Haverford College in Pennsylvania before getting his MBA at UCLA. And Moore, who played and coached at George Mason University, was hired by the Royals in June 2006 and oversaw the club as they advanced to back-to-back World Series and won a title in 2015.

Moore has a number of area natives on his operations and coaching staff, including: another former Mason player and coach in J.J. Picollo, the Royals’ assistant general manager for player personnel; Jin Wong, their assistant general manager for baseball administration, was a Division III All-American at Mary Washington; director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg, a Marshall High School and Mason alum; scout Ken Munoz, yet another former Mason player and coach and the former coach at West Springfield; and minor league hitting coach Brian Buchanan, a standout at Fairfax and the University of Virginia who later played for five seasons in the big leagues.

The presence of Northern Virginia natives in baseball operations doesn’t end there.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta, who is now in the front office with the Cleveland Browns and was one of the main character subjects in the popular book and movie Moneyball, is a 1991 graduate of Episcopal. Moneyball documented the Oakland A’s pioneering approach to the sophisticated sabermetrics that was initially embraced by Billy Beane and DePodesta and is now a common method used to scout and analyze players.

Former C.D. Hylton and George Mason star Mike Colangelo was a member of the A’s 2002 team that served as the inspiration for the book and movie. DePodesta was teammates with Levine while the two played in Alexandria youth soccer leagues in the late 1980s.

Also of note: Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion manager with the San Francisco, played youth ball in Falls Church’s Bailey’s Crossroads Little League (now Mason District LL) while his father was stationed in the area by the Army. And just beyond Northern Virginia, three additional current GMs attended college: the New York Yankees’ Brian Cashman played at Catholic University, the Seattle Mariners’ Jerry Dipoto played at Virginia Commonwealth, and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Eric Neander went to Virginia Tech.

Baltimore’s hiring of the 35-year-old Elias - who set a TJ program record with 18 career wins and went on to pitch at Yale - signals a shift in in the organization’s approach to player scouting and development. Gone are old-school manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette, who are both in their 60s. Enter a rising front office star in Elias, who has spent his 13 years in professional baseball in scouting and helped build the roster of the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros.

Further indication that Baltimore will be embracing the analytics that now drive baseball is Elias bringing along Sig Mejdal, a former NASA engineer who worked for him in Houston.

Mejdal’s resume is impressive, he earned multiple degrees in engineering, another in cognitive psychology, and while at NASA figured out ways for astronauts on the International Space Station to sleep better. Those smarts have transferred to baseball, which he got involved in after gaining inspiration from Moneyball. His analytical work with the Astros proved integral in the club building one of baseball’s best teams.

Even with the Nationals becoming the overwhelming team supported by Northern Virginia baseball fans, many area Orioles fans still exist due to the 34-year gap that Washington, D.C. endured without a Major League team.

Those fans - who didn’t have much to cheer about during a 115-loss season in 2018 - now have new life with one of baseball’s top young minds shaping Baltimore’s future.

Photos of Dayton Moore, Thad Levine and Mike Elias courtesy

Pro Notebook: TJ Grad Elias Named Orioles’ New General Manager


November 18 - Mike Elias, who set the program record for victories at Alexandria’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and pitched at Yale University, was named on Friday as the new general manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

After graduating from Yale, Elias interned with the Philadelphia Phillies before becoming a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007. In 2011, he became the director of amateur scouting for the Houston Astros and in 2016, he was promoted as the club’s assistant general manager.

Elias, 35, was also given the title of Baltimore’s executive vice president and will follow Dan Duquette, who was fired along with manager Buck Showalter last month after the Orioles lost a Major League-worst 115 games. He will be tasked with hiring the club’s next manager.

"Michael was a student of the game even during his time here as a player," said John Stuper, the head coach at Yale and a former Major League pitcher, in a release by the school. “This was the logical next step. He's smart, good with people, a great judge of talent, and a man of character and integrity. The Orioles made a terrific choice to lead them back to prominence."

A 2001 graduate of Jefferson, Elias was 18-5 as a left-handed pitcher for the Colonials, then made 44 relief appearances in his four seasons at the Ivy League. In high school, he pitched for Vienna Post 180 and late longtime manager Bert Crump.

Elias will be formally introduced by the club at a press conference tomorrow.

Arizona Fall League Campaigns End for Bukauskas, Lee, Scrubb

The annual Arizona Fall League wrapped yesterday when Peoria (21-9) and Salt River (16-14) played in the league’s championship game.

Three Northern Virginia natives - J.B Bukauskas (Stone Bridge), Khalil Lee (Flint Hill) and Andre Scrubb (C.D. Hylton) - had mixed results against some of baseball’s top prospects over the two-month season. Bukauskas (Stone Bridge) had the best campaign of the trio, finishing 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA in his six starts with the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Houston Astros farmhand, who had his fastball reach 98 MPH, struck out 24 in 24.1 innings.

Lee struggled for much of the fall, hitting just .157 with a .239 on-base percentage and four extra-base hits in his 83 at-bats. The Kansas City prospect played 21 games with the Surprise Saguaros. Scrubb, who finished the summer with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, OK, had a 6.14 ERA in eight relief appearances with the Glendale Desert Dogs.

McBroom Spending Winter With Defending Mexican League Champ Tomateros de Culiacan

Ryan McBroom (Courtland) is suiting up this winter for Tomateros de Culiacan of the Mexican Pacific League, and entered the day hitting .226 with 16 RBI in 28 games with the club based in Northwestern Mexico.

During the spring and summer, the first baseman split his time between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, hitting .302 with 15 home runs and 60 RBI in 121 games with the New York Yankees affiliates. He was the Most Valuable Player of the Single-A Midwest League in 2015 and was a Double-A Eastern League All-Star selection in 2017.

The eight-team Mexican Pacific League is an independent league that sends its champion each winter to the Caribbean World Series. Tomateros de Culiacan (19-12), the defending league champion, entered the day in first place with a three-game lead on Naranjeros de Hermosillo.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.

Photo of Mike Elias via Houston Chronicle

Bonner, Beloved Team Manager at Fairfax and UVA, Dies at 23


November 15 - Drew Bonner, an inspirational student manager at Fairfax High School and the University of Virginia, passed away in his sleep on Saturday. He was 23.

Despite suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Bonner played Little League as a third baseman until the progressive degenerative disease forced him to give up the game at age 11. By the time he was 14, he was in a wheelchair.

Nonetheless, he persevered with a positive attitude that became contagious to those around him. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout at 13, and in his fourth year as the Rebels’ manager in 2013, Fairfax coach Rick Freeman sent him to the plate on “Drew Bonner Night” against Madison. A video of the at-bat went viral and made national news. His walk up song - “Ridin Dirty” by Chamillionaire, with the opening line, “They see me rollin” - further demonstrated his outgoing personality.

“Drew accomplished so much in his short time through much adversity,” Freeman wrote in a text message earlier this week.

At Virginia, he earned a College World Series ring in 2015 after teaming with another manager, Herndon native Tyler Slate, to oversee the Cavaliers’ video analytics. The team’s coaches and players were quick to credit the work of Bonner and Slate for their success that season.

“If we didn’t have Slate and Drew to man it, there’s no way our coaches would have enough time in the day to use it to its full capability,” pitching coach Karl Kuhn told The Washington Post in June 2015. “If it wasn’t for those two guys . . . we’d have no shot.”

Added Derek Fisher, a member of that 2015 CWS team who won a World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017, earlier this week in a post on Twitter: “This hurts. Anybody who had the pleasure of meeting Drew, I know you’re with me. Jokester. Genius. Damn. Baseball is going to miss you, brother. WaHoowa.”

Bonner earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia in 2017, served as a Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Goodwill Ambassador, and had been working as a software developer for Group W in Vienna.

A memorial service will be held on Dec. 1 at the Demaine Funeral Home in Springfield. To view Bonner’s obituary, click here.

Photos of Drew Bonner courtesy of Fairfax Baseball and the Bonner family

Ceremonies Held for Area Players as NCAA’s Early Signing Period Begins


November 15 - Many area players who are signing to play collegiately on athletic scholarships had ceremonies held as the NCAA’s week-long early signing period opened on Wednesday.

Thus far, 22 player from the magazine’s 86-school coverage area in Northern Virginia are bound to play at the Division I level.

Several schools have multiple players bound for Division I programs, including: Battlefield’s Zach Agnos (East Carolina) and Carter Cunningham (Gardner-Webb); Centreville’s Hunter Bell (Virginia Commonwealth) and Derek Haynie (Hofstra); Riverside’s Sajon Belser (College of Charleston) and Carson Swank (Yale); West Potomac’s Jimmy Curley (High Point) and Tyler Rulapaugh (George Mason); and Woodgrove’s Brady Drawbaugh (Mount St. Mary’s) and Nick Lockhart (Virginia Tech).

Other Division I-bound area players include: C.D. Hylton’s Nick Ericsson (Virginia Commonwealth); Colonial Forge’s Jake Wortman (Bucknell); Fairfax’s Dylan Wilkinson (Maryland-Baltimore County); Freedom-South Riding’s Ben Williamson (William & Mary); Highland School’s Joe DeBardi (Mount St. Mary’s); Lake Braddock’s Lyle Miller-Green (George Mason); Loudoun County’s Donovan Burke (James Madison); Loudoun Valley’s Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech); Oakton’s Seth Richards (Villanova); Paul VI Catholic’s Cortland Lawson (Tennessee); Potomac’s Brody Mack (William & Mary); and Robinson’s Ethan Rothstein (James Madison).

Below are photos submitted for those who have had signing ceremonies this week. We will post on Twitter and update our story as other ceremonies are held and photos are submitted.














Fredericksburg Ballpark Will Mark New Era in P-Nats' 4-Decade Evolution


November 14 - The Silber family’s 20-year pursuit of a new ballpark finally gained finality last night, when Fredericksburg’s City Council unanimously approved the development and shared use agreement for a $35 million multi-purpose stadium that will open in April 2020 as the new home of the Potomac Nationals.

The agreement will mark the end of the long relationship between the Single-A Carolina League club and Woodbridge’s Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium, their home since 1984. The agreement was initially announced in June, but needed final approval from Minor League Baseball and the City of Fredericksburg.

It ends an effort by the club’s owner, Art Silber, that initially began in 1998 and has since included several rejected stadium proposals. In recent years, Silber’s daughter, Lani, who is the club’s president, has also played a key role during the pursuit of a new ballpark.

Per the agreement, the state-of-the-art stadium will be financed, built and maintained by the club in the Celebrate Virginia South economic development area. Fredericksburg will be considered an “anchor tenant” in exchange a $1.05 million annual payment over a 30-year period.

The franchise was initially established as the Alexandria Dukes in 1978 behind the efforts of the city’s longtime mayor, Frank Mann, and played its home games at Municipal Stadium (now Frank Mann Field) through the 1983 season. However, hurt by an inability to sell alcohol due to the ballpark sitting on public school grounds, the club sought a new stadium and moved into what is referred to simply as “The Pfitz” in 1984.

Over its four decades, the club has transitioned from the Dukes to the Cannons and for the past 14 seasons, has been known to many simply as the P-Nats. Mickey Mantle’s son played his lone (and forgettable) professional season in Alexandria, Bobby Bonilla became the most-famous player to don the Dukes’ threads, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols made their Minor League debuts with the club, and much of the core of the Yankees’ dynasty from 1996-2000 learned the pro game while suiting up at Pfitzner.

Here’s a timeline of important dates in the club’s 41-year history:

1977 - In December, a year after securing his third term as Alexandria’s mayor, Frank Mann gains the commitment of the Single-A Carolina League to award a franchise to Alexandria. It would mark the return of professional baseball to the Washington, D.C. area seven years after the Senators left to become the Texas Rangers.

1978 - In their inaugural season at 1,800-seat Municipal Stadium at Four Mile Run Park, the Alexandria Dukes played without a Major League affiliate and finished in last place in the first and second halves of the Single-A Carolina League season. In his lone professional season, Mickey Mantle Jr. hits .070 in 17 games, going 4-for-57 with 26 strikeouts.

1979 - After being picked up as an affiliate of Seattle, the club’s name is changed to the Alexandria Mariners, though just for one season. Gary Pellant makes professional baseball history, hitting grand slams from both the right and left sides in the same inning on April 30. After the season, Seattle moves its Single-A affiliate back to San Jose, CA.

1981 - After playing without an affiliate again in 1980, the Pittsburgh Pirates reach a six-year agreement with the club and re-adopt the Dukes as the team’s name. Pittsburgh’s affiliate had been based in Salem, where it played its home games at Kiwanis Field.

1982 - Behind the likes of future Major League outfielder Joe Orsulak, the Dukes win their first Carolina League championship, finishing 80-52 in the regular season and beating the Durham Bulls, 3-1, in the league championship series.

1983 - In July, team owner A. Eugene Thomas announces that the team will move to a new stadium the following season in Woodbridge. Bobby Bonilla, who would go on to become a six-time Major League All-Star, hits .256 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI in 136 games that season. He would be the highest-profile player to suit up for the Dukes.

1984 - In April, the newly-named Prince William Pirates open their inaugural campaign at Davis Ford Stadium, a $1 million ballpark with a seating capacity of 6,300. Two years later, the ballpark would be renamed Prince William County Stadium. In 1995, it was renamed again in honor of late Prince William County Board of Supervisors member and local lawyer G. Richard Pfitzner.

1985 - Barry Bonds makes his professional debut in late June, then earns Carolina League Player of the Month honors in July. He’d hit .299 with 13 homers, 37 RBI and 15 steals in 71 games during his tenure with Prince William and would make his Major League debut less then a year later in May 1986. Bonds would later win seven National League MVP Awards and set baseball’s all-time home run record.

1987 - After the Pirates move their affiliate back to Salem, the club reaches an agreement to become an affiliate of the New York Yankees. The partnership would last seven years and a number of players who would help the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1996-2000 would suit up for the club, including Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

1989 - The team adopts the “Cannons” moniker, which is would keep through 2004 as an affiliate of the Yankees, Chicago White Sox (1994-96), St. Louis Cardinals (1997-2002) and Cincinnati Reds (2003-04). That September, led by future Yankees manager Stump Merrill, the Cannons defeated Durham, 3-1, in the championship series to claim the club’s second Carolina League title.

1998 - A two-decade effort to secure a new ballpark begins, but Prince William County officials reject a proposal for a $150 million sports and entertainment proposal near the Potomac River. Owner Art Silber announces the team will change its name to the Potomac Cannons and an effort to move to Fairfax County.

2000 - In his first professional season, a 20-year-old Albert Pujols hits .284 with two homers and 10 RBI in a brief 21-game cameo with the Cannons. A year later, he’d win the National League Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .329 with 37 homers and 130 RBI with the Cardinals. Pujols has since won three NL MVP Awards over his 18-year career.

2001 - Fairfax County officials reject a proposal to build a $250 million stadium and apartment complex next to the Dunn Loring Metro station.

2005 - In February, with the Washington Nationals set to make their debut after the Montreal Expos relocated to the nation’s capital, the Cannons are acquired by Washington and renamed the Potomac Nationals. Silber also announces preliminary plans for a new stadium scheduled to open at an undecided site in Prince William County in 2007.

2007 - Still without funding approval for the new ballpark in Prince William, Silber’s proposal for a $22.5 million stadium is ultimately rejected by the county’s Board of Supervisors. The proposal called for the stadium’s funding to be split between the club and the county.

2008 - Behind future Washington Nationals pitchers Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen, the P-Nats win the first of two Carolina League titles over a three-year period.

2012 - In June, a fire caused by a gas leak damages the club’s business offices at Pfitzner Stadium and burns the costume of Uncle Slam, putting the club’s mascot out of commission for the remainder of the season.

2014 - The club wins the fifth Carolina League title in franchise history, and the third since affiliating with Washington.

2016 - In December, a renewed stadium proposal initially established in 2010 reportedly gains steam, with a potential $35 million ballpark along I-95 keeping the club in Prince William on a 30-year lease. The following July, however, the proposal was withdrawn when it became clear it wouldn’t garner enough votes from the county’s Board of Supervisors.

2018 - In January, Silber announces the club has extended its lease at Pftizner Stadium through the 2020 season, though would need to gain the approval of Minor League Baseball, which had mandated a new ballpark be secured by 2019. In June, the club finally gets approval for a new home and announces an agreement with the City of Fredericksburg to build a $35 million multi-purpose stadium that will open in April 2020. The deal for the stadium, which will have a capacity of 5,000 and will include a 300-seat club facility and 13 suites, was finalized in November.

Virginia Gains Commitment of Osbourn Park Freshman Balsis


November 14 - Mason Balsis has had an eventful fall.

The 6-foot, 180-pound catcher learned in September that he had made the USA Baseball 15U National Team roster for next summer’s team trials. Now, the Osbourn Park freshman has made a commitment to play for the University of Virginia, announcing his decision late last night via Twitter.

“So grateful and honored to announce my commitment to play baseball at UVA,” Balsis wrote on his Twitter handle. “I am thankful for my family, coaches and teammates for helping me get here.”

Balsis becomes the third area player from the Class of 2022 to commit to the Cavaliers, joining Paul VI Catholic left-hander Bradley Gagen and St. John’s (D.C.) right-hander Jack O’Connor, a resident of Arlington. The commitment of the three young players continues a recent trend of players committing to national-level Division I programs prior to making their prep debuts.

The freshman will turn 15 in January.

At Osbourn Park, he will play for coach Jack Ferrick, who has developed a reputation for developing catchers through his roles as a coach with the Yellow Jackets, the Marucci Stars travel program and the owner of his Prince William County-based Catchers U training academy.

“I have known Mason since he was seven years old, and he has always been a talented, humble and one of the hardest-working players I’ve had the opportunity to be around,” Ferrick wrote via text message this morning. “I’m looking forward to coaching him at Osbourn Park over the next four years.”

Balsis, who plays with the Stars, hit .467 with five RBI in seven games in June at the Perfect Game WWBA 14U National Championship. He reportedly recorded a 1.94 pop time (measuring the time between throws from home plate to second base) at the Perfect Game 14U National Showcase in Fort Myers, FL in August, then posted an impressive weekend at USA Baseball’s NTIS Champions Cup later that month en route to earning a spot on the national team.

Virginia went 29-25 overall and 12-18 in the Atlantic Coast Conference under coach Brian O’Connor this past spring, when it had a streak of 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances snapped. As the NCAA early signing period begins today for high school seniors, the Cavaliers are expected to secure a third straight Top 20 recruiting class.

Photo of Mason Balsis courtesy of Balsis family

After Impressive Triple-A Stint, Kalish Named to Royals’ Organizational All-Stars


November 13 - No matter the level, Jake Kalish seems to provide his club with consistent outings every time he takes the ball. That was no different in 2018, when the former George Mason University standout turned in an impressive campaign in the Kansas City Royals’ system.

The left-hander, a native of New Jersey, finished 2018 by going 6-6 with a 3.34 ERA and 88 strikeouts to 13 walks in 89 innings at Triple-A Omaha. Last week, MiLB.com named him to Kansas City’s Organizational All-Star Team.

During his tenure at George Mason, Kalish posted ERAs between 3.00 and 3.52 every year. Now, in four professional seasons, he’s never posted an ERA above 3.88 and recorded a career-best 2.45 in 23 relief appearances at Single-A in 2016. The southpaw’s consistency is further demonstrated by the fact that he has posted identical 3.32 ERAs both at the collegiate and professional levels.

After spending his first two pro seasons working out of the bullpen, he began a transition from a reliever to a starter in 2017 and this year set career highs with 18 starts and 127.2 innings between Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he began the season.

The continued development of Kalish, 27, has impressed former Patriots player and coach J.J. Picollo, who is the Royals’ assistant general manager for player personnel.

"Jake has always thrown strikes," Picollo told MiLB.com. "Really smart and good competitor and has just learned how to use his breaking ball three different ways. Little slider, cutter over the back edge, swings and misses, called strikes. … He just found his stride and keeps getting better. Jake is extending his career and applying things he's learned over the years, and he's turned into a pretty effective pitcher for us."

Kalish is expected to be in Kansas City’s spring training camp, where he’ll attempt to become the latest former George Mason pitcher to appear in the Majors. His former Patriots teammate, Chris O’Grady, pitched with the Miami Marlins the past two years. His older brother, Ryan Kalish, hit .245 in 387 at-bats over four seasons with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs between 2010 and 2016.

Photo of Jake Kalish courtesy of Omaha Storm Chasers

Perfect: Peltier's Dash Gives Stars 11U Camp Walk-Off Win, Unbeaten Fall Season


November 13 - Owen Peltier scored on a wild pitch to give the Marucci Stars 11U Camp a 5-4 walk-off win over the Washington Township (N.J.) Minutemen in Sunday’s championship game at the Ripken Baseball Veterans Day Tournament in Aberdeen, MD.

With the victory, the Stars completed an unbeaten fall season in dramatic fashion. The collection of fifth and sixth graders won each of their 27 games this fall and finished the year on a 56-game winning streak that spanned the final 29 games as a 10U team during the spring and summer. In 2018, they went 62-4 overall, won the final 10 tournaments they entered and won championships in six different states, going nearly seven months without a loss.

The Stars, which fielded the same 12-man roster for both seasons, were dominant in every facet. Offensively, they hit a collective .434 and averaged 11.2 runs per game in the 66 games. On the base paths, they swiped 443 bags. Defensively, they made plays behind a pitching staff that posted a 1.44 ERA in the spring and summer and a 2.15 ERA this fall.

Led by ace Ethan Hudson and dynamic shortstop Bryant James, who will play for the USA Baseball 12U National Team next summer, the Stars knocked off teams from some of the top youth travel programs on the east coast - including West Raleigh, the North Carolina-based Dirtbags, the EvoShield Canes Gilchrist, the Mid-Atlantic Show and the Tri-State Arsenal.

“I could write a book on the incredible memories I was able to share with this special group of kids this year,” coach Shawn Camp posted on his Facebook page. “The growth and development of them is far greater than the many wins and few losses.”

The impressive year wrapped on Sunday afternoon, when Peltier hit a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth, stole second and third, and came in when a ball four offering to Brady Burkhart got past the Minutemen catcher. The leadoff man’s winning run capped a comeback from a 3-1 fourth-inning deficit.

James, who was 2-for-2 with an RBI triple and tied the game at 3-3 when he stole home in the bottom of the fourth, earned the win after striking out the only two batters he faced when he came on in relief of Peltier in the top of the sixth. Hudson earned a no decision after striking out eight and allowing three runs over 4.2 innings.

“These boys share a special bond and they play for one another, which is something that is hard to teach,” Camp added.

Burkhart, Hudson, James and Peltier were joined on the team by Chase Allen, Garrett Camp, Gordon Cozad, Will Frye, Nicholas King, Caden Merritt, Luke Raflo and Joshua Weppner. Camp was assisted by a staff that included Jay Burkhart, J.P. Raflo and Kevin Peltier.

Photos courtesy of Marucci Stars

Recruiting Notebook: The Mag's Ultimate 2019 Northern Virginia Recruiting Class


November 12 - Wednesday marks the beginning of the NCAA’s week-long early signing period for high school seniors to sign their national letter of intent to play collegiately on an athletic scholarship.

As some of the area’s top players prepare to make their commitments official at ceremonies held by their respective schools and training academies, the magazine has compiled its own Class of 2019 recruiting class consisting of 14 of the best Northern Virginia seniors.

Our class would begin with three returning standouts from the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, Battlefield shortstop and right-hander Zach Agnos, who has committed to East Carolina, along with Potomac left-hander and outfielder Brody Mack (William & Mary) and Riverside shortstop Carson Swank (Yale).

Agnos is the best all-around player in the area, and with the additional 10-15 pounds of muscle he’s added to his frame already this offseason, he could be looking at a monster season next spring. Mack saw a dip in velocity late this fall after taking on a heavy workload over the summer and fall, this after tossing an area-high 81 innings while leading the Panthers to the Class 5 state final in the spring. After resting up this winter, it’s expected that he’ll return to his post as his team’s ace and a run-producing threat in the middle of the order. Swank, meanwhile, has been Mr. Consistent at shortstop as the Rams have quickly become one of the area’s top programs, turning in near-flawless defensive campaigns the past two seasons while developing into an extra-base hit machine last spring.

Another two-way standout in our class would be Lake Braddock first baseman and right-hander Lyle Miller-Green (George Mason), who has tremendous upside on the mound and hopes to return to the form of his sophomore season, when he was the Patriot District’s Pitcher of the Year. Oh, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound slugger is also one of the area’s best hitters, coming off a 2018 season in which he batted .416 with five home runs and 29 RBI.

Also joining our incoming crop of arms would be Loudoun Valley’s Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech), Woodbridge’s Magnus Ellerts (Harford Community College), Woodgrove’s Nick Lockhart (Virginia Tech), and two more southpaws in Loudoun County’s Donovan Burke (James Madison) and Madison’s Matt Howat, who is likely to make his college decision from several offers at some point this month. Agnos and Lockhart have both been clocked north of 90 MPH, and Miller-Green, Grupe, Ellerts and Burke could very well reach or eclipse that velocity in the spring. Burke is a late-bloomer of sorts, primed for a breakout senior campaign.

Another JMU-bound recruit, Robinson catcher Ethan Rothstein, would anchor the defense from behind the plate. A 6-foot-4, 205-pound three-sport standout, Rothstein wields a big bat and could push for playing time immediately when he arrives in Harrisonburg next fall.

Agnos and Swank would be joined by two additional infielders in Paul VI Catholic’s Cortland Lawson (Tennessee) and Freedom-South Riding’s Ben Williamson (William & Mary), forming perhaps the strongest unit with the highest upside in our recruiting class. Lawson will be asked to take on more of the offensive load in the spring and could also see his role expand to include pitching duties, having flashed a fastball reaching into the upper 80s. Williamson, meanwhile, is perhaps the most versatile defender of the group and will hit atop the Eagles’ lineup as they seek a second straight Class 5 state tournament appearance.

The outfielders in the class, meanwhile, would be led by Riverside’s dynamic Sajon Belser (College of Charleston) along with Battlefield’s Carter Cunningham (Gardner Webb) and Stone Bridge’s Paul Moore (Walters State CC). Belser, the son of former NFL safety Jason Belser, has run a 6.8 in the 60-yard dash and will set the table for Swank next spring. Cunningham has gap power from the left side and hopes to bounce back after a disappointing junior campaign. In fact, the Bobcats’ 2019 outlook could swing on his ability to do so and provide protection for Agnos after Battlefield lost several key offensive players.

Moore, meanwhile, could be considered our gamble of sorts. A player with a tremendous upside and a physical specimen at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, the left-handed swinging outfielder will have to take on more of the offensive load for the Bulldogs in the spring. Our bet is he ends up with a very good Division I program after his two seasons at the Tennessee junior college.

Panthers’ Josue Cumba Records Top 60 at PBR Showcase Event

Potomac’s Josue Cumba recorded the top 60-yard dash time at the Prep Baseball Report Mid-Atlantic Challenge on Nov. 4, as the senior infielder turned in a 6.91 time at the showcase held at the Virginia Sports Complex in Ruther Glen.

Heritage junior outfielder Nick Lampl was second among Northern Virginia players, recording a 6.97. Cumba’s twin brother, Julian, ran a 7.08 in the 60. The pitcher and third baseman was a second-team Class 5 all-state selection last spring. Both brothers remain uncommitted.

Elite high school middle infielders and outfielders can run a 60 in the neighborhood of 6.5-6.7. The best time ever recorded by Perfect Game was turned in by Mitchell Shifflett, who starred at Cosby in Midlothian and later played at the University of Virginia. He ran a 6.11 in 2009.

Woodbridge senior right-hander Magnus Ellerts had his fastball reach 88 MPH to top all pitchers at the event. Battlefield’s Matt Michel reached 86 MPH. To view the recorded metrics from PBR’s showcase, click here.

Howat Leads List of Uncommitted 2019 Pitchers as Early Signing Period Approaches

As the early signing period comes and goes, it will be interesting to follow the recruitment of several talented Class of 2019 pitchers that remain uncommitted.

The highest-profile area hurler that remains available continues to be Howat, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Madison southpaw who went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 73 strikeouts to just 14 walks in 57 innings en route to Concorde District and Co-Region 6D Pitcher of the Year honors last spring. He has garnered strong interest and several offers from Division I mid-major schools, and could make his decision soon.

Also available is Matt Michel, who is healthy again after suffering a back injury over the summer and has a fastball that has been clocked at 88 MPH. The right-hander, who was a first-team VISAA Division II all-state selection after going 4-0 and not allowing an earned run in 26.2 innings in the spring at Highland School, has transferred back to Battlefield for his senior year and continues to emerge under the tutelage of former Major League pitcher Shawn Camp, the Bobcats’ pitching coach.

Patriot’s Liam Fonner, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander, has consistently reach 88 MPH this fall and has shown improved command and consistency with his breaking ball. Others to keep an eye on include Fredericksburg Christian’s Joel Tarrh, Dominion lefty Dylan Weber, Riverside’s duo of David Setien and Gunnar Canary, Westfield’s duo of Danny Leo and Joe Clancy, and three lefties: O’Connell’s Peter Colevas, Yorktown’s Aiden Henning and Fauquier’s Harrison Whitt. Stafford’s Michael Tolson, who was previously committed to Old Dominion, also remains available as a potential two-way player.

Photos of from left to right, Battlefield’s Zach Agnos, Paul VI’s Cortland Lawson and Lake Braddock’s Lyle Miller-Green, by Fred Ingham

Field Set for 2019 Eddie Hope "Let's Play Two" Tournament


November 11 - The area’s biggest and longest-standing spring break tournament has its 2019 field set, C.D. Hylton coach Jason Ritenour has confirmed.

Initially established in 1996 as the Eddie Hope Invitational and later named the Let’s Play Two Tournament in 2007, the two names were combined and the annual event became known as the Eddie Hope “Let’s Play Two” Tournament in 2015. This coming April, it will once again be hosted at four schools in Prince William County - Hylton, Osbourn Park, Potomac and Woodbridge.

“We are excited to again host our annual tournament,” Ritenour said. “We are fortunate to have a 16 quality programs from five counties. Without the direction of our tournament director, Dave Przybocki, the continued success of this tournament would not be possible.”

In addition to the four host schools, that field will include Brentsville District, Colgan, Colonial Forge, Edison, Fauquier, Kettle Run, Marshall, McLean, Mountain View, Rock Ridge, Stafford and T.C. Williams. Three of the schools - Brentsville District, Fauquier, Potomac - are coming off seasons in which they advanced to their respective state tournaments.

This past spring, Potomac defeated McLean, 4-2, to win its first tournament championship since 2009.

The tournament format calls for the four pool winners to advance to bracket play, with teams that don’t advance participating in consolation games. Ritenour said the tournament schedule would be set following a late-winter coaches meeting.

Teams will play their pool play games on Friday and Saturday, April 12-13, with consolation and bracket play games held on Monday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 16.

Photo of Potomac’s Brody Mack by Noah Flesichman

Past Tournament Champions:

1996 - Riverdale Baptist
1997 - Gar-Field
1998 - DeMatha Catholic
1999 - C.D. Hylton
2000 - C.D. Hylton
2001 - West Springfield
2002 - C.D. Hylton
2003 - Centreville
2004 - Potomac
2005 - Potomac/C.D. Hylton
2006 - Riverdale Baptist
2007 - Oakton
2008 - Notre Dame Academy
2009 - Potomac
2010 - Woodbridge
2011 - West Springfield
2012 - Osbourn Park
2013 - Osbourn Park
2014 - C.D. Hylton
2015 - McLean
2016 - C.D. Hylton
2017 - Kettle Run
2018 - Potomac

Kamide’s Korner: Latest Mass Shooting Hits Home For Everyone in Baseball Community


November 10 - There was nobody that represented what America should be more than Cody Coffman. And yet, it is today’s America that has taken him from us.

Only 22, Cody was one of the 12 victims of the mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, CA on Wednesday night. He was a USSSA umpire and the chief umpire for the Camarillo Pony Baseball youth league, wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat around town, and planned to enlist in the Army. He had three young brothers that looked up to him, and a little sister on the way, due to be born at the end of the month.

She will never get to meet him.

Blake Dingman was 21 years old, a former baseball player at nearby Hillcrest Christian School. He was also one of the victims killed on Wednesday night.

This column isn’t directly related to Northern Virginia, which is what I generally write about. I don’t care. This latest shooting, which occurred some 2,700 miles away on the other side of the country, should hit home for anyone involved in the game of baseball. Mass shootings have become the norm in our country, they represent what apparently is the new America.

Coffman was a leader who "loved working with the kids,” commented an umpiring colleague. He died while attempting to protect others, according to several reports. By all accounts, and I’ve read and watched several online these past two days, he had a tremendous future ahead of him. Dingman was described by his high school coach in a story in the Thousand Oaks Acorn as someone with a “magnetic personality,” adding that, “He loved the game of baseball but he loved his friends and family even more.”

It’s got to stop. For parents in our area, simply go online and watch the video of Coffman’s father, who was donning a Los Angeles Dodgers hat in front of reporters when he revealed that his son was one of the victims. The man had just had his life ripped to shreds, and watching him is heartbreaking. That could be any of you. Cody and Blake could be any of us.

Just a few days before Veterans Day Weekend, two military veterans - a former Navy SEAL and former Marine - were among those killed in the shooting. The shooter was also a military veteran, reportedly suffering from PTSD. Since the shooting at the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 90 people have been shot in 12 mass shootings in the United States - and 36 died. One of the shootings occurred in Watertown, N.Y., where my cousin is a police officer. A police officer at the Thousand Oaks shooting was also one of the victims after reporting to the scene and entering the bar in attempt to halt the shooter. That sure gives me pause.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am pro guns, and that I’m a republican who voted for Donald Trump. And while our President does, says or tweets something each day to make me question that ballot, my ability to defend our laws regarding firearms also wanes.

It’s one of the biggest issues facing our country today, and something needs to change.

We had two taken from our extended baseball family on Wednesday night. Our military, celebrating their brothers this weekend, now mourns additional unnecessary losses. This morning, the league that Coffman umpired for will be holding a moment of silence at 7:50 a.m. their time - 10:50 a.m. EST - at Veterans Field in Camarillo, CA’s Freedom Park. I challenge everyone reading this column to take that moment to reflect on what’s important in your life, and what it would be like to have that taken away in an instant.

I know I will be.

Rest in peace, Cody and Blake. Many of our readers are thousands of miles away, but very much present with your loved ones and with heavy hearts this morning.

Photos of Blake Dingman, left, and Cody Coffman, right, courtesy of their respective families

Recruiting Notebook: Virginia/DC Teams Sweep at PBR Mid-Atlantic Challenge


November 8 - Lake Braddock’s Bobby Leitzel went 2-for-3 and had a go-ahead RBI double in the Class of 2019 game and Battlefield’s Peter Benevides drove home the winning run in the Class of 2020 contest as the Virginia/DC teams swept three games from the Maryland/Delaware representatives at Prep Baseball Report’s Mid-Atlantic Challenge on Sunday in Ruther Glen.

Leitzel, a left-handed swinging middle infielder, provided all the offense the Virginia/DC team would need in the day’s nightcap as four pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 win. Matt Michel (Battlefield), Gunner Canary (Riverside) and David Setien (Riverside) each tossed two scoreless frames, and Magnus Ellerts (Woodbridge), one of the game’s few committed players after accepting an offer to Maryland’s Harford Community College a couple days prior to the event, struck out two while earning the save with a scoreless seventh. Setien fanned three.

In the 2020 game earlier in the day, Benevides doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth as Virginia/DC won, 4-3. Gavin Collins (Centreville) reached three times - doubling and walking twice - and Blake Fisher (Highland School) drew a walk and struck out two in a perfect inning of work. The day’s first game, featuring freshmen and sophomores, was won by Virginia/DC, 8-3, behind the play of Diego Barrett (C.D. Hylton) and Grant Hartman (Lake Braddock).

The invite-only event featured many of the area’s top uncommitted players in their respective classes and included a workout, batting practice and the three contests It was held at the Virginia Sports Complex. Reports from the games were provided by the PBR staff.

PrimeTime’s College Showcase Expecting Over 20 Schools on Saturday

Organizers of the college showcase hosted by PrimeTime Baseball on Saturday are expecting nearly two dozen college coaches from throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region, and the event sold out earlier this week.

Scheduled to be held in the morning at Frank Mann Field in Alexandria and in the afternoon at Barcroft Park in Arlington, the showcase will follow a recruiting seminar hosted by PrimeTime and featuring Georgetown University coach Pete Wilk on Friday night.

Players interested in registering for the recruiting seminar or being added to the showcase’s wait list can do so by contacting John Skaggs at jskaggs23@gmail.com. College coaches interested in attending are also requested to contact Skaggs.

College Commitments Heat Up as NCAA Early Signing Period Approaches

Many area players have made their college commitments in recent weeks leading up to the beginning of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) early signing period, which begins on Wednesday.

The magazine posts stories on players committing to Division I scholarships, and requests that players and coaches announcing those commitments contact us or tag the magazine’s Twitter page when a player makes his decision.

Players from Northern Virginia schools to commit to Division I programs this fall include Colonial Forge senior catcher and first baseman Jake Wortman, Paul VI Catholic freshman left-hander Bradley Gagen, Bishop O’Connell junior shortstop and pitcher Eddie Eisert, Fairfax senior infielder Dylan Wilkinson, Kettle Run junior pitcher and third baseman Joe Vogatsky, Loudoun County senior lefty Donovan Burke and Chantilly senior pitcher and shortstop Dylan Siesky.

There are an estimated 50,000 collegiate baseball players rostered by over 1,600 programs nationally each year. NCAA programs at the Division I and Division II level are able to offer athletic scholarships. Players also have opportunities to play at the NCAA Division III level, in the three divisions of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Photo of Bobby Leitzel courtesy of Lake Braddock Baseball

Notebook: Colonial Forge’s Wortman Commits to Bucknell


November 7 - Jake Wortman made his college decision earlier today, as the Colonial Forge catcher and first baseman committed to play at Bucknell University. His decision was confirmed this evening by Eagles coach Dave Colangelo.

A four-year letterman, Wortman hit .345 with two home runs, 13 RBI and 14 stolen bases last spring. Colonial Forge went 10-12 and advanced to the Region 6B Tournament before falling in the quarterfinals, 9-1, to eventual region champion Cosby.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound switch hitter plays in the offseason with the EvoShield Canes travel program.

“Bucknell is such a great fit with baseball and academics for Jake,” Colangelo wrote via text message. “There aren’t many high school athletes that work as hard as Jake on the field and in the classroom. The recruiting process takes a toll on these kids, and I’m glad he found the right fit and can now enjoy his senior year and concentrate on getting himself to the highest level possible.”

The Bison went 17-27-1 overall and 13-10-1 in the Patriot League in 2018 under Scott Heather, who is in his seventh season as the program’s head coach after spending eight years as an assistant.

Dominion, Falls Church to Co-Host Spring Break Tournament

Dominion and Falls Church will be hosting the Titan/Jaguar Classic over spring break, and Titans coach Jeff Berg and Jaguars coach Chris Nolan are looking to fill the tournament’s field.

Berg and Dominion have previously co-hosted the tournament with Stone Bridge, Riverside and Loudoun County. The 2019 event will be the first time a non-Loudoun County school has been a host.

The tournament will be held from April 13-17, with games held on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday as a rain date. Coaches seeking more information or looking to register can contact Berg at jberg@kempersports.com.

Lightle’s Naturals 3-1 at Roy Hobbs World Series in Florida

Justice coach Randy Lightle and his 65-and-over Naturals team are 3-1 with one pool play game remaining in the Vintage Division at the Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, FL.

The 71-year-old Lightle is in his 12th year bringing the team to the annual tournament as a player and manager. The Naturals suffered their first loss of the week earlier today, dropping a 26-6 decision to the NorCal Antiques. They had opened play with wins over the Cincinnati Colt .45s, the Kenmore Eastern Brewers and Lehigh Baseball.

The Naturals will play the San Antonio Texas in a seeding contest tomorrow before opening play in bracket play on Friday.

In its 30th year, the Roy Hobbs World Series crowns champions in seven divisions - from a 35+ Veterans Division up to a 75+ Forever Young Division - over a four-week period each fall. Players into their 80s play at fields such as jetBlue Park, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, and historic Terry Park, which has hosted Major League spring training games since 1925 and has had Hall of Famers such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Roberto Clemente, Jimmy Foxx, Bob Feller, Tris Speaker and George Brett play on its field.

Photo of Jake Wortman by Jen Muhlenbruck

Kamide’s Korner: The Evolution of Josh Gjormand, College Ballplayer


November 6 - When I first met Josh Gjormand, he was 3 years old. It was 2005, and I was in my first season coaching as an assistant under his father, Pudge, at Madison High School.

It didn’t take me long to realize that Josh was going to have a long relationship with the game of baseball. He was the son of a coach who was well on his way to becoming a baseball icon in Vienna and in Northern Virginia. That would certainly allow for him to be around the game, to learn the game from an early age, and to either embrace the game - or resent it. Not all coaches’ sons, after all, grow up to dig the game as much as their pops.

Josh did.

A fixture at Madison’s practices and games and at the summer camps his father runs, Josh immersed himself in the game as he came up in the Reston Little League and with the MVP Terps and MVP Royals travel teams. Early on, Pudge would boast proudly of how advanced his son’s knowledge was of the many intricacies the game offered - how many elementary school kids do you know who study a pitcher’s move? Or try and pick up an opposing team’s signs? He latched onto Pudge’s deep network of coaches, learning pitching from the likes of Morgan Spencer, John Thomas, J.J. Hollenbeck, Jason Farley and Justin Counts, hitting from Counts, Galvin Morris and Scott Rowland, base running from Andrew Baird and T.J. Ehrsam, and how to initially adapt to the high school game from Warhawks JV coach Robbie Robeson.

But despite being around all that knowledge, it wasn’t always easy.

As anyone who has played for Pudge will tell you, he can be tough. The coach consistently demands your best, and that is a major reason for the success of his teams. It’s also what makes him at times hard to play for, and some kids over the past two decades have backed down from those expectations. The one’s who haven’t have helped him build one of the state’s top programs. It’s like Tom Hanks said in ‘A League of Their Own’, “The hard is what makes it great”.

Josh has spent his childhood around that intimidating presence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I witnessed the tough love several times, and have often wondered how I would have responded in the same situation. Pudge hasn’t created a ‘Daddy Ball’ environment for his sons - Josh or his younger brother, Trevor - to coast through the game with every advantage and having things handed to them. It’s probably accepted that he was harder on Josh than any of his players, and wanted to ensure he earned everything he was given. It’s been tough love, but in the end, it’s simply been love.

And what his sons maybe don’t always know is that their father - the skipper with the enormous presence dubbed for years as the “Mayor of Vienna” - can be a big softie and lights up when their names are brought up by his coaching buddies. As hard as Pudge has pushed Josh, he’s also the first one to praise him.

And that praise certainly doesn’t come exclusively from his father.

“I have literally watched Josh grow up on the baseball field and I couldn’t be more proud of the things he has accomplished,” Spencer said. “He has always been an extremely hard and motivated player. It can’t be easy growing up in the shadows of the best coach in Northern Virginia, let alone playing for him as your dad. I know it hasn’t been easy, [and] he earned every bit of playing time he got.”

Added Baird, the former Stone Bridge coach who has returned to Madison’s staff, via Twitter: “For the last 18 [years], I have watched a boy grow into an amazing young man. I got a call from him tonight thanking me for my help over the years and that he had committed to further his baseball career at Lynchburg … I am very proud of you and excited for you.”

Josh never backed down from the pressure of being Pudge’s son. He embraced it, overcame the “coaches’ son” label through his play on the field, and did so while growing up in a championship-hungry baseball community. He’s grown some thick skin, a trait that was never more evident then when he heard criticism of his father from other players, parents or members of the community - which somehow exists despite over 400 wins and two state titles. He simply used that as fuel and continued about his business with the quiet confidence that now defines him as a player.

“He’s a tough competitor on the mound and at the plate,” Rowland said. “He approaches the game the right way, and it’s obvious he comes to play every game.”

Josh mastered the left-handed pickoff move largely from his work with Spencer, the southpaw head coach at South Lakes who set pickoff records in high school and college and the reason he chose to wear No. 18 at Madison. He learned how to be efficient - he tossed a 53-pitch, 6-inning complete game against Chantilly last spring - and to locate multiple pitches from the likes of Counts, Madison’s longtime pitching coach, and Thomas, the new skipper at Lake Braddock who coached him on several youth teams.

“He plays the game as hard as he can every time he takes the field and backs down from no one,” Thomas said. “His overall baseball IQ and feel for the game is off the charts for a high school kid. I’d take nine of him any day of the week.”

He’s grown up in the epitome of a baseball family: both parents have baseball-themed personalized license plates; his older sister, Samantha, was the Warhawks’ team manager and now holds the same duties at JMU; vacations are based around baseball tournaments and trips; and he’s spent maybe 100 (or more?) games in his father’s seats along the third base line at Nationals Park. Growing up, Josh had two dozen de facto older brothers on the Warhawks that he was around for four months beginning each February. He studied their games and how they prepared. Now, he’s one of those Warhawks in his final year at the school and passing that knowledge onto his younger brother.

Josh has battled a lack of physical stature - he’s 5-foot-10 and maybe 160 pounds - with a fastball that might reach 80 MPH on a good day. Nonetheless, he hit his way into a second-team Region 6D selection as a first baseman last spring, and on the mound finds ways to miss bats while shutting down the running game. He’s an outstanding defender who routinely bails fellow infielders out by picking errant throws, and provides on-field leadership as an extension of the coaching staff.

Late last month, we saw the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and preparation when he accepted an offer to play at the University of Lynchburg. For many of us, it was the next - and perhaps, most important - step in who we first knew as a youngster becoming a man.

“It finally sunk in that my little boy is a senior when he made that call to [Lynchburg] coach [Lucas] Jones on Monday night to commit,” Pudge wrote on his Facebook page. “So proud of the way he goes about his business and the young man he's become!”

Added Spencer: “He is an extremely smart and tough little player, Lynchburg is getting a great young man and player. He is tough as nails, has a desire to win, and most importantly, knows how to win.”

Congratulations Josh, you’ve made a lot of people involved in Northern Virginia baseball very proud. Including this writer.

Photos of Josh Gjormand by Albert Jacquez

Travel Notebook: Paul VI Frosh Gagen Latest Young, Unproven Arm to Commit to UVA


November 5 - Brian O’Connor and his staff at the University of Virginia earlier today gained the commitment of Paul VI Catholic freshman left-handed pitcher Bradley Gagen, the Cavaliers’ latest commitment from a young Northern Virginia arm.

The 6-foot-1, 150-pound Gagen had his fastball clocked at 80 MPH two weeks ago at the Perfect Game WWBA Freshman World Championship, when he struck out six in five innings but was reached for three runs on three hits and four walks for his EvoShield Canes 15U American travel team.

The left-handed swinging Gagen plays first base and in the outfield when not on the mound. His twin brother, Jack, is a freshman catcher at Paul VI. The two reside in Ashburn.

“Congrats [UVA] and congrats Bradley,” Paul VI coach Billy Emerson posted on his Twitter page this afternoon. “We’re glad to have you (and your twin) for the next four years!”

The Panthers went 24-7 last spring, advancing to the semifinals of both the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and VISAA Division I state tournaments. Emerson’s staff is expected to be anchored in 2019 by senior lefty Nick Ortega, a second-team All-WCAC selection who will pitch for the University of Mary Washington. Paul VI graduated three Division I hurlers in Thomas Russell (Naval Academy), Jack Weeks (Georgetown) and Carter Spivey (East Carolina).

Two years ago, Virginia gained the commitment of Bishop O’Connell lefty Jake Berry during the fall of his freshman year. The 6-foot-8 Berry is expected to make his high school debut as a junior this spring after battling multiple knee injuries and a bout with cancer last winter.

The Cavaliers have also landed early commitments from three area pitchers: Patriot junior Riley Eikhoff, Justice sophomore lefty Dean Kampschror and St John’s (D.C.) freshman Jack O’Connor, a resident of Arlington. All three committed prior to their sophomore seasons.

Virginia and pitching coach Karl Kuhn have a track record of recruiting and developing pitchers from the area, producing Major League Baseball draft selections Josh Sborz (McLean), Alec Bettinger (C.D. Hylton) and Tommy Doyle (Flint Hill) since 2015. The Cavaliers went 29-25 overall and 12-18 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last spring, snapping a 14-year streak of earning NCAA Tournament appearances under O’Connor.

Photo courtesy of Gagen Family

Outlaws Join Mag Advertising Team; D-BAT Atlantic, Crozier’s C5T Academy Renew Deals


November 2 - The Mizuno Outlaws have signed on and will join D-BAT Atlantic and Crozier’s Five Tool (C5T) Baseball Acadmey Baseball Academy as banner advertisers as a package deal with the magazine.

The three businesses, owned by Leonard Stephens and Eric Crozier, operate out of the Perfect Performance NOVA training center in Tyson’s Corner. With the agreement, all three will attain All-Star Package status through October 2019.

Stephens, who starred as a tight end at nearby Howard University in Washington D.C., played six seasons in the National Football League with the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. Crozier played professionally for 11 seasons and appeared with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004. He is the head baseball coach at the Potomac School in McLean and the director of D-BAT Atlantic.

The Mizuno Outlaws, founded by John DeSimone in 2014, are overseen by Tyler Womer, the director of baseball operations.  The program fields travel teams from 8U-14U that play in the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League and at tournaments throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. For more information on the Outlaws, visit www.outlawsbaseball.com.

D-BAT, short for Dallas Baseball Academy of Texas, was originally formed in 1998 and now fields over 50 teams nationally from 7U-18U. The program has helped produce over 250 professional players and several Major Leaguers, including Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. In 2016, Crozier oversaw the establishment of the program’s east coast program and now fields teams from players discovered at their tryouts in Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Georgia and Pennsylvania. Fore more information on the program, visit www.dbatatlantic.com.

The C5T Baseball Academy was established in 2013, providing hitting, fielding, pitching and throwing/arm care training for players ages 8 and up via small group lessons, clinics and summer camps. It also hosts an annual college showcase each summer in Washington, PA. For more information on the academy, visit www.perfect-performancenova.com.

Area businesses interested in advertising with the magazine can inquire by emailing us here.

Complete Game to Debut Expanded Manassas Facility Next Month


November 1 - A fall renovation project will wrap in the coming weeks, and an expanded Complete Game Sports & Fitness will re-open for baseball, softball and fitness training next month.

Owned by the triumvirate of Mike Colangelo, Shawn Camp and Jack Ferrick, Complete Game originally opened in 2015 and serves as the home to Colangelo Baseball, the Shawn Camp Pitching Academy, Catchers U and Athlete’s Addiction Strength & Speed. The four academies are tenants at the Kim Sports facility in Manassas, which also hosts games and instruction for soccer, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, cheerleading and other sports.

The 75-day renovation to will add four batting cages - increasing Complete Game’s total to 12 - will include a bullpen area equipped with video and Rapsodo technology, a turf area for defensive and agility work, multiple 35-yard speed lanes, a 4,500-square foot weight training area, and other amenities such as a pro shop and video studio for coaches and players to watch film.

All told, Complete Game’s expanded training area will approach 30,000 square feet.

“It allows us to be a one-stop shop with players having access to a weight room, nutrition, hitting, pitching and infield instruction,” Colangelo said. “And I think we’ve got some great instructors as well. This gives [players and their parents] a chance to see first-hand what a first-rate facility should look like.”

Colangelo, a former Major League outfielder, also serves as the head coach at nearby Colgan High School and the general manager of the Marucci Stars travel program. Camp, who pitched in the Majors for 11 seasons, is the pitching coach at Battlefield High School and the assistant general manager of the Stars. Ferrick is in his seventh year as the coach at Osbourn Park High School.

The three will host a Grand Re-Opening Camp on Dec. 1 for players ages 9-14 to allow the baseball community a first glimpse at the additions. The academies will begin winter camps, lessons and cage rentals soon after.

For more information on Complete Game and its services, visit www.completegameva.com.

Photos by Joey Kamide

Pro Notebook: Guyer’s Option Not Exercised by Indians, Outfielder Becomes Free Agent


October 31 - The Cleveland Indians yesterday declined their 2019 option on outfielder Brandon Guyer, electing to instead pay the Herndon High School graduate a $250,000 buyout. After a five-day waiting period, he will become an unrestricted free agent and eligible to sign with any club.

Guyer, 32, has battled injuries over the past two seasons while on two-year, $5 million deal he signed after helping Cleveland reach the World Series in 2016. His contract included a $3 million club option with language including the buyout should the Indians decide not to retain him in 2019.

Acquired at the 2016 trade deadline, Guyer hit .333 in 81 at-bats to help Cleveland to the American League Central championship that year, then hit .333 in 18 postseason at-bats as the Indians pushed the Chicago Cubs to seven games in the World Series. His eighth-inning RBI double helped the Indians rally to tie Game 7 before the Cubs won the clincher in extra innings.

Guyer hit .220 in 359 at-bats over the past two seasons.

In other news related to local big leaguers, the future of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Justin Bour (Westfield) is one of the decisions facing the team’s front office entering the offseason. Bour is expected to receive a raise through arbitration to around $5 million in 2019, a high price tag for a player listed as third on the depth chart at first base. The Phillies have him under control through 2020.

New York Mets reliever Bobby Wahl (West Springfield), who ended the season on the 60-day disabled list due to a hamstring injury, is on the club’s 40-man roster and is expected to battle for a spot on the Mets’ opening day roster during spring training.

Jarrett Parker (Colonial Forge), who missed the 2018 season, has been rehabbing his shoulder at the San Francisco Giants’ spring training facility in Arizona and could sign a minor league deal with the Giants or another club. Parker has been attempting to return to 100 percent since breaking his clavicle when he slammed into the outfield wall at AT&T Park in San Francisco robbing Colorado’s D.J. LeMahieu of an extra-base hit on April 15, 2017. He had began that season as the Giants’ opening day starter in left field.

Brandon Snyder (Westfield) elected minor league free agency after spending the majority of the season at Triple-A Durham. He made a two-game appearance with the Tampa Bay Rays in April, the fifth Major League team he has suited up for.

Other area players who will enter spring training with hopes of earning a spot on their big league club include right-hander Taylor Clarke (Broad Run) with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ryan McBroom (Courtland) with the New York Yankees and lefty Jake Kalish, a New Jersey native who pitched at George Mason University, with the Kansas City Royals. All three spent the majority of the 2018 season at Triple-A.

Another local who could make a push during spring training is pitcher J.B. Bukauskas (Stone Bridge), who came on strong late this summer after an injury slowed the start of his second professional season. The No. 15 overall selection by Houston in 2017, Bukauskas has impressed during the Arizona Fall League.

Royals Prospect Khalil Lee Named to AFL’s Fall Stars Game; Bukauskas Impresses with 98 MPH Fastball

Despite an inconsistent Arizona Fall League campaign with the Surprise Saguaros, Kansas City Royals farmhand Khalil Lee has been named to Saturday’s West roster in the league’s annual Fall Stars Game. The game, held in Surprise, AZ, will feature many of baseball’s top prospects and will air on the MLB Network at 8 p.m.

The Flint Hill graduate entered the day hitting .196 with a .260 on-base percentage in 46 at-bats with the Surprise Saguaros. The left-handed swinging outfielder is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Royals’ system by MLBPipeline.com. Lee was featured by MLB.com prior to the AFL season beginning in a story here.

J.B. Bukauskas (Stone Bridge), meanwhile, was impressive in his first two outings in the Arizona Fall League prior to surrendering four runs on seven hits over 4.1 innings in his most-recent start.

In his first two appearances with the Scottsdale Scorpions, he struck out nine to two walks and allowed just one unearned run in 7.1 innings. Bukauskas was featured in a story on MLB.com after striking out four and scattering two hits over four scoreless innings in an 8-0 win against the Peoria Javelinas on Oct. 18. He worked consistently from 94-96 MPH and reached 98 MPH with his fastball, flashing his slider that has him considered as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects while working in a handful of changeups and cutters.

"I think the slider was probably my best pitch today," Bukauskas told MLB.com. "The slider is kind of my go-to. I think it has been for a while. If I have a good feel for it on the day, I'm going to lean pretty heavily on it."

The area’s third player participating in the AFL, Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand Andre Scrubb (C.D. Hylton), has compiled a 3.38 ERA in 5.1 innings over his five relief outings with the Glendale Desert Dogs.

As Pirates Shift Single-A Affiliate to Greensboro, Skipper Toregas Awaits 2019 Coaching Assignment

As the Pittsburgh Pirates move its Single-A affiliate from Charleston, W.V. to Greensboro, N.C. for the 2019 season, it is unclear whether manager Wyatt Toregas will skipper the club for a third season in 2019 or be assigned another position within the club’s minor league staff.

Toregas, an all-state catcher at South Lakes and later an All-Big East selection at Virginia Tech before appearing in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates, managed the rookie-level West Virginia Black Bears in 2016. He skippered the West Virginia Power the past two seasons. Both the Power and the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Pirates’ new affiliate, play in the South Atlantic League.

Toregas, 35, is currently listed on the Grasshoppers’ website as their manager. The minor league staffs for Major League clubs are generally announced in November or December.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.

Photo of Brandon Guyer courtesy of Major League Baseball

South County Hires Longtime West Potomac Assistant Nelson


October 30 - Scott Nelson has been hired as the new head coach at South County High School, the magazine confirmed earlier today.

A native of Minnesota who played collegiately at Division II Minnesota Duluth, Nelson coached for one year at a private school near his alma mater before moving to the area to attend graduate school at George Washington. He later joined the staff at West Potomac, where he served as the junior varsity head coach from 2008-10 and as a varsity assistant from 2011-18.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Nelson said. “South County has had one of the best high school programs in the area over the past decade - of course you think of the 2011 team [that went 28-1 and advanced to the Group AAA state final] - and I can’t wait to get going.”

Nelson, 36, coached for his entire tenure with the Wolverines under former coach Jim Sullivan, who he credits for preparing him for his first head coaching position. “Jim is, was, and will be my mentor going forward,” he said. “He’s passed along a lot of good info to me, the biggest being that the kids are the most important thing. They are what it’s really all about, what changes your perspective and really motivates you.”

South County’s new director of student activities, Brett Garner, interviewed Nelson and other candidates on Friday and called him yesterday to offer the position. Garner also comes from a baseball background, having played at Lake Braddock and James Madison University, then serving as an assistant under former Bruins coach Jody Rutherford before getting into administration.

“Coach Nelson comes to South County with a breadth of leadership and baseball experience both at the high school and collegiate level,” Garner wrote in an email today. “[At West Potomac], he helped to elevate the program to some highest levels of success in school history.”

Nelson will become the Stallions’ third coach in as many years, as Mark Luther’s second tenure with the program lasted just one season. He inherits a program that went 9-12 last spring, when its season ended with a 7-4 loss to Robinson in the Patriot District quarterfinals. Since fielding its first team in 2006, South County has been one of Northern Virginia’s most-consistent programs, averaging 15.2 wins per season and winning four district championships. The program’s most-recent league title came in 2013 under coach Robbie Smith.

“We’ve only got a little over 100 days until the season,” Nelson said. “I know they’ve got some really strong pieces coming back that we can work with, and in talking to some parents I know that we’ve got some nice [players] coming up.

“I’m really excited to get to work.”

Photo of Scott Nelson courtesy of West Potomac Baseball