In this new series here at From VA to the Show, we pick an all-time team of players who have come from Virginia. This team will encompass a starting lineup, including a DH, a 5-man starting rotation, a bullpen, and a bench. Altogether, this will be a 30-man roster of the greatest ballplayers to come out of the Commonwealth.
We start with picking a first baseman.
The clear choice to man first base on Team Virginia is George McQuinn. A native of Arlington, McQuinn played from 1936-1948, a total of 12 seasons, with Cincinnati, the old St Louis Browns, the old Philadelphia Athletics, and the New York Yankees. He was a 6-time all-star-a 7th appearance, the 1945 game, was cancelled due to US travel restrictions in place related to the war. For his career, he played in 1550 games and batted .276 with 135 HR and 794 RBIs, and on three occasions, he batted north of .300.
One of those .300+ seasons came in 1947, as he batted .304 with 13 HR and 80 RBIs, a key cog for the New York Yankees, as they won the World Series. McQuinn retired after the 1948 season, and went on to do some scouting for the Senators and Expos in his post-playing days.
McQuinn was inducted into the Arlington Sports HOF in 1958, its very first inductee, and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.
George McQuinn died on Christmas Eve, 1978.
The Seattle Mariners fielded a team in the Appalachian League from 2008-2014, calling Pulaski home. Their final season in town was a dismal one, attendance-wise. They drew a dismal 26K+ total attendance, averaging less than 900 fans a game. Seattle decided to pull up stakes after ’14, and when that happened, Pulaski was quickly scooped up by the New York Yankees.
The Yankees were so excited about the potential of this community embracing their affiliate that they decided to help the town prepare. They invested millions of dollars in upgrades, additions and renovations, to Calfee Park, and even helped fund an extended living facility in town so that the players could live in Pulaski for the duration of the season. (By contrast, the Mariners players stayed at a hotel outside of town during the course of the season.)
In return, the community embraced the team, and boy did they embrace them!
The Appalachian League attendance totals came out for the season this week, and not only did Pulaski win the attendance crown this year, but they broke Greenville’s 9-year hold on the crown! That is right, for the last 9 years, the G-Astros were the top draw in the Appalachian League, but in 2015, their streak came to an end, as Pulaski edged them out by approximately 2800 fans, meaning more than double what Pulaski did in their last season with the Mariners. Pulaski also finished as the top average-per-game draw in the league, again more than double their 2014 figure.
Jhon Morban threw 5 innings, but a bad second inning, in which he ended up allowing 5 runs, did them in. Pulaski could not recover, and the Yankees’ inaugural season in Pulaski comes to an end, as Princeton will go on to play for the Appalachian League title.
Princeton takes Game 2. Nestor Cortes pitched 5 2/3 solid innings, but a bullpen collapse will send this to a third and deciding game tomorrow night in Pulaski. Winner will play for the Appalachian League championship.
The Appalachian League playoffs kicked off, with the Pulaski Yankees traveling to Princeton for Game 1 of the best of 3 opening round.
It took a little overtime, but Pulaski pulled it out.
Carlos Vidal came through in the clutch, delivering an RBI single in the 10th inning to give Pulaski a win, which was sealed when Andrew Schwaab came on to pitch the bottom of the inning. After shaking off a lead off double, he got the job done, including 2 strikeouts.
Pulaski will come home for Game 2 tomorrow night, one win from a spot in the Appy League finals.
To continue our series looking at future diamond stars out of the Commonwealth, let us now head to the big city, New York.
In 2014, while all of the focus was on the final season for star shortstop Derek Jeter, it overlooked the fact that the Yankees missed the playoffs for the second straight year, the first time in over 20 years they had missed consecutive postseasons. The Yankees were the dynasty of baseball in the late 90s and early 2000s; since 1996, they have won 7 American League Pennants and 5 World Series titles, largely based on a combination of free agent signings and a farm system that produced key components like Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, etc.
But with the retirement of Jeter, the Yankees are clearly in a rebuilding mode now, and one of the components that will need to be tweaked is the bullpen. Fortunately, the Yankees have a possible answer in-house, LHP Tyler Webb.
Webb, who was born and raised in he tiny town of Nassawadox, a coastal community on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, was drafted by the Yankees in the 2013 draft, after a college career in which he won 2 College World Series titles with the USC Game Cocks, won numerous college awards, and in his senior season notched 17 saves as the Gamecocks closer.
After being drafted by the Yankees, he started out at Short-Season Staten Island, but after just 2 weeks, he was promoted to Charleston, where he posted a 3.86 ERA and 40 SO in 30 1/3 innings, walking only 6. In 2014, he started one level up, at High-A Tampa. With Tampa he pitched in 8 games, posting a 2.77 ERA, and struck out 17 in 13 innings, walking only 1. He was then moved up to Double-A, where he did struggle to a 4+ ERA, but struck out 51 in 35 innings, with 14 walks. He also posted 7 saves. He was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, which is just 2 hours from Yankee Stadium. At AAA, he posted a 2-0 record and notched 26 Strikeouts in 20 innings, walking only 7. This is where he finished the 2014 season.
For his minor league career, he is 6-7 with a 3.63 ERA and 15 saves. In 104 innings pitched, he has 142 strikeouts and only 30 walks.
By Opening Day 2015, Tyler Webb will be only 24 years old. He is likely to be given a chance to earn a spot in the Yankees bullpen as the Yankees try to ensure there is no 3rd consecutive season of sitting at home in October.
I like Yankees RP Tyler Webb (Nassawadox) as part of the next wave of Virginia talent.