“To be a Virginian is a tremendous responsibility. So much is expected of us.”
-Nancy Astor, first woman seated to British House of Commons
In the last 15 years or so, the Commonwealth of Virginia has emerged as a goldmine of baseball talent, and while it is impressive what they have done on the field, it is also noteworthy that they have given tremendously off the field as well. The Roberto Clemente award is given every year to a player who demonstrates tremendous civic support with charitable causes.
This year’s award finalists includes 2 from our state.
Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman (Virginia Beach/UVA) is up for this award for his Zimm foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Multiple sclerosis, which has stricken his mother.
A’s closer Sean Dolittle (UVA) is a leading figure in supporting military families and plays a leading role in working with MLB as LGBT allies. In addition, he and his girlfriend have hosted Syrian refugees for Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Chicago.
Winner will be announced this fall.
For years, even decades, the University of Virginia has been known as a hotbed of talent for the sport of football. (Every NFL draft since the early 1980s has seen at least one NFL player get drafted out of UVA.) But make way, football, Major League Baseball is gaining steam.
As of Tuesday, September 15th, when the Orioles recalled P Tyler Wilson (Midlothian) from Triple-A Norfolk, a record 10 Wahoos appear on major league rosters. Here is the rundown of the UVA-to-MLB pipeline:
San Francisco Giants reliever Javier Lopez (Fairfax) played at Virginia from 1996-1998. He currently leads all active major league players with 4 World Series rings. (2007 with the Red Sox and the three SF titles of the 2010s.)
St Louis Cardinals IF Mark Reynolds (Va Beach) played at Virginia from 2001-2004. His 236 career homers are 23rd among active major league players.
Washington Nationals IF Ryan Zimmerman (Va Beach) played at Virginia from 2003-2005. In the 2005 draft, he was selected in the first round by Washington, the very first draft choice in the history of the Washington Nationals, who had just moved to DC from Montreal. Zimmerman is the last player left from the team’s inaugural season in Washington, and has clearly become the face of the franchise. His 10 career Walk-off homers are 2 short of the NL record). On March 30th, 2008, he christened the new Nationals Park with a walk-off HR to beat the Braves. In the summer of 2015, he cracked the 200 HR milestone. In his time as a National, his resume also includes an all-star game, a Gold Glove, and 2 Silver Sluggers.
Oakland Athletics P Sean Dolittle played at Virginia from 2005-2007. In 2014 he was 10th in the AL with 22 saves, and made his first all-star game.
Also currently on Major League rosters: Cleveland Indians P Kyle Crockett (Poquoson), Arizona Diamondbacks IF Phil Gosselin, Tampa Bay Rays OF Brandon Guyer (Herndon), Seattle Mariners C John Hicks (Richmond), San Francisco Giants OF Jarrett Parker (Stafford), and Wilson.
Major League Baseball, Wahoo strong!!!!!!!!
Despite having one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, the Oakland Athletics always find a way to be competitive every year. Not necessarily contenders and playoff-bound, but competitive. Shrewd and creative moves by GM Billy Beane have allowed the Athletics to be legitimate contenders.
While they remain competitive at the big league level, the farm system is doing it’s job of getting big leaguers ready. As we come up on the end of the minor league season, all of the leagues are starting to announce end-of-season awards. The Texas League, the Double-A affiliate, announced it’s postseason all-star team, and 3/4 of the starting infield were prospects from Oakland’s Double-A affiliate, Midland.
One of those selected was SS Chad Pinder (Poquoson/Virginia Tech), who has emerged as Oakland’s No. 7 prospect, via MLBPipeline.com. Pinder not only made the team, but he also took home Texas League Player of the Year honors.
Pinder, a 2013 draft choice of the Oakland Athletics, has skyrocketed through the system. In 2014, he batted .288 with 13 HR and 55 RBIs and was selected an organizational all-star. This year, in the Texas League, he was one of 8 Midland players to go to the mid-season all-star game, and is among the league leaders in batting, HR, and RBIs.
Pinder will be 24 on Opening Day 2016.
Continuing our series in looking at future Virginia stars, lets take a turn head to the West Coast and the Bay Area-specifically, the Oakland Athletics.
In recent years, baseball has become relevant again in Oakland, as the Athletics are perennial playoff contenders. This is happening despite a very small budget, which is further hampered by the struggles to get a new stadium to replace the O.co Coliseum, a source of migraines for the powers that be in Oakland.
The Athletics have not won a World Series title since 1989, but not for lack of trying, as they have made the playoffs 8 times since the turn of the century, and the last three years straight. Fueling this surge has been a farm system that is producing productive players that are helping the Athletics become perennial postseason contestants.
Another name that is sure to be headed to Oakland in the near future is 2B Chad Pinder.
A Richmond-native, Pinder was drafted in the 2013 draft, 71st overall (CBB) by Oakland after wrapping up a run at Virginia Tech where he earned numerous ACC honors for both his athletic as well as his academic abilities. He signed with Oakland in time to get into some short-season NYP league action. Playing for the Vermont Lake Monsters, Pinder batted .200 in 42 games, hitting 3 homers, driving in 8 runs, and posting a .286 OB%. For 2014, he was moved up to High-A Stockton, for his first full season of action, and he flourished. Pinder hit .288 with 13 HR and 55 RBIs, and posted a .336 OB%, as well as stealing 12 bases. Pinder was rewarded for his exploits by being named an Oakland organizational all-star.
Stay tuned to see where he is assigned for 2015. By Opening Day, ’15, Pinder will be 23.
Chad Pinder, a rising star with the Oakland Athletics. By the time he reaches the big leagues, which could be in just a couple of years, will it be at O.co?