Cardinals’ Valdes named VBL Pitcher of the Year

STRASBURG – Front Royal had the best pitching staff in the Valley Baseball League this summer, and now the Cardinals can claim the league’s top pitcher as well.

Cardinals left-hander Erne Valdes was announced Monday as the VBL’s Pitcher of the Year, as voted on by media and team representatives. Valdes, the second Front Royal pitcher to earn the award in the last three seasons, joined Waynesboro slugger Zach Sterry (MVP) in winning the VBL’s highest individual awards.

“I guess with that award it’s gotta be someone really consistent and Erne, that’s what he was,” Cardinals manager Victor Gomez said as his team prepared for Monday’s Game 1 matchup with Strasburg in the North Division championship series. “He gave us a great outing just about every single time, and even when he didn’t have his stuff he sure busted his butt out there to try and give us a chance to win a ballgame.

“He’s a lefty that sneaks it up on ya and he can get you a true 12-to-6 curveball and mixes in his changeup. He’s a good little pitcher, man, and he had a great summer for us here.”

Valdes, a rising sophomore from St. Thomas University of Miami, went 2-1 with a 1.03 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 34.2 innings spanning six starts for Front Royal this summer. He tied for the league lead in ERA and finished third in the VBL in strikeouts despite pitching his final game for the Cardinals on July 6, nearly three weeks before the end of the regular season.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound lefty from Miami, who had Tommy John surgery about three years ago, didn’t pitch in the VBL after the all-star game on July 10.

“It was just a matter of him getting his work in this summer, and obviously he gave us more than what we expected to get out of him,” Gomez said of Valdes, who pitched 37.1 innings for St. Thomas last season. “The second that you kind of get to a certain limit and he’s not feeling 100 percent anymore – whether it’s body fatigue or just the mind – he was there and I was just glad to get what I got whenever he was out there because it was fun to watch.”

Valdes allowed only four earned runs this season and held opposing batters to a .140 average, the second-best mark in the VBL.

Front Royal comfortably led the league in team ERA (3.23) and batting average against (.217) this summer. Valdes was one of five Cardinals selected to the All-Valley League team, joined by fellow first-team selection Zac Wiley (.303, six home runs, 22 RBIs), and second team pitchers Stephen Xirinachs (5-2, 2.73 ERA, 33 strikeouts in eight starts), Jacob Ramos (2-1, 1.00, 28 strikeouts in 27 innings of relief) and Brandon Valentin (0.76 ERA, 18 strikeouts, two saves in 23.2 relief innings).

Strasburg, the North Division regular season champs, also landed five players on the All-Valley League team, second only to Waynesboro’s six. Express pitchers Benjamin Dum (4-0, 1.42 ERA, 32 strikeouts) and Peyton Plumlee (5-0, 2.45 ERA, 30 strikeouts) and designated hitter Brandon Quaranta (.375, six home runs, 24 RBIs in 20 games) were first-team selections, while first baseman Dylan Ingram (.319, seven home runs, 30 RBIs) and third baseman Carter Pharis (.342, five home runs, 30 RBIs) were second-team honorees.

Woodstock, which finished with the worst record in the 11-team league, had three players named All-Valley League. Third baseman Nick Ward – who led the VBL with a .387 batting average to go along with five homers and 24 RBIs – and utility man Danton Hyman (.360, 13 RBIs; 0-2, 4.50 ERA, 11 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched) were first-team selections, while outfielder Jacob Tisevich (.282, five home runs, 27 RBIs) – who joined Strasburg for the playoffs – earned a spot on the second team for the River Bandits.

New Market had two players named All-Valley League, as second baseman Chase DeMars (.336, five home runs, 27 RBIs) landed on the first team and starting pitcher Terrell McCall (3-0, 1.60 ERA, 39 strikeouts) on the second.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

2016 All-Valley Baseball League Team

Most Valuable Player: Zach Sterry, Waynesboro
Pitcher of the Year: Erne Valdes, Front Royal

First Team
C: T.J. Condon, Waynesboro, Faulkner (.307, 3 HR, 15 RBI)
1B: Zach Sterry, Waynesboro, Oakland (.350, 13 HR, 41 RBI)
2B: Chase DeMars, New Market, South Carolina (.336, 5 HR, 27 RBI)
SS: Tripp Shelton, Harrisonburg, UNC-Greensboro (.329, 5 HR, 24 RBI)
3B: Nick Ward, Woodstock, West Chester (.387, 5 HR, 24 RBI)
OF: Tanner Poole, Waynesboro, Mississippi State (.333, 6 HR, 27 RBI)
OF: Jonathan Pryor, Harrisonburg, Wake Forest (.358, 1 HR, 26 RBI)
OF: Zac Wiley, Front Royal, Bellarmine (.303, 6 HR, 22 RBI)
DH: Brandon Quaranta, Strasburg, Philadelphia (.375, 6 HR, 24 RBI)
UTIL: Danton Hyman, Woodstock, Newberry (.360, 0 HR, 13 RBI; 0-2, 4.50 ERA, 11 K)
SP: Corey Childress, Harrisonburg, Troy (6-2, 2.87 ERA, 52 K)
SP: Benjamin Dum, Strasburg, VCU (4-0, 1.42 ERA, 32 K)
SP: Peyton Plumlee, Strasburg, Mississippi State (5-0, 2.45 ERA, 30 K)
SP: Erne Valdes, Front Royal, St. Thomas (2-1, 1.03 ERA, 45 K)
RP: Nicholas Purpera, Covington, Cumberlands (1-0, 0.45 ERA, 19 K, 9 SV)
RP: Will Reed, Purcellville, Harford CC (4-1, 0.81 ERA, 35 K, 7 SV)

Second Team
C: Fabian Pena, Covington, Manhattan (.282, 4 HR, 20 RBI)
1B: Dylan Ingram, Strasburg, Auburn (.319, 7 HR, 30 RBI)
2B: Jose Carrera, Covington, Manhattan (.256, 3 HR, 16 RBI)
SS: Raul Cabrera, Purcellville, Miami Dade CC (.326, 2 HR, 17 RBI)
3B: Carter Pharis, Strasburg, Alabama-Birmingham (.342, 5 HR, 30 RBI)
OF: Ray Hernandez, Purcellville, Alabama State (.313, 4 HR, 21 RBI)
OF: Jacob Tisevich, Woodstock, Southern Arkansas (.282, 5 HR, 27 RBI)
OF: Brandon Vicens, Covington, Miami Dade-Kendall (.289, 4 HR, 22 RBI)
DH: Greg Popatak II, Harrisonburg, George Mason (.264, 9 HR, 27 RBI)
UTIL: Trevor Jensen, Winchester, St. Petersburg (.275, 2 HR, 20 RBI)
SP: Vince Braman, Waynesboro, St. Mary’s (5-0, 3.37 ERA, 22 K)
SP: Terrell McCall, New Market, Alabama State (3-0, 1.60 ERA, 39 K)
SP: Campbell Scholl, Waynesboro, Central Florida (2-0, 1.03 ERA, 13 K)
SP: Stephen Xirinachs, Front Royal, UMASS-Lowell (5-2, 2.73 ERA, 33 K)
RP: Zach Neff, Waynesboro, Austin Peay (4-1, 1.08 ERA, 18 K, 1 SV)
RP: Jacob Ramos, Front Royal, Shorter (2-1, 1.00 ERA, 28 K, 0 SV)
RP: Brandon Valentin, Front Royal, St. Thomas (0-1, 0.76 ERA, 18 K, 2 SV)