Daily Progress – Meet the 2017 Charlottesville Tom Sox

Meet the 2017 Charlottesville Tom Sox – Daily Progress

PLAYERS WITH LOCAL TIES

» Joe Burris, LHP (CNU/Albemarle High School, senior)

» Sean Byrnes, RHP (Elon/Monticello High School, senior)

» Connor Gillispie, RHP (VCU/Miller School, sophomore)

» Matt Shobe (Bucknell/Covenant, sophomore)

» GM comments: We wanted local guys who had gone off to college and proven that they could compete at a high level. In Burris and Byrnes, we have two rising senior veterans that just know how to get outs. In Gillespie and Shobe, they bring some unique attributes. Before signing them, we waited until deep into their spring seasons to see how they would adjust. They had very good stat lines at their schools in their first years. Shobe will be joining us in July.

Knight
Virginia catcher Caleb Knight (5) tags out VCU outfielder Haiden Lamb (14) during a game this season. Knight and Lamb will be teammates with the Charlottesville Tom Sox this summer.

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA PLAYERS

» Caleb Knight, C (senior)

» Chesdin Harrington, RHP (junior)

» Evan Sperling, RHP (junior)

» GM comments: We always take what UVa coaches offer us. This group of three has the chance to be a real game-changing haul. You have a full time All-ACC-level catcher going into his senior year. That’s invaluable experience. In Evan Sperling, because he had Tommy John surgery out of HS, he’s still regaining some of his form, but a 95 mph arm in the VBL, a kid that could one day pitch in the MLB, that’s special. Chesdin Harrington, well he’s just been a favorite since the day we signed him. He’s a pro, and if you look at his past summer and UVa stat lines, he just knows how to get outs.

RETURNING PLAYERS

» Drew Scott, RHP (Yale, senior)

» Matt Olson, RHP (Richmond, junior)

» Joe Burris, LHP (CNU, senior)

» GM comments: These three guys were asked to come back. There were others we have talked to but for various reasons, it just didn’t work out. In these three, we get real experience; we get professionalism; we get guys who know how we operate and will represent us well. These guys aren’t just back though because we like them; they are also really good.

+2 

Bazin
Davidson’s Max Bazin reacts as he crosses home plate to score a run against North Carolina during the fifth inning of an NCAA Tournament regional game in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Bazin will play for the Charlottesville Tom Sox this summer. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Gerry Broome

POSITION PLAYERS

Logan Harvey, C

» Hometown: Richmond

» College, class: Wake Forest, junior

» College stats: 201 ABs; .264 avg.; 15 XBH; 26 RBI

» From the GM: We targeted Harvey from early on. He comes from our trusted partner in Wake Forest. Defensive stud. Played all year long for the Deacs, so he has incredible experience. We know a lot about him personally, and he’s everything we want representing us. He’s made it to Super Regionals with his WFU team, so we may not see him until late June.

Eric Jones, C/3B

» Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

» College, class: Davidson, junior

» College stats: 233 ABs; .318 avg.; 9 HRs; 36 RBI

» From the GM: Jones had one of the great 2017 seasons amongst our signees. He’s a gamer; he’s versatile; he’s a smart, disciplined, role model type for our young fans. He did a Fall semester internship in London…we love our guys who are great players and are thinking about life beyond baseball. Davidson has made their first-ever postseason and just knocked off UNC to advance to Super Regionals, so we may not see him for a couple of weeks.

Michael Derenzi, OF

» Hometown: Mendham, New Jersey

» College, class: Georgetown, senior

» College stats: 221 ABs; .330 avg.; 12 SBs; 44 RBI

» From the GM: Derenzi is an elite-level athlete who has had back-to-back Big East type seasons. Rival coaches tell me he’s the type of player you “game plan” around. Fans will love him.

Haiden Lamb, OF

» Hometown: Richmond

» College, class: VCU, senior

» College stats: 163 ABs; .258 avg.; 7 SBs

» From the GM: Haiden is another tremendous athlete who was an all-star in our league last summer playing for Strasburg. He ran a 6.25 60-yard dash. That is world-class speed. He’s a world-class young man, too.

Kyle Battle, OF

» Hometown: Richmond

» College, class: Old Dominion, sophomore

» College stats: 167 ABs; .341 avg.; 36 RBI; 6 SBs

» From the GM: Sometimes you feel like you are taking a chance when signing a player, especially a freshman. You have to take trust college coaches word on a player who has little to no history. We took ODU coaches’ word about Battle, whom they call one of the most elite players that they’ve ever coached. He’s young, and perhaps there will be a wood bat adjustment, but we feel richly rewarded in getting Battle sight unseen this summer.

Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B/DH

» Hometown: Richmond

» College, class: Old Dominion, sophomore

» College stats: 224 ABs; .321 avg.; 38 RBI; 5 HR

» From the GM: Everything I said about Battle is also true for Pasquantino. You will see this guy playing in the Major Leagues one day…he’s that good with the bat in his hand and he’s that good defensively. A real charismatic leader of his ODU team, and we expect he will be for the Tom Sox, too.

Michael Wielansky, SS/2B

» Hometown: St. Louis

» College, class: Wooster, junior

» College stats: .425 Avg.; 20 SBs; 15 HRs; 54 RBI; 69 runs

» From the GM: This kid can just flat out play. We targeted him because we thought he was one of the top five players in the country in D3 baseball, and we wanted to show our fan base that the best players in D3 can play with anyone in the country. We think that’s really important as we try to inspire young players to dream big dreams. We think Michael is an absolute steal for our club. Was the ABCA’s Mideast Region Position Player of the Year and a first team All-American.

Ari Sechopoulos 1B/DH

» Hometown: Windsor, Ontario, Canada

» College, class: College of Charleston, sophomore

» College stats: 139 ABs; .259 avg.; 5 HRs

» From the GM: Another freshman in whom we took a chance. Ari comes from Canada, but C of C coaches said once he makes the college adjustment, he’s going to be an elite hitter. By the end of the spring season, that is what he was. He also has hit wood bats most of his life, so we thought his freshman adjustment would be limited.

TWO-WAY PLAYERS

Rick Spiers, OF/RHP

» Hometown: Richmond

» College, class: Randolph-Macon, senior

» College stats: 163 ABs; .344 avg.; 9 HRs; 19 SBs; 48 RBI

» From the GM: Another player we sought out because of his success over multiple seasons. Several ODAC coaches have told me that he’s the “best all-around player in the conference and one of the best in the country.” Was an All-Conference/All-Region player in 2017.

Carson Spiers, 3B/RHP

» Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina

» College, class: Clemson, sophomore

» College stats: NA

» From the GM: Carson Spiers is another elite-level athlete. He was a tremendous HS quarterback and Clemson likes him so much, they don’t know if he will end up being more of a position player or pitcher. He will do both for us. He’s in the NCAA postseason, so we will see him in time.

Brandon Johnson, C/RHP

» Hometown: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

» College, class: Richmond, senior

» College stats: NA

Max Bazin, SS/OF/RHP

» Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

» College: Davidson, junior

» College stats: 185 ABs; .205 avg.; 20 RBI; 4 SB

» From the GM: This is just elite-level/unique ball player. He’s got a chance to be the best defensive player on the field at about eight positions. He also has an elite offensive skill set. While I know he didn’t have the offensive season he wanted, I have tremendous confidence that Max will help us both offensively and defensively once Davidson’s historic season ends.

PITCHERS

Austin Higginbotham, LHP

» Hometown: Gainesville, Georgia

» College, class: Wofford, senior

» College stats: 6-5 record; 4.88 ERA; 94.0 IP; 66 Ks

» From the GM: We love Higgie. He simply has tremendous feel for how to get outs. He’s probably thrown more innings than any other pitcher in the country that is playing summer ball. He’s that classic LHP that some would call crafty; I call that pitching. Will only be with us for about half the summer so that his arm can rest. Enjoy him while he’s here.

Clayton Kwiatkowski, LHP

» Hometown: Tampa, Florida

» College, class: Florida State, sophomore

» College stats: 1-0 record; 2.45 ERA; 22.0 IP; 22 Ks

» From the GM: We’ve had numerous chances to see this LHP on TV this spring. He’s got a 90-plus mph arm and tremendous breaking stuff. There will be few pitchers in the Valley that have his combination of physical skills and “pitchability”. He’s still playing, however, so we look forward to seeing him down the road.

Cole Maye, LHP

» Hometown: Huntersville, North Carolina

» College, class: Florida, sophomore

» College stats: NA

» From the GM: Cole graduated from HS a semester early to join one of the elite college programs in the country. Who does that? He’s a 6-7 LHP that will likely, one day, be pitching in MLB. He’s got tremendous physical skills and size, and we had a personal connection to him that allowed us to bring him to the Tom Sox.

Drew Loepprich, RHP

» Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

» College, class: Wake Forest, senior

» College stats: 3-3 record; 5.85 ERA; 36 Ks; 44.2 IP

» From the GM: I was giddy when Wake Forest offered us Drew. He had requested to be here, given Kevin Conway and Bruce Steel’s experience here the last two summers. He has been a weekend ACC starter throughout his three years at Wake. In fact, he beat UVa in the ACC Tournament in 2016. He’s doing a great internship while in town. Love the idea that mature young men can be great players and forward looking and we get to know them for a summer and beyond.

Layne Looney, RHP

» Hometown: Dallas, Texas

» College, class: Richmond, junior

» College stats: 3-6 record; 3.21 ERA; 61.2 IP; 65 Ks

» From the GM: Layne may be the fan favorite by the time this summer is over. He’s 5-6 or 5-7 and will reach 93-94 mph from the mound. I went to Richmond to watch him twice this spring because those “measurables” are simply hard to believe without seeing. It’s true. Layne has a great internship in Charlottesville this summer.

Justin Wilson, RHP

» Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tennessee

» College, class: Vanderbilt, junior

» College stats: NA/redshirting after Injury

» From the GM: Wow, what can I say. In Justin’s last bullpen session, he hit 95. He’s about 5-10/5-11. What a unique skill set. He went off to college as a catcher who Vanderbilt wanted to learn to pitch. We are so happy to get him and help him with that transition. He should be in town within 1-2 weeks.