The Daily Progress

Seven Former Tom Sox Players Selected in 2021 MLB Draft

Seven former Charlottesville Tom Sox players were selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, the most selections in 20 rounds in team history.
The Daily Progress

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Seven former Charlottesville Tom Sox players were selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, the most selections in 20 rounds in team history.

 

Tom Sox Draft Selections

  • 5th round, 140th overall, Colorado Rockies – Evan Justice (2018, NC State)

  • 6th round, 177th overall, Milwaukee Brewers – Carlos Rodriguez (2021, Florida Southwestern State)

  • 8th round, 242nd overall, Toronto Blue Jays – Hunter Gregory (2018, Old Dominion)

  • 9th round, 281st overall, Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Ayala (2021, Florida Southwestern State)

  • 14th round, 431st overall, Tampa Bay Rays – Antonio Menendez (2018, Wake Forest)

  • 15th round, 456th overall, Cleveland Indians – Alaska Abney (2019, Coastal Carolina)

  • 19th round, 571st overall, St. Louis Cardinals – Thomas Francisco (2019, East Carolina)

 

Charlottesville’s seven selections are the second-most in any draft in team history. With the MLB Draft moved to July, 2021 marks the first year that former players from this year’s team were selected (Rodriguez & Ayala). Charlottesville’s four selections through the first two days were the most in the Valley League.

 

RHP Evan Justice (2018)

Evan Justice tossed 25.1 innings for Charlottesville during the 2018 season in which they advanced to the VBL Championship. Justice served 40 strikeouts in his 10 appearances with a 4.62 ERA.

Upon returning to NC State, Justice became nationally known as one of the nation’s best closers in 2021. His 13 saves led the nation, which he backed up with a 3.77 ERA & 74 strikeouts.

 

RHP Carlos Rodriguez (2021)

Carlos Rodriguez made one start for the Tom Sox, tossing a pair of scoreless innings on June 7 against the Staunton Braves.

In his one season with the Florida Southwestern Bucs, Rodriguez posted a 2.11 ERA & 62 strikeouts in 11 appearances (ten starts).

 

RHP Hunter Gregory (2018)

Hunter Gregory was one of the top relievers in the Valley League in 2018, with a 1.37 ERA in 39.1 innings for Charlottesville. Gregory was scoreless in nine of his 13 appearances (two starts), and allowed only eight walks while striking out 45. All Things Valley League named him as the sixth-best reliever in the 2018 season.

In his four seasons with the Monarchs, Gregory struck out 254 batters with an ERA of 4.13. He served a crucial role in the 2021 season for the 1-seed Monarchs, with a 2.95 ERA (3rd in C-USA) and 1.06 WHIP (6th).

 

LHP Alex Ayala (2021)

Alex Ayala made two appearances for the Tom Sox in 2021, a pair of road starts at Woodstock (6/6) and Covington (6/19). He struck out nine batters over his seven innings with a 5.14 ERA.

In the 2021 season at Florida Southwestern, Ayala worked to a 3.53 ERA in 63.2 innings, striking out 11.87 batters per 9 IP.

 

RHP Antonio Menendez (2018)

Antonio Menendez was lights-out for much of his time in Charlottesville, with a 2.43 ERA & four saves in 18 appearances. Menendez did not allow a run in 14 of his 18 appearances and struck out 3+ batters in eight of them. His 2.43 ERA ranks 10th in team history and his 13.5 K/9 IP ranks 3rd, while his 17 games finished are the most all-time.

Before having Tommy John Surgery in 2021, Menendez appeared in 34 games for the Deacs in 2019 with a 3.09 ERA & 73 strikeouts. His 11.87 K/9 IP in 2019 ranks 6th in Wake Forest history.

 

RHP Alaska Abney (2019)

Alaska Abney is yet another shutdown reliever drafted, making 14 appearances in 2019. He posted a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings, striking out 26 batters. He was scoreless in all but three of his appearances and made eight saves, a single-season team record.

Abney struck out 131 batters in 107.1 career innings for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, racking up eight saves in 59 appearances.

 

1B Thomas Francisco (2019)

Thomas Francisco had one of the best seasons at the plate in Tom Sox history, batting .409 in 34 games with 34 runs scored, 36 RBI, and 10 doubles. His 23-game hit streak to start the 2019 season is the longest in team history, and he collected a hit in 32 of his 34 games during Charlottesville’s run to the VBL Championship. Francisco led the league in batting average, ranked fifth in RBI, and sixth in hits (61). He was named first team All-VBL at DH.

In three seasons with the Pirates, Francisco bat .348 with 82 runs, 81 RBI, and 18 home runs. He has walked 49 times and struck out 47. During the 2021 season, Francisco ranked among the best hitters in the conference – top-10 in batting average (.354), hits (87), home runs (13), runs (64), RBI (48), and total bases (137).

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