More signings: Duffy, Wierzbicki ticketed for NYPL

Two more of Houston’s 2011 draftees will reportedly sign soon and debut with the ValleyCats this summer: 20th-round pick Matt Duffy and 24th-round pick Jesse Wierzbicki.

Duffy signed with the Astros last night, according to the Tennessee University athletics department, which tweeted this morning that he will likely play for the ValleyCats. If Duffy could follow in the footsteps of the last two 20th-round picks, he and the Astros would probably be very happy. In 2009, J.D. Martinez led the New York-Penn League with a .326 batting average and ranked second in slugging; he has continued to kill the ball at every level of the minors. Last year, Dan Adamson led the ‘Cats with nine homers and a .444 slugging percentage while stealing 11 bases.

A 6’3” third baseman, Duffy is no stranger to northeastern baseball. The native of Milton, Mass., spent two years at the University of Vermont, earning America East Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, before transferring to Tennessee when the Catamounts’ baseball program folded. Duffy hit over .300 in both seasons with the Vols, showing improved power numbers in 2011 despite the nationwide switch to less explosive bats.

Duffy seems a good bet to start at third base on Opening Day, one week from this evening.

Wierzbicki also indicated last night that he would sign and has been told that he will spend the summer in Troy. But his case is trickier – his North Carolina Tar Heels are still playing in the NCAA Tournament. Announced as a first baseman, Wierzbicki will reportedly spend some time in left field and at DH as the Astros try to find the best position for him; he may not be able to play first every day for Tri-City if 15th-round pick Zach Johnson signs and is assigned to the ‘Cats.

Of course, Wierzbicki cannot sign until his college season is over. That would be soon if the Tar Heels lose to Stanford this weekend, but if UNC wins the best-of-three series, it would advance to the College World Series. The eight-team, double-elimination championship tournament begins on June 18, one day after Opening Day for the ValleyCats, so Wierzbicki would have to miss the first week or two of the season.

You can watch the future ValleyCat play against Stanford today and tomorrow at 3 p.m. on ESPN3, and on Sunday afternoon if necessary.

Eighth-round pick Brandon Culbreath has signed; no official word has come out on where he has headed, but college pitchers picked in that range have almost always joined Tri-City in past years.

Sixth-round pick Brandon Meredith is still on track to be on the ValleyCats’ Opening Day roster.

Future ValleyCat John Hinson reportedly signed for much more than 13th-round money.

Kevin Whitaker

1 Comment

With the return of Kevin Whitaker to the ValleyCat fold ,baseball fans in this area will once again enjoy background information and insight on a superior level.
We enjoy guessing which players will make it to the majors, but for Whitaker the sky is the limit in baseball if he so chooses.
Welcome back Kevin.

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