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Future Looks Bright, But VT's 2020 Vision Is Fading...

It sure is a good thing that Virginia Tech’s Class of 2022 *seems* to be heading in the right direction.

Because the Class of 2020 continues to be doing the exact opposite.

Alec Bryant and Robert Wooten (right), the two highest-rated signees from the Hokies’ 2020 class, both announced their decisions to transfer from Virginia Tech on Monday. While neither Bryant nor Wooten were expected to see the field a lot this season, they had the potential to slot in the two-deep the following year and served as necessary depth for Tech in 2021.

Alas, that is no longer the case.

We knew after National Signing Day that Tech’s Class of 2020 didn’t have a lot of promise, but things have gotten significantly worse for that group of players.

Bryant, the class’ top-rated prospect, is now leaving the program. Wooten, No. 2 in the class, is in the same boat.

Tyree Saunders, an athletic receiver from Jacksonville, Fl. that many expected to fight for snaps immediately, is already enrolled at East Carolina. The class’ No. 4 prospect, Justin Beadles, is transferring to Houston.

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Mike Elias Sticking To His Guns In Drafting Colton Cowser

You’ve got to give Mike Elias credit for sticking to his guns.

The Orioles’ general manager has developed a strong modus operandi through his first three drafts as Head Oriole — use your first-round draft pick on an uber-productive college player, particularly productive hitters.

Elias followed his rubric again Sunday night, drafting Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser.

Don’t tell Elias that he reached for Cowser, because you’d be wasting your time. Cowser more than earned his slot with the Orioles as a college center fielder, sporting an OPS higher than 1.000 in both of his two full seasons as a collegiate player.

Cowser’s always been good with the bat, batting .361 in 2019 and .374 in 2021. He slugged over .600 both of those seasons and in 2021, Cowser hit 16 home runs. He hit just seven in 2019.

The scouts agree with the numbers.

“One of the best bats in the college class, Cowser has a pure left-handed stroke and repeatedly finds the barrel,” according to his MLB Pipeline profile. “His quick hands allow him to pepper line drives all over the field as he executes a very controlled approach.”

The Southland Conference Player of the Year should be able to stick in center field too, increasing his value.

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Hokies Reloading The Wagon On The Offensive Line

Virginia Tech added another commitment to their Class of 2022 on Monday, earning a pledge from South Carolina offensive lineman Xavier Chaplin.

Chaplin’s a big guy — the 370-pounder stands at 6-foot-6 and likely will need a year or two before he can seriously compete for a starting spot. But he does not lack the size necessary to play, that much is for certain.

Chaplin is now the fourth commitment along the offensive line for the Hokies, a sure sign that Vance Vice is trying to backfill some of his misses over the years. That number could go to five if Braelin Moore plays offensive line instead of defensive line.

There was a point in time where Tech looked locked and loaded on the offensive front for the foreseeable future. Tech added four offensive linemen in 2018 — Christian Darrisaw, Luke Tenuta, Walker Culver and John Harris — but only one remains in the program. Vice brought in four-stars Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson for the 2019 cycle, but both have since transferred.

William Pritchard, another offensive lineman from that class, medically retired from football last season. Only Jesse Hanson remains from the Class of 2019.

So to recap, Tech lost five offensive lineman over two seasons to medical retirements and transfers. That’s enough to decimate a program’s depth.

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Orioles Better Not Be Thinking About Trading Trey Mancini

Don’t you do it, Mike Elias. Don’t. You. Do. It.

If Elias wants to completely alienate the fanbase — slow progress from the farm system is doing that already — then he should go ahead and trade Trey Mancini.

But if he does it, good luck keeping this O’s fan interested.

Mancini’s story has been well-covered at this point — the man lost an entire year of his life after being diagnosed with colon cancer, was forced to endure it during the COVID-19 pandemic and through it all, he’s back in Baltimore hitting homers and driving in runs.

Mancini is reliable as the day is long. Pencil him in the lineup and reap the benefits.

Obviously, Mancini’s prowess as a hitter — his OPS of .789 is above the league average and he’s hit 14 homers this season — isn’t translating to wins. Mancini and Cedric Mullins are the only two reliable O’s in the lineup and as good as they’ve been — both Mancini and Mullins might represent Baltimore in the Midsummer Classic — they can’t win games by themselves.

As the Orioles continue to call the AL East cellar home, the organization is clearly still in “tank mode.” But how far is the organization willing to go?

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Dean Kremer Facing A Crossroad In His Career With Orioles

Two years from now, Dean Kremer will know a lot about real estate.

One way or the other.

The Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect found himself back on a flight to Norfolk for the second time this season Friday, fresh off the worst start of his major league career. Thursday night, Kremer retired just one batter, walking five and allowing two hits en route to six earned runs. Kremer’s bags were probably packed before he went to bed that night.

Putting it mildly, Kremer has been bad this season. After four starts in 2020, Kremer holds a 7.25 ERA through 49.2 innings in 2021. Conventional wisdom was that Kremer was turning a corner after consecutive solid outings when he returned to Baltimore on June 14. Instead, it looks like Kremer is in dire need of some pitching help.

He’ll get the help he needs at Triple-A Norfolk, but whether he heeds it or not is up to him. If he doesn’t, he’ll be out of the league selling real estate before he turns 30. If he does, he’ll remember that like real estate, pitching is about location, location, location.

Why is it all about location for Kremer? His stuff is actually quite good. Kremer’s velocity is a bit below league average in 2021, but his movement is well above average. His fastball, changeup and cutter/slider are above league average in both vertical and horizontal movement, while his curveball is well above the league average in vertical movement.

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Max Scherzer Gives Joe Girardi The Treatment He Deserves

Tuesday night was a fun sports night.

Besides the Orioles blowing another decent pitching performance from Jorge Lopez, there was a lot going on that caught my attention, and all of these topics relate in some way to Washington D.C. sports teams: 

Girardi Makes A Mockery of Baseball, Gets Mocked by Scherzer

At first, all I saw was Nationals star Max Scherzer mocking the hell out of Phillies manager Joe Girardi, which would amuse me in any situation as it is.

But once I found it was after Girardi had Scherzer checked three times for banned sticky substances on the pitching mound, it was even better.

Scherzer gave Girardi the treatment he deserved. If somebody accused me of cheating the game on three separate occasions, then I’d give them the death stare walking back to the mound as well. And for Girardi to take offense to it shows what kind of coward he is. If you’re going to wrongfully accuse someone three separate times of cheating, own it and sit down when you’re wrong.

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Virginia Tech Football Gets 6 Commitments In Last 7 Days

Anytime a school gets a handful of commitments in a single week, you should set aside some time to figure out who the newbies are.

Virginia Tech has added six separate commitments in the last seven days — running back Bryce Duke, offensive linemen Johnny Garrett and Jakson LaHue, tight end Matt Hoffman, defensive back Malcolm Jones and athlete Xavier Simmons.

Let’s take a moment to parse through each of these six commitments…

Running back Bryce Duke (5-foot-11, 196 pounds) — Leesburg, Va.

Duke - who played for Tuscarora here in Loudoun County - committed to Tech on Tuesday, giving the Hokies their first tailback in this cycle. He’s got average size and rates as a middle-of-the-road three-star prospect. 247Sports puts him 23rd in Virginia’s 2022 class.

Virginia Tech didn’t face stiff competition for Duke. Rutgers and Duke are his only other Power 5 offers, though the northern Virginia native also holds offers from App State, Cincinnati and Old Dominion.

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Orioles Fans Need To Be Patient For Only A Little Longer

Patience is a virtue...for a reason.

Not many people have it, and for those that do, they often can’t hold onto it for very long. Most, in fact, can only put up with something for so long before they’re ready for things to get better. 

For Baltimore Orioles fans, however, it's looking like you need to be patient for only a little while longer. The Orioles' cavalry is en route.

Baltimore fans have plenty of reasons to eschew their patience — the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 and since 2018, when the club won an abysmal 47 games, the O’s have been one of the worst clubs in baseball. The poor hitting, revolving door in the starting rotation and consistent losing has grown tiresome.

The constant losing has led some to question the rebuild stewarded by Mike Elias. Grumblings about the future of Brandon Hyde’s managerial tenure in Baltimore are growing louder. But rather than talk about whether or not Hyde should keep his job — frankly, it doesn’t matter all that much as everyone knows Hyde won’t be the manager during this club’s potential competitive window — let me direct your attention to the Orioles’ minor league system, specifically Double-A Bowie.

Bowie is a gold mine of Orioles’ talent at the moment. Six of the O’s top 30 prospects are assigned to Bowie. The most notable among them being Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez.

It’s hard to not imagine them leading a stretch of winning baseball. Rutschman is justifying the hype this season, slashing .293/.430/.531 with 10 homers in just 40 games. Despite missing almost an entire season of minor league ball, Rutschman looks to be on track in his development.

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Orioles Outfield Could Be The Strength Of This Year's Team

We knew coming into the season that the deepest part of the Baltimore Orioles’ upper levels of the organization was the outfield. The hope was that this season, fans would see exactly what the Orioles outfield could look like with most of their top options healthy and ready to go.

But injuries have prevented that thus far.

In April, DJ Stewart, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander all spent time on the injured list. Santander didn’t come back until May 21, only for Hays to hit the injured list again on the May 26.

Hays is slated to return today, rejoining the Orioles for a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. With their full slate of outfielders finally ready to go, I’m praying that we’ll finally get to see what Baltimore’s outfield could look like on a regular basis.

For all intents and purposes, the Orioles have six players fighting for five spots right now. Stewart, Hays and Santander are competing in the outfield with Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle, but Mountcastle is also competing with Trey Mancini at first base and designated hitter.

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Kyshoen Jarrett Finally Comes Home To Virginia Tech

Some sports reporters will tell you they are entirely objective. They will further claim they never have and never will let their personal feelings about a player, coach, executive or team get in the way of how they cover their beat.

They’re wrong.

The truth is writers and reporters are human too. We have emotions. We make mistakes. Sometimes, we let our personal opinions dictate an angle that we take on a story. Occasionally, that’s in a negative light.

But ever so often, it’s just the opposite.

My junior year at Virginia Tech was a lot of fun, as I served as the opinions editor, sports editor and managing editor of the Collegiate Times at different points in the school year. I also got to cover Virginia Tech football that season, attending the games as a writer and reporter.

As the 2014 season came to a close, I started putting together a piece on Virginia Tech’s two senior safeties: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett. The two were great young men and I enjoyed interviewing both.

Jarrett’s interview sticks with me. He had an admirable innocence; Jarrett’s soul was honest and pure. Nothing had been given to him, yet Jarrett was still thankful that he got the opportunity in the first place. Even though football was offering him a chance to play professionally, Jarrett had already thought about how he could contribute off the field.

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Cedric Mullins Was On Fire In Cleveland Series...

As the Baltimore Orioles try to recover from one of the worst months in franchise history, one player is doing his best to give the fans hope and optimism that winning baseball will return in the not-so-distant future.

Cedric Mullins cooled off after a scoring April, but that sweet swing was on full display this weekend against the Indians. Mullins finished the series 9-12 against the Indians, including reaching base safely in 11 consecutive plate appearances. Mullins launched three home runs in the series and elevated his OPS to .923, among the league’s best.

Mullins’ excellence extended outside the batter’s box, as the rangy center fielder made yet another diving grab on Saturday.

“What he’s doing right now, I don’t have words for it,” manager Brandon Hyde said on Sunday. “He’s doing a little bit of absolutely everything right now.”

Mullins is indeed doing it all. He leads the Orioles in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He also leads the team in doubles, walks and stolen bases. Mullins has 73 hits this season, the most in Major League Baseball.

Again, Mullins’ skills go beyond the plate. His five outs above average puts him in the 97th percentile in the majors and Baseball Reference puts him in the top five in total zone runs and range factor among center fielders.

What we are witnessing — hopefully — is the blossoming of a young superstar. Mullins has the infectious smile, the effort and will power, as well as the talent. He’s everything you’d want in a center fielder of the future.

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