By MIKE WILLIAMS
The Pulaski River Turtles announced their 2022 roster Wednesday, and the list of players has a bit of a hometown feel to it.
The 33-man roster includes Wytheville’s Avery Mabe, a 6-4, 210 lb. righthanded pitcher. The 20-year-old Mabe is currently a sophomore at the University of Virginia.
Mabe, the son of Daniel and Deanna Mabe, was born in Marion, but was a three-sport athlete at George Wythe High School, lettering all four years in baseball, golf and basketball.
He earned All-Mountain Empire honors as a junior and was a two-time member of the Region 1C team.
His junior season he struck out 101 batters in 54 innings while holding a 1.00 ERA. At the plate he posted a .429 batting average.
While he didn’t see action in 2021 for UVa, he was listed on the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
Mabe is one of 16 hurlers listed on the 2022 River Turtles roster and includes Seth Tomczak from San Joaquin Delta College in California. Tomczak was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 26th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft.
There are three catchers on the roster, eight infielders and six outfielders.
Among the infielders is another Virginia native, Owen DeShazo from Glen Allen – a Boston College commit. Another college commit on the roster, Charlie Keller, has commited to attend defending NCAA Champions Mississippi State.
Seventeen different NCAA Division 1 schools are represented on the River Turtles’ roster, including NCAA champions Virginia (2015), Vanderbilt (2014 and 19) and Mississippi State (2021).
Four members of the 2021 River Turtles are returning: catchers Ryan Johnson and Irvin Escobar, and pitchers Lucas Reed and Crayton Burnett. Johnson and Reed were 2021 Appalachian League All-Star selections.
Outfielders Rodney Green, Jr. (Cal) and Michael Bolton, Jr. (Purdue) are among the Appalachian League’s top future draft prospects, noted Pulaski General Manager J.W. Martin.
Last year’s River Turtles finished the Appalachian League season with a 32-23 record, falling in the championship game to Greeneville, 9-8 on a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Clark Crist will return as Pulaski’s manager again in 2022.
“I look forward to working with all of these young players,” Crist said. “We have a great group coming to Pulaski from all over the country; it’s a great collection of talent. We’re ready to get to work.”
The River Turtles open the 2022 season June 2 at home against Burlington.
“We are very excited about our potential this season,” stated Martin. “All the credit goes to Clark Crist. The Appalachian League gave clubs more involvement in the player selection process this offseason, and his hard work is reflected in the outstanding roster we’re constructed.”