Europeans in University 2019: Players V-Z

Our glance at Europeans playing baseball at North American high schools and universities concludes with 14 players representing 10 different countries. These include the only athlete with Russian connexions, the top Lithuanian prospect, and three players that were selected for the MLB Elite Tournament in England. Four players ended their collegiate careers this spring, however, one of them has the consolation of playing in Tokyo next summer. Our post-season awards will follow soon.

Vytas Valinčius, 1B-RHP (HS SO, St. Laurence H.S. [35-6], Ill.) [Bio]
The youngest player on this list, Valinčius might very well be its biggest prospect, with plaudits like “one of the top sophomores in the Midwest” [link], and Prep Baseball Report’s U.S. No. 24 for the Class of 2021 [link]. Already committed to South Carolina, Valinčius was born in the U.S., but speaks fluent Lithuanian.

 

Weighing in at 6-3, 240, he is praised for an advanced bat that boasts a 107 mph exit velocity and moves extremely well at first. On the mound, Valinčius throws 84-87 with a curveball and changeup [link]. His St. Laurence team was ranked No. 1 in Illinois in February 2019 and within the Top 50 nationwide [link].

Nikola Vasič, 2B (SR, Southern Illinois University 26-29], Ill.) [Bio]
Vasič wrapped up a solid four-year career by leading off all of the Salukis’ 55 games as its second baseman. A member of the national team of Serbia, Vasič has advanced plate discipline, drawing 37 walks. He also stole 26 stolen bases and scored 49 runs while slashing .236/.368/.379.

Dylan Verdonk, RHP (RS JR, Seton Hall University [25-28], N.J.) [Bio]
Verdonk missed the year due to injury and took a redshirt season, which allows the Dutch right-hander to have another season of eligibility. The 6-9, 220-pound right-hander has transferred to Florida Gulf Coast University for his senior season.

Antoine Villard, RHP (FR, Arizona Western Community College [38-18], Ariz.) [Bio]
Villard sat out the 2019 season and has transferred to Clarendon College, where he will be reunited with France teammates Leo Jiminian and Maël Zan.

Jordan Vujovich, OF (RS SO, University of Oklahoma [33-23], Okla.) [Bio]
Only a sophomore, Vujovich appeared in more than 80 percent of the Sooners’ games, showcasing an excellent batting eye. One of six Team Serbia members at American universities, Vujovich drew 39 walks in 44 games and played flawless outfield defence. After hitting .310 for 2018 California JuCo champions San Joaquin Delta College, Vujovich hit .246/.444/.338 in 130 at bats in 2019.

Frédéric Walter, 3B (SO, Seminole State College [39-14], Okla.) [Bio]

Walter played sparingly in the second half of the season, receiving only a single at bat after March 22. It is possible that he was injured as he performed well in limited at bats beforehand. His best game came on Feb. 26, when he went 2-for-2 with a home run and a walk against Redlands, the only multi-hit game of 2019.

In total, he was 7-for-21 with two doubles, the dinger, and two walks against six strikeouts, bringing his two-year career for the Trojans to .216/.250/.351 in 37 at bats. In 44 chances of 29 games in 2018-19, his fielding percentage was a solid .955.

Benny Wanger, 1B-RHP (SR, Yale University [18-23], Conn.) [Bio]

Wanger collected a number of awards during his four years for the bulldogs, including All-Ivy as a first baseman in 2017 and a relief pitcher in 2018. Wanger missed most of the 2019 season, appearing in only five games, during which he went 7-for-15 with eight walks, a double, a home run, and two stolen bases. The Israel wunderkind struck out three of the four hitters he faced on the mound.

Over 127 games in four seasons, Wanger hit .256/.384/.435. His results on the mound are bloated by a rough freshman year, with a 4.52 cumulative ERA and 1.46 WHIP; however, in his two seasons as an upperclassman, Wanger struck out 35 in 31.1 with an ERA of 0.86.

Kyran Weemaels, RHP (JR, Cabrini University [31-11], Penn.) [Bio]
Weemaels was named to the Atlantic East All-Conference First Team after turning in a solid season in the Cavaliers’ rotation. His best start of the season came on Mar. 19 against Eastern University, when he struck out six and did not allow a run or a walk in seven innings. Weemaels had a complete game seven-hitter on Apr. 6 against Newmann, whiffing six.

The Belgium national teamer finished with a 4.07 ERA, though that mark was at 1.96 before his final two starts of the season. In 48.2, he allowed 51 hits and 15 walks, striking out 32 as batters hit .268 against him. All of the figures were career bests as he lowered his total ERA to 4.84 in 106 innings.

Terrance Whittle, Head Coach (Second Season, Stillman College [13-30], Ala.) [Bio]
Whittle’s Tigers took a step back in 2019, finishing 13-30 after a 19-22 campaign in his first year at the helm. Stillman featured one All-Conference player in the university’s first year in the Southern States Athletic conference. Whittle was a former MLB International Envoy Coach (2002-2010), working with Nigeria and South Africa particularly. He won the Envoy Coach of the Year Award in 2004.

Angelo Wicklert, RHP (FR, Arizona Western College [38-18], Ariz.) [Bio]

Wicklert teamed up with Hackl to give the Matadors an all-European battery in a few games for the second year in-a-row. The Dutch right-hander did not appear in a game until March, seeing regular action until April 13, after which Wicklert did not pitch again.

The first-year hurler’s first eight games were without an earned run as Wicklert totalled 7.1 frames with only six hits, one free pass, and seven Ks. His final line included 12 innings with six runs on 10 hits and nine walks, plus 12 strikeouts.

For those curious, Wicklert has his own website detailing his career,team selections, and accomplishments [link].

Noah Williamson, OF-1B (RS FR, Point Loma Nazarene University [32-21], Calif.) [Bio]
A rare U.S. resident of Switzerland’s national team, Williamson has yet to appear in a game for the Sea Lions, taking a redshirt season in his first year at the university. The 6-3, 185-pounder was a member of the Under-17 NTIS US Southwest Team in 2017.

James Wood, LHP (SR, Concord University [33-17], W.V.) [Bio]
For the second season of his four, Wood did not appear in a single game. Over his time with the Mountain Lions, the Cambridge-born southpaw saw action in five innings over six games, finishing with a 10.70 ERA.

Joey Yancey, RHP (SO, Transylvania University [16-24], Ky.) [Bio]
Yancey is a singular exception on this list as both the only player from Russia and also the only known adoptee. The righty was born in Krasnoyarsk and adopted by a family from the States. Yancey had a great rookie year in 2018, finishing second on the team in both ERA (3.09) and strikeouts per nine (10.41). After pitching 23.1 innings last season, however, Yancey’s total dropped to 11.2 as he struggled with command (10 walks, eight hit batters, and two wild pitches), striking out only seven and finishing with a 7.71 ERA.

Maël Zan, OF (FR, Clarendon Community College [28-26], Tex.) [Bio]

Zan got to man the outfield for the Bulldogs in three games with his teammate for France, Leo Jiminian, playing side-by-side in centre (Jiminian) and right (Zan). Zan, however, saw a full season’s worth of games and showed an intriguing blend of skills. Checking in at 6-3, 198, Zan was also the model of consistency, never going more than three games without a hit.

The right-fielder had his best game on Feb. 28, when he roped three doubles and a three-bagger in four at bats, walking in his other plate appearance. Zan posted three-hit days on Mar. 19, Apr. 5, and May 4, while finishing the season with an unusual line score: 1-for-1 with three runs, five RBI, one walk, and a home run. In sum, Zan slashed .277/.433/.431 with seven stolen bases, striking out 40 times in 137 at bats but also drawing 32 walks, most on the team.

Nick Zouras, C (SR, Illinois State University [36-26], Ill.) [Bio]
Zouras finished his career on a high note as the Redbirds advanced all the way to the Louisville NCAA Regionals and won 14 more games than the year before. Zouras won the final MVC Player of the Week award to end his career after going 7-for-13 with three doubles.

Along the way, the team won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game. The potential Greek national teamer slashed .231/.314/.343 as Illinois State’s regular catcher, all around his career marks.

Stay tuned for our post-season awards. Previous installments in the series:
Introduction [link]
Players A-B [link]
Players C-D [link]
Players E-J [link]
Players K-M [link]
Players N-R [link]
Players S-T [link]

About Gabriel Fidler

Extra Innings UK covers baseball around the world, focussing on the sport at the national team level, with features on prominent players, scouting reports, and occasional breaking news. We are fully credentialled by MLB and have covered the World Baseball Classic, continental championships, and the U.S. minor leagues.
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