As 2019 draws to a close, so does the best decade in the Virginia Cavaliers’ baseball program history. An ACC Tournament title. Numerous trips to the College World Series. Multiple appearances in the Championship Series in Omaha. And a national title.
It’s been quite a ten year period.
With that in mind, we set out to name the UVa Baseball All-Decade team. One player for each position (and a few bench and pen players).
C - Matt Thaiss (‘14 - ‘16)
Before being selected 16th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, Matt Thaiss was a hitting machine for the Hoos. A career .338 hitter, Thaiss belted 10 home runs in each of his sophomore and junior seasons on his way to third team and second team All-American honors in each of those years respectively. He made his Major League debut on July 3rd, 2019.
1b - Pavin Smith (‘15 - ‘17)
Pavin Smith didn’t take long endearing himself to Wahoo faithful. In just his first season, Smith delivered a massive two-run home run and the eventual game winning RBI in UVa’s Game Three win over Vanderbilt to win the 2015 College World Series. And that was just the beginning as Smith went on earn Second Team All-ACC honors in 2016 and First Team All-ACC honors in 2017. His 28 home runs are good for 6th on the UVA all-time list and his four career homers in June are the record for Hoos in the NCAA postseason. After a stellar career, Smith was selected seventh overall in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondback.
2b - Phil Gosselin (‘08 - ‘10)
Though most of Gosselin’s career came before the decade began, his 2010 was good enough to earn him honors. In 2010, he would be named an All-American and First Team All-ACC. He set the UVa single season hits record with 100 while batting .382 and leading the team in runs (67), doubles (22), home runs (11), and total bases (163).
3b - Kenny Towns (‘12 - ‘15)
Can we just call this guy Mr. June? While his four-year career was outstanding, Kenny Towns will be most remembered in Charlottesville lore for his exploits in the NCAA tournament. He was named to the All-Regional teams in 2013, 2014, and 2015 and also named to the 2015 All-NCAA College World Series Team. For his career, Towns owns UVa postseason records in the following categories; games, starts, at bats, hits, total bases. Shall I go on? Ok, Doubles, triples, and RBI. Yet, despite all those records, he may be most remembered for his web gem in the Hoos’ Game Three win in the 2015 College World Series.
SS - Chris Taylor (‘10 - ‘12)
His game-winner that sent UVa to the 2011 College World Series should be enough to warrant consideration on this list, but Taylor was the epitome of table-setter during his years in Charlottesville. In 2011 and 2012, he led the team in runs out of the leadoff spot including 63 runs scored in 2011 which is good for fifth all-time in the program. After being selected by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he’s continued his clutch ways drilling a go-ahead home run in game one of the 2017 NLCS on his way to Co-MVP honors
OF - Derek Fisher (‘12 - ‘14)
Despite being selected in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of High School, Derek Fisher came to UVa and made an instant impact for the Cavaliers. In his freshman season, Fisher led all ACC freshmen in home runs, triples, RBI, and slugging on his way to Freshman All-American honors. His eight triples that season are tied for a program best and he’s third all-time in career triples as well. In 2014, he anchored the Cavalier lineup as they came one game short of winning the College World Series and tied for the tournament lead with 12 RBI. Fisher was selected 37th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros and made his mark with the franchise scoring the game winning run in game five of the 2017 World Series.
OF - Adam Haseley (‘15 - ‘17)
Talk about a guy who did it all for Virginia. On the mound he had a career 18-5 record with a 2.51 ERA and is most remembered for working five scoreless innings in a must-win Game 2 of the 2015 College World Series Finals. But all that pales in comparison to what Haseley accomplished as a Center-Fielder for the Hoos. After earning Freshman All-American honors in 2015, he followed that up with third team honors in 2016. But it was his monster 2017 season that propelled him to being the eighth overall selection in the 2017 draft. In that year he led the team in batting, hits, home runs, runs, doubles, walks and total bases on his way to a first-team All-American selection. For his career, Haseley ranks third in runs, ninth in triples, and tenth in at-bats. He made his MLB debut on June 4th, 2019 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
OF - Mike Papi (‘12 - ‘14)
First team All-American in 2013. First Team All-ACC in 2013 and 2014. ACC batting champ in 2013. ACC home run champ in 2014. Yeah, you could say Mike Papi had a decent career in the orange and blue. Before being selected 38th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, Papi was an offensive beast. Not only did he hit home runs, just the threat of his power kept pitchers honest. He’s fifth in program history with 121 walks, holds the season record with 61 in 2014, and his .517 on-base percentage in 2013 is good for second in school history.
SP - Danny Hultzen (‘09 - ‘11)
Perhaps the greatest college player to ever come out of UVa. Hultzen was the ACC Pitcher of the year in 2010 and 2011 while also being First Team All-ACC. In his junior year he won the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year while helping the Cavaliers to their 2nd College World Series before becoming the 2nd overall draft pick in the MLB Draft.
SP - Brandon Waddell (‘13 - ‘15)
UVa’s leader in career games started, Waddell was Third-Team All-ACC before cementing himself in UVa lore with his pitching in the NCAA Tournament. Waddell was named to the CWS All-Tournament Team in ‘14 and ‘15.
SP - Nathan Kirby (‘13 - ‘15)
Kirby came into UVa with much fanfare and a highly rated recruit. In his sophomore season he started making his name with a no-hitter against Pittsburgh. He would go on to win All-American honors in ‘14 and win the ACC Pitcher of the Year. An injury would derail his junior season but he would still earn First Team All-ACC honors and be the pitcher on the mound as UVa won their national championship.
RP - Josh Sborz (‘13 - ‘15)
In postseason play not many have been better on the mound. In 35 innings, he holds the UVa mark with a 0.51 ERA and is tied with Brandon Waddell with 6 wins. 2015 would allow Sborz to make his mark earning 2nd Team All-ACC and Most Outstanding Player in the CWS.
RP - Kyle Crockett (‘11 - ‘13)
A First Team All-ACC selection in 2013, Crockett lead the team in Saves with 12 and is 2nd overall in career ERA at 1.98. Crockett would go on to be drafted in the 4th round by the Reds.
Closer - Nick Howard (‘12 - ‘14)
One of the best closers to ever wear orange and blue, Howard would set the ACC saves record in 2014 with 20 saves. He would earn First Team All-ACC honors in 2013 and ‘14 while being named an All-American in 2014. Howard would go on to be the third Cavalier selected in the 1st round of the MLB draft being selected 19th overall by the Cincinnati Reds.
Bench - Joe McCarthy (‘13 - ‘15)
The ACC Freshman of the Year in 2013, McCarthy would go on to a prolific career. He’d be tabbed All-ACC in 2013 and ‘14 before getting injured his junior season. McCarthy would be drafted in the 5th round by the Rays.
Bench - Steven Proscia (‘09 - ‘11)
In probably the toughest decision on this list, Kenny Towns edged out Steven Proscia at third. But that doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of the 2009 Freshman All-American. Proscia is the program’s career leader in RBI and ranks in the top-ten in home runs, hits, total bases, at-bats, and doubles. Before being selected in the 7th rounds of the 2011 MLB Draft, Proscia was named All-ACC First Team, ACC Tournament MVP, and Charlottesville Regional All-Tournament Team.