Category Archives: baseball

Pierce alum Elliot Morris finding his groove in Minor Leagues

Pierce alum Elliot Morris was an All-NWAC first team selection in 2013.

Missions’ Morris developing full arsenal of pitches

By John Conniff, For the Express-News : April 16, 2015 : Updated: April 16, 2015 5:32pm

Elliot Morris

PEORIA, Ariz. — Missions pitcher Elliot Morris (Pierce College) has shown the ability to blow a mid-90s fastball past nearly everyone on the planet.

Finding other pitches to throw did not really register high on his daily list of things to do until well into the second year of his pro career. But intelligent minor-league pitchers soon realize that while blowing away the competition in the Midwest and California leagues is great, they are going to need something more to get to the major leagues.

Morris, 22, is one of the guys who figured it out.

The big right-hander (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) was one of four prospects traded to the San Diego Padres from the Los Angeles Angels for closer Huston Street at midseason last year. After the trade, he began to form a strong bond with High-A Lake Elsinore (California) Storm pitching coach Bronswell Patrick, who began the process of transitioning Morris from just a thrower into being a pitcher.

“He kind of let me go on my own for a while, and then once he had seen me a few times he started making suggestions,” Morris said last year at the end of his season in Lake Elsinore. “Then I made some and we both kind of found a place where we could work.”

One of the primary jobs of minor-league coaches is not only to provide instruction on baseball mechanics, but to work with the players to get them to assess the flaws in their own games and give them the tools to make improvements.

Before coming to the Padres’ organization, Morris had relied almost exclusively on throwing a four-seam fastball, which is the pitch that arrives with the most velocity but is also the one with least movement. He would mix in an occasional slider and an attempt at a change-up, but primarily it was straight “cheddar.”

He’s an aggressive guy,” said Patrick about the reasons for Morris’ success despite throwing only one real pitch.

“He could locate his fastball and spin a slider up there once in a while, and with his stuff you are going to have success. But that is at the A-ball level, where guys swing at pitches 6 inches off of the plate and don’t have the patience of more advanced hitters you see in Double-A.”

Patrick was able to pick up a few mechanical flaws in his delivery, principally getting Morris to take more time with his load before throwing the ball. He also worked with the Washington state native on adding to his arsenal of pitches.

By getting him to focus bullpen sessions more on his change-up and introducing him to the two-seam fastball, which has more sink to right-handed hitters than a four-seamer, Patrick helped Morris begin to see better results.

“He did a really good job on picking up the two-seamer at the end,” Patrick said. “He worked on his change-up and got to a point where he was throwing his change-up with confidence during the game.”

In his eight starts with the Storm, Morris had a 3.56 ERA in 48 innings, a significant improvement from his 4.17 ERA with Inland Empire. While his strikeout total fell to 33 in Lake Elsinore, he also cut his walk rate by more than half, issuing only 11 free passes in the Padres system. That allowed him to go deeper into games; all but one of his starts went over six innings.

After an offseason of limited throwing, the big goal for Morris coming into the spring was to build on what he learned last year. For him, that meant becoming more consistent with his secondary pitches.

“Right now, it’s just about being comfortable and making sure that I have the correct mechanics,” Morris said. “I really like the success that I had last year with the two-seamer and change and hope to build on it this year.”

In San Antonio, he has joined other pitching prospects Colin Rea and Justin Hancock in what Padres’ farm director Sam Geaney said, “should be one of the organization’s better staffs that could really put it together.”

But to Patrick, who has been promoted to the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, Morris’ success will not be a big surprise.

“He put things together once he came over with us,” Patrick said. “He just has to continue to progress on what we were working on and things are going to work out for him. But the main thing is that he is just a great all around kid.”

John Conniff is a freelance writer and a contributor to FoxSportsSanDiego.com.

Pierce Alum d’Aundray VanSlyke named Appalachian Athletic Conference Player of the Week

D'Aundray VanSlyke

Baseball – Mon, Apr. 20, 2015 at 3:50 PM by Troy Baranik

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -Kenny Knudsen of Bryan and D’Aundray VanSlyke (SR/Vaughn, WA) of St. Andrews are the Appalachian Athletic Conference Baseball Pitcher and Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday. This is the first weekly award for Van Slyke.

A senior outfielder and a pitcher, Van Slyke led the Knights to a series win over Milligan (TN) with his clutch hitting and strong pitching. He finished with eight hits, a home run and six RBIs including the game winning RBI single to beat Milligan in game three. He also picked up a save in game one on Friday and threw three scoreless innings in the game three win. 

VanSlyke is now leading the team in average at .380, home runs with 6, doubles with 12, total bases with 83, and second in RBIs with 35 and hits with 49. He also leads the team in ERA at 0.55 and has two wins and three saves in 20 innings with 31 strikeouts.

ABCA – Junior College Pacific Associations Division Baseball Poll – April 15

ABCA – Junior College Pacific Associations Division
April 15 Poll

RANK SCHOOL REGION
1 San Joaquin Delta NorCal
2 Palomar SoCal
3 Mt. Hood NWAC
4 Cypress SoCal
5 Fresno City NorCal
6 Oxnard SoCal
7 Spokane NWAC
8 Santa Barbara SoCal
9 Feather River NorCal
10 Orange Coast SoCal
11 Edmonds NWAC
12 Santa Rosa NorCal
13 Southwestern SoCal
14 San Mateo NorCal
15 Tacoma NWAC
16 Golden West SoCal
17 Ohlone NorCal
18 Fullerton SoCal
19 Lower Columbia NWAC
20 Solano NorCal
21 Rio Hondo SoCal
22 Marin NorCal
23 Bellevue NWAC
24 Glendale SoCal
25 Cosumnes River NorCal
Others receiving votes:  
NWAC –Treasure Valley, Lane, Walla Walla.
SoCal –
San Bernadino, Long Beach, Cerritos.

NorCal –
Gavilan, Merced, Folsom Lake.

Alaska Airlines Baseball Coaches Poll – April 14

NWAC - Alaska Airline Coaches Poll

Alaska Airlines Baseball Coaches Poll
April 14, 2015
Rank
Team
Record (Region, Overall)
Pts
Prev
1. Mt. Hood 11-1, 19-8 53 (1) -
2. Spokane 9-3, 20-5 46 (2) -
3. Edmonds 6-2, 20-6 45 (2) -
4. Tacoma 8-1, 19-8 37 (1) -
5. Lower Columbia 9-0, 21-8 36 (1) -
6. Bellevue 6-6, 19-11 33 (1) -
7. Columbia Basin 8-4, 21-7 32 -
8. Everett 9-3, 14-12 16 -
Also receiving votes: Treasure Valley 12, Lane 1, Walla Walla 1
Final Poll

Yakima Valley renames Parker field in honor of NWAC Hall of Famer Bill Faller

Baseball field’s new name honors two local legends

By Jerry Ward, Parker Youth & Sports Foundationfor the Yakima Herald

The April 18 Yakima Valley Community College baseball doubleheader will start on Parker Field, but end on a newly renamed Parker Faller Field, a tribute to two men who have done so much for Yakima sports.

The original Parker Field was built in 1937 for a minor league baseball team the Pippens, owned by Shirley D. Parker, a Yakima High School graduate who became a trial lawyer, successful businessman, author and lecturer, whose love of sports remained a priority throughout his life. Daryl Parker, son of Shirley and Eleanor Parker, initiated the name change to honor both his father and Bill Faller, a decorated World War II Army Air Force veteran, who came to YVCC to coach football and baseball in 1961 and amassed 664 baseball wins before he retired in 1986. Those wins made Faller No. 1 in community college baseball records, and, fittingly, the Northwest Athletic Conference championship trophy was named in his honor in 1986. He’s also been inducted into three athletic halls of fame.

Coach Faller turns 90 this month. Following his military service, Faller graduated from Washington State College in 1948, played a couple of years of minor league baseball, and went on to teach and coach in Prosser and then Wapato. When Yakima Junior College baseball coach Chuck “Bobo” Brayton moved on to Washington State University, it was only natural that Faller be next in the batting lineup. Faller and Brayton had both grown up in Skagit Valley and played ball together, remaining good friends until Brayton’s death just a few weeks ago.

Faller, an active and successful teacher and administrator, also was president of the faculty union and was a community activist and member of the Rainbow Coalition.

A guy like that likes to stay busy, so it was no surprise that Faller, after retiring in 1986 from YVCC, became the first president of the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation, an organization established in 2004 with a primary mission of providing financial assistance to the youth sports programs of the Valley. He served three terms as president and continues to serve on the board, and is active on a committee seeking to raise funds for improvements at Parker Faller Field.

Daryl Parker, a charter board member of the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation has been instrumental in the creation and support of the Bill Faller/Bobo Brayton Endowment Fund, administered by the Parker Foundation, a fund that has grown to over a quarter million dollars in six years. In 2012, Daryl and his wife, Sherrie, created the YVCC Faculty Award, providing a financial stipend to the outstanding faculty member as chosen by their faculty colleagues.

The addition of Faller’s name to Parker Field recognizes a living legacy of over 60 years of community service, which actually stretches back even further. Daryl Parker’s father, Shirley, was the stepson of A.E. Larson, famed for the downtown Larson Building and Rosedell Mansion on Yakima Avenue. Shirley and his mother, Rose Hawkins Parker Larson, donated land and substantial funds during the 1940s where YVCC, Larson Park, the Larson Gallery and Parker Faller Field stand today.

The Parker Youth & Sports Foundation invites the community to join us on April 18, to honor Faller and Shirley Parker. The dedication ceremony will take place between the YVCC/Treasure Valley Community College games, about 2:30 p.m. A reception follows in the Hopf Union Building.

• Jerry Ward is a past president and board member of the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation and now serves as the official historian of the group.

NWAC Hall of Famer Bobo Brayton Passes

Bobo Brayton

YAKIMA, Wash. — You should have seen the look on Mel Stottlemyre’s face.

The former New York Yankees pitcher and coach, in Yakima for a Parker Youth & Sports Foundation event in 2006, had just seen Bobo Brayton enter the room. Stottlemyre hurried through a crowd, hugged Brayton, then held each of his former coach’s shoulders while looking at Brayton’s beaming countenance with sheer, unadulterated joy.

That’s the way it no doubt was for countless Washington State Cougars and others who had played for, coached with or otherwise knew the college baseball coaching legend, who died early Saturday.

He was 89.

“Bobo,” Stottlemyre said in a telephone interview, “was loved by everybody. He had a way about him. Once you knew Bobo, it’s like you’d known him all your life.”

Stottlemyre, though never a Cougar, had been a Yakima Valley College Indian with Brayton as his coach. It was here, after all, that Frederick Charles Brayton began his Hall of Fame career.

Brayton was hired at YVC in 1950 and led the baseball program through 11 years and 10 league championships before succeeding Buck Bailey at WSU in 1961.

There he coached for 33 years, and Yakima Valley products Bob Garretson Jr., Manny Perez, Dave Edler were among his players.

“I think all of us who played for him, we were all very close,” Edler, a Yakima minister, said Saturday. “It was an honor to have played for him.”

Or to have been a teammate and friend, as Tom Parry had been at Washington State before embarking on his own career as a football coach at Central Washington University and Yakima Valley Community College.

“What a guy,” said Parry, who played football with Brayton in 1947 for coach Phil Sarboe. “High energy, no BS. Tough as nails, played linebacker and fullback for us, and I was very fortunate to get to know Bobo and realize what a wonderful damned guy he was.”

Consider, then, Bill Faller, who succeeded Brayton as Yakima Valley’s baseball coach. Faller had known Brayton since the two played youth baseball together in Mount Vernon.

And unlike most, Faller affectionately referred to Brayton as “Charlie.” Brayton, meanwhile, called Faller “Willie.”

“With Charlie, he was able to go, go, go, and then he’d maybe sit down and rest his eyes for a little bit,” Faller said. “When I replaced him at YVC, the one thing he told me was to go to bed at 11 o’clock and get a good night’s sleep. To Charlie, that meant going to bed at 11 and getting up at 5 in the morning.”

Garretson, who played two years for Faller and then one for Brayton in 1964 before signing a professional contract, said, “First of all, baseball has lost a great coach and person. Bobo was unique, and he really understood his players. And he cared for them.

“He was demanding, but he was fun to play for because he knew the capabilities of his players. One of the reasons he was so successful is he put the right guys in the right spots at the right times.”

He put Perez at shortstop in 1970, and for two seasons the Highland High School graduate served as team captain while also excelling as one of the best infielders Brayton coached.

Perez had driven Faller to Pullman earlier last week to be with Brayton, who passed away at his home near Pullman.

“It’s a sad day for Cougar nation,” Perez said. “There were several of us who were with him, and we were able to hold his hand and say some personal things, and I think he was able to hear us. It was tough.

“But he was a man who meant a lot to a lot of people. Just his personality, his character, the things he taught us that transferred to the way we lived. He taught us that we were going to get knocked down, but when that happened you get back up, dust yourself off and move forward.”

As Brayton himself had, winning 1,413 games (251 at YVC, 1,162 at WSU).

At Pullman his teams won nearly 70 percent of their games, claiming 21 conference championships and making the NCAA postseason 10 times including College World Series berths in 1965 and 1976.

Stottlemyre, Edler, Ron Cey, John Olerud, Aaron Sele and another Yakiman, Scott Hatteberg, were among the major leaguers tutored by Brayton.

When he retired in 1994, Brayton’s win total ranked fourth all-time on the NCAA list. And he has since been inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame, State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame, Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame, WSU Athletic Hall of Fame, NWAC Hall of Fame and YVCC Athletic Hall of Fame.

As an athlete, Brayton was a three-sport Cougar, playing football, baseball for Buck Bailey and also basketball during the 1943-44 season for Jack Friel.

He became the school’s first baseball All-American in 1947, and WSU’s baseball facility is named Bailey-Brayton Field.

Said Parry, “Bobo is right up there with Babe Hollingbery, Jack Friel and a select few others in terms of what he meant to Washington State University.”

Said Edler, “I think about coach a lot, and I still use Boboisms when I talk to people.”

Said Stottlemyre, “I had the privilege of playing for Bobo his last year at YVC, and boy, what an experience. I learned a lot from him. He was a great coach and a great teacher in a lot of different ways, and I will really miss him.”

Said Perez, “Like Bobo always said, ‘Go Cougs.’”

ABCA – Junior College Pacific Associations Division Baseball Poll – March 17

ABCA – Junior College Pacific Associations Division
March 17 Poll

RANK SCHOOL REGION
1 San Joaquin Delta NorCal
2 Fullerton SoCal
3 Columbia Basin NWAC
4 Palomar SoCal
5 Fresno City NorCal
6 Cypress SoCal
7 Yakima Valley NWAC
8 Oxnard SoCal
9 Feather River NorCal
10 Santa Barbara SoCal
11 Treasure Valley NWAC
12 Cosumnes River NorCal
13 Riverside SoCal
14 Merced NorCal
15 Edmonds NWAC
16 Rio Hondo SoCal
17 Gavilan NorCal
18 Canyons SoCal
19 Spokane NWAC
20 San Mateo NorCal
21 Orange Coast SoCal
22 Ohlone NorCal
23 Bellevue NWAC
24 Southwestern SoCal
25 Santa Rosa NorCal

Others:  
NWAC – Lower Columbia, Mt. Hood.                                             
SoCal
– Saddleback, Cerritos, Irvine Valley.                                          
NorCal – Cabrillo, Marin, Mission.

Mt. Hood Baseball alum Jake Dahlberg named Pitcher of the Week

Jake Dahlberg Named Horizon League Pitcher of the Week

CHICAGO – UIC baseball player Jake Dahlberg has been named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week for the period of March 9-15, as announced by the conference office on Monday afternoon. Dahlberg was nearly unhittable in Saturday’s series-clinching win against Valparaiso, striking out a career high nine batters and allowing no free passes.

"Jake was outstanding," said head coach Mike Dee. "He stayed ahead of hitters and used great angle on the ball which kept us in control of the game."

Dahlberg had a shutout heading into the ninth inning against the Crusades, but two unearned runs were allowed to score off of defensive miscues by the Flames. The Vancouver, Wash. native gave up a mere three hits over 8.2 innings of work. His nine strikeouts serves as the program’s highest total since April 30, 2013 (Suminski – 12).

NWAC announces Hall of Fame Class of 2015

NWAC Hall of Fame Banner

The NWAC Executive Board has announced the 2015 Hall of Fame inductions. 
The following teams & individuals have been approved to be inducted into the NWAC Hall of Fame on June 4, 2015:

TEAMS            
1983 Wenatchee Valley Football Team
1986 Walla Walla Football Team

INDIVIDUALS  
Sam Brasch, Spokane
Anthony Davis, Spokane
Curt Didier, Columbia Basin
Mike Fitzpatrick, Columbia Basin
Mike Rice, Spokane
Vic Wallace, Spokane

Hall of Fame inductions are selected on a regional rotation. This year’s Hall of Fame will take place at the Red Lion Hotel in Pacso, Washington.

Organizers report excellent scout coverage of 2014 NWAC Baseball Sophomore All-Star Event

The 2014 NWAC Baseball Showcase was recently held under clear skies at Courter Field on the Bellevue College campus in front of 62 scouts and recruiters. The group included 23 professional baseball scouts and 39 four-year college coaches, including 16 from the NCAA division I ranks.  The heavily attended showcase featured one of the deepest pools of talent in years, particularly in the pitching area.  Eight pitchers had fast balls clocked over 90 mph with another 16 throwing in the 88-90 mph range.  The group was led by a trio of arms throwing in the 92-93 mph range in Linn-Benton’s Austin Kelly, a transfer from the University of Portland, Lane’s Jackson Bertsch, and Zander Clouse of Bellevue.

Big Bend’s Reign Letkeman was one of the top two-way players, garnering several hits in the scrimmage portion of the game while throwing 89 mph as a pitcher and defended well at shortstop.  Other infielders who displayed promising tools were Lane Lacrone of Treasure Valley, who ran the fastest 60 yard dash time of all infielders (7.1 seconds on grass), and third baseman Dylan Lavelle of Everett, who had the top arm strength of all NWAC infielders, with a throwing velocity of 89 mph.

Kyle Beamof Lane had the top throwing velocity of the catchers at 85 mph and recorded a throwdown time of 1.95 seconds; second to Bellevue’s Sam Finfer, who had 1.89 throwdown time. Finfer and a second Bellevue catcher, Alex Galgano, were the only position players to register home runs during the batting practice segment as well.

A trio of outfielders displayed the top tools in the entire showcase field. Shoreline’s Jacob Zanon had the top arm strength of all 102 players in the event with a registered throwing velocity of 93 mph from right field. Zanon also had the second fasted 60 yard dash time in the showcase at 6.83 seconds. He was bested by another north region outfielder; Douglas College’s Jovan Ewusie, who had the fastest time in the event at 6.78 seconds and also registered arm strength at 89 mph. Chemeketa’s Gerhett Moser was not far behind Zanon and Ewusie, running a 6.94 60 yard dash and threw 88 mph from the outfield.   

Paul Nevue and Rusty Trudeau, representatives of NWAC sponsors MMT and Baden Sports respectively were also on hand to witness one of the top NWAC baseball showcases in years.  The NWAC baseball committee would like to thank our NWAC sponsors and all four-year college coaches and professional baseball scouts who attended.