July 20, 2021
Saturday night, the West Coast League reached a huge milestone when Jarren Duran batted sixth and started in center field for the first-place Boston Red Sox, becoming the 100th alumnus of a current or past West Coast League team to make his MLB debut.
Chronologically, the list of 100 begins with Mike Thurman, who pitched briefly in 1993 for the Aloha Knights, an amateur (and independent) team based in the Portland area. The Knights would later join the summer collegiate Pacific International League, and in 2005 a few PIL teams broke away to form today’s West Coast League.
Among the early WCLers were future MLB stars Chris Davis, Mark Rzepczynski, and Tommy Hanson. Just last year, former Cowlitz Black Bears ace Shane Bieber captured American League Cy Young honors, and he recently earned his second American League All-Star nod. The long list of other notable WCL alumni includes Seattle Mariners stars Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzalez; Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins; and 2021 rotation mainstays James Kaprielian (Oakland) and Nick Pivetta (Boston)
“I look forward to being around for the next 100,” said WCL Commissioner Rob Neyer, “and at the rate we’re going, I don’t think it’ll take long to get there. We’ll set another single-season record later this summer, and with our expansion to 16 teams next year, we’ve never had more opportunities for young top-tier talent.”
In 2016, the speedy Duran batted .278 with the Walla Walla Sweets, ranking among the league leaders in triples and stolen bases. This season with Boston’s Triple-A Worcester farm club, Duran blasted 15 home runs in only 46 games.
A complete list of WCL alumni with MLB experience can be found here.
About the West Coast League: The West Coast League is the West’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. Encompassing Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and now Alberta, the WCL showcases pro prospects from major collegiate conferences around the nation. Every summer, the league features unparalleled fan and player experiences, with North America’s best baseball weather and a mix of classic ballparks and dramatic scenery. The 2019 MLB amateur draft began with former Corvallis Knight Adley Rutschman selected with the overall No. 1 pick by the Baltimore Orioles. Also in 2019, 317 WCL alumni were active in affiliated professional baseball, including 45 in the major leagues, while overall attendance in the West Coast League increased to nearly half a million fans.