Cal State Fullerton freshman pitching sensation Thomas Eshelman, Baseball America’s #10 rated 2012 WCL prospect, leads Titans to lofty ranking

The West Coast League has been known as a pitching league. That’s ringing very true this spring as several former WCL hurlers have been dominant. No one has been as impressive as frosh Thomas Eshelman (pictured) of Cal State Fullerton.

Eshelman was introduced to college baseball last summer with the Klamath Falls Gems. Thomas pitched primarily out of the bullpen as he came to the Gems with innings restrictions. The right-hander from Carlsbad, California logged 29.1 innings going 5-0 while recording three saves, posting a 0.61 ERA and walking only 8 and striking out 35. His performance earned Thomas second-team All-WCL honors.

This spring, Eshelman has been brilliant for the #5-ranked Titans (24-4, 3-0). Most impressively, the frosh has not walked a single batter over 7 starts and 50 innings. His ERA is a team-low 1.26 and he’s struck out 35 while compiling a 6-1 record.

Another Titan with WCL experience who is pitching very well is sophomore Grahamm Wiest. The former Cowlitz Black Bear is 5-1 with a 2.78 ERA over 7 starts for Cal State Fullerton. He pitched in Cowlitz following his freshman season in 2011 making a team-leading 9 starts and logging 59.1 innings (2-3, 2.57).

The Pac-12 first-place Oregon Ducks (22-6, 8-1) are led by quartet of former WCL pitchers including arguably the nation’s top closer, Jimmie Sherfy. The Sherf, who helped the Corvallis Knights capture a WCL crown in 2011 (1-0 2.16), has already registered 8 saves and made 18 appearances for the #12-ranked Fighting Ducks. The junior from Camarillo, California has struck out 26 in 18.1 innings while going 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA.

Baseball America’s #5 rated 2012 WCL prospect Cole Irvin of Cowlitz has emerged as one of the Ducks’ top starters, along with ex-Klamath Falls Gem Tommy Thorpe, as the frosh southpaw is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA over 7 starts including a complete-game shutout of University of Washington this past Saturday.

Thorpe, a sophomore, is 4-2 and has posted a 2.48 ERA over 7 starts and 43.2 innings. With Klamath last summer, the lefty went 2-1 over 6 starts and struck out 30 in 30 innings while posting a 3.00 ERA for the Gems.

Irvine shined for the Black Bears in 2012 going 5-1 with a save while striking out 47 in 56.1 innings over 9 starts and 11 appearances earning second-team All-WCL honors. His 2.55 ERA was a team-low for Cowlitz starters.

Redshirt junior Jeff Gold, another former Black Bear, has posted Oregon’s lowest ERA at 1.23 over 7 appearances and 3 starts. Gold is 3-0 and has struck out 26 in 29.1 innings while walking only 3. Jeff pitched two summers for Cowlitz earning first-team All-WCL honors (6-2, 2.19) in 2011 and All-WCL honorable mention honors (2-6, 2.84) in 2010.

Ex-Corvallis Knights’ southpaw Matt Boyd of Oregon State (22-4, 5-1) has already collected two Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honors for the #2-ranked Oregon State Beavers. Boyd (0-1, 1.55, 4 svs) earned All-WCL honorable mention honors in 2010 for Corvallis. The senior from Mercer Island, Washington is 6-0 over 7 starts including a complete-game one-hit shutout of Arizona State on March 22. Boyd has held the opposition to a .187 batting average while posting a 1.69 ERA and striking out 45 in 48 innings.

Boyd’s Beaver teammate Scott Schultz has been masterful as OSU’s closer. The former Knight, who helped Corvallis win a WCL title in 2011 (4-3, 3.53), is 1-0 with 5 saves over 10 relief appearances. The junior from Gig Harbor, Washington has struck out 18 over 17.2 innings and has yet to allow an earned run.

Further east, #15-ranked Notre Dame (15-9, 2-4) is led by senior ace Adam Norton. The right-hander features a team-low 1.39 ERA and is 6-0 over 7 starts including a complete-game shutout of Virginia Tech on March 2. Following his freshman season, Norton (1-1, 6.75) pitched for the Bend Elks in 2010.

Another WCL alum excelling out East is junior right-hander Taylor Williams of Kent State (10-14, 4-2). Perfect Game Crosschecker’s #8 rated 2012 WCL prospect is 5-1 over 7 starts (including two complete games) with a team-low 1.90 ERA. Williams (2-2, 2.12) closed for Cowlitz last summer recording 7 saves over 17 relief appearances while striking out 38 in 29.2 innings.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching…

* Ex-Falcon (2010) southpaw Augey Bill of Arizona is 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA over 13 relief appearances for the Wildcats
* Ex-Sweets Joey Wagman (2010) and Matt Imhof (2012) of #21-ranked Cal Poly are 6-1 and 3-0, respectively, over 7 starts each. Wagman has struck out 59 over 46 innings pitched and Imhof’s ERA is 1.33
* Ex-BlueJackets (2011) closer Reid Reilly (2-1, 1.12) of Cal Poly has recorded 7 saves over 16 relief appearances while striking out 42 over 31 innings pitched
* Ex-Knights (2012) ace Trevor Frank of UC Riverside has registered 6 saves over 12 relief appearances, including three saves vs. UC Irvine March 28-30, while striking out 20 in 19.2 innings and going 3-0 with a 0.46 ERA
* Ex-AppleSox (2010) star Marco Gonzales of Gonzaga is 4-2 with 2.65 ERA over 7 starts
* Ex-Elks (2012) southpaw Travis Radke (2-3, 3.48 ERA) of Portland has recorded 62 strikeouts over 41.1 innings and 7 starts