Baseball America’s College Preview issue hit the streets last week and its retro cover shot featured former Klamath Falls Gems pitcher Thomas Eshelman of Cal State Fullerton. This is the second WCL alum to recently don a Baseball America cover, the other being former Wenatchee AppleSox Marco Gonzales of Gonzaga with the St. Louis Cardinals (January 30, 2015; issue no. 150101).
Eshelman pitched in Klamath in 2012 prior to his freshman season. He is now a junior and one of three WCL alums that were named to Baseball America’s all-america teams.
His 2012 summer teammate senior Austin Byler of University of Nevada-Reno earned first-team honors while former Wenatchee AppleSox hurler James Kaprielian of UCLA was a second-team all-america selection. Eshelman was named to the third team.
Byler led the ’12 Gems in home runs with 8 and batting with a .325 average. Eshelman went 5-0 with 3 saves while posting a 0.61 ERA while striking out 35 over 29.1 innings pitched for Klamath. Both were All-WCL selections.
Last spring, Byler hit .326 with 14 home runs and 47 RBI for the Wolfpack while Eshelman went 8-3 with a 1.89 ERA for the Titans.
Kaprielian pitched for the 2012 WCL champion Wenatchee AppleSox prior to his frosh spring at UCLA. James made 9 appearances and struck out 20 over 15 innings pitched while registering 2 saves and posting a 1.80 ERA. Last spring as a sophomore, Kaprielian went 7-6 with a 2.29 ERA while striking out 108 over 106 innings pitched for the Bruins.
Baseball America’s projected Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the Pac-12 were all WCL alums.
Shaun Chase of Oregon was named pre-season Pac-12 Player of the Year. Chase, a senior, led the Pac-12 in homers last spring and played for the Bend Elks in 2012. Kaprielian was named Pitcher of the Year, and the West Coast League’s top 2014 prospect Medford Rogues southpaw David Peterson of Oregon was named Freshman of the Year.
WCL alums were also well represented in BA’s top Pac-12 draft prospects lists. Kaprielian was rated the #1 prospect for the 2015 June draft. Pitcher Cody Poteet of UCLA (Walla Walla, 2013) was rated #10, southpaw Cole Irvin of Oregon (Cowlitz, 2012) #13, outfielder Ty Moore of UCLA (Wenatchee, 2012) #17 and catcher Chase #19.
Shortstop Colby Woodmansee of Arizona State (Bellingham, 2014) was rated the #4 prospect for the 2016 draft. Southpaw Hunter Virant of UCLA (Walla Walla, 2012) was rated #8 and outfielder Kort Peterson of UCLA (Cowlitz, 2014) #10.