WCL Announces Expansion and Presents Grass Roots Award at Annual Winter Meetings

The West Coast League’s board of directors and general managers convened in Portland last weekend for the League’s highly anticipated annual winter meetings. The gathering, a blend of in-person and teleconference sessions, witnessed a significant announcement and recognition of local coaches.

On Friday, the meetings kicked off with the exciting revelation that the West Coast League will be expanding its footprint to Salem, Oregon. The league’s 17th team is slated to commence play in the 2025 season.

Saturday night was marked by a special ceremony at the Northwest Baseball Coaches Association (NWBCA) convention, where Commissioner Rob Neyer presented Randy Rutschman with the West Coast League’s prestigious Grass Roots Award. The event drew a large audience, highlighting Rutschman’s substantial contributions to the Pacific Northwest baseball community over decades.

Rutschman, a prominent figure in the Portland area, boasts a rich history in Pacific Northwest baseball, having played at Linfield and coached at George Fox University and for the Aloha Knights. A retired educator, Rutschman’s current activities involve coaching, training, and other support for underserved programs in inner-city Portland. His initiatives include donating gear to schools, mentoring coaches, and conducting clinics throughout the area.

Selected as the third recipient of the Grass Roots Award, Rutschman follows in the footsteps of esteemed figures such as Nova Newcomer, Director of Community Relations & Mariners Care Foundation for the Seattle Mariners in 2022, and coaching legend Jerry Smoot from Whatcom County, Washington, in 2021.

The winter meetings brought together the WCL’s board of directors and front-office staff from all 17 member teams, where discussions ranged from league updates to future plans. Commissioner Rob Neyer expressed enthusiasm about the league’s growth and said, “These meetings set the stage for an exciting future for the West Coast League. The expansion to Salem and the recognition of individuals like Randy Rutschman exemplify our commitment to the development and enrichment of baseball communities.”

For more information on the West Coast League and its latest developments, please refer to the full release available on the league’s official website.

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 and modern ballparks, all backdropped by the sport’s most stunning scenery. The 2019 MLB amateur draft began with former Corvallis Knight Adley Rutschman selected with the overall No. 1 pick by the Baltimore Orioles, and the 2022 draft featured two West Coast League alumni, Brooks Lee and Gabriel Hughes, among the first 10 picks.