For most kids growing up playing baseball in Little League, stick ball in the street or just in any old sandlot or open piece of ground, it’s “the Dream.” Someday they’ll play this game in the Major Leagues and hit the home run or record the final out to win the World Series! And the crowd goes wild!
The reality almost always turns out quite differently but who are we to squash these dreams? Seven former Ducks are still living that dream in 2023 and with one exception holding down a current roster spot in Major League Baseball.
Garrett Cleavinger is the one former Duck whose dream is postponed. Cleavinger plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, baseball’s best team so far this season at 52 - 26. He is a left-handed relief pitcher who suffered a likely season-ending knee injury in an early May, 2023 game against the Yankees. Prior to the injury, Cleavinger had pitched in 15 games and compiled a 3.00 Earned Run Average with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. Cleavinger had been traded to the Rays late in the 2022 season, and he appeared in 13 games that season with a 2.41 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.
Tyler Anderson is a left-handed starting pitcher. He has started 13 games and gone 4 - 1 for the Los Angeles Angels this season. Anderson has worked 68.2 innings, given up 78 hits and 45 runs with 8 homers. He has walked 31 batters and struck out 51. His ERA is 5.64, and his WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched) is 1.59.
Cole Irvin is a starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. He is 1-3 this season in 5 starts with a 7.74 ERA and a WHIP of 1.76. He’s pitched 23.1 innings and given up 31 hits and 20 runs with 10 walks and 24 strikeouts. Opponent BA of .316.
Scott McGough is a right-handed relief pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. McGough is 0-5 and has 5 saves in 39 games this season. He has pitched 39.2 innings and given up 19 hits and 13 runs, including 5 homers. He has struck out 47 and walked 12. Opponents are batting just .140 against him.
Ryne Nelson joins McGough on the Diamondbacks, where he is a right-handed starting pitcher. Nelson is 3-4 on the season with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. He has struck out 52 while walking 26 and given up 90 hits and 46 runs in 76.1 innings. He has earned 15 starts in 2023.
Spencer Steer has settled into the starting lineup for the Cincinnati Reds. Primarily a first baseman, Steer has served as something of a Swiss Army Knife for the Reds, playing games at third base (the position listed on the Reds official roster) and in Left Field. He has also played as the team’s designated hitter in games against American League opponents and as a pinch hitter. He is hitting .273 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs where he is tied for 42nd best in MLB. He’s also drawn 31 walks and been hit by pitches 5 times for a .356 on-base percentage. He also sports a .468 slugging percentage and has 7 stolen bases.
Although in his 4th year in the organization, Jonny DeLuca is a Rookie outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was called up to the Show on June 4 and has played regularly since June 7. He has played all three outfield positions and made just a single error. DeLuca is still adjusting to the Bigs, hitting just .190 and he has yet to hit a home run or record an RBI. He has just 21 at-bats on the season thus far, four hits, one walk, and 4 strikeouts.
Getting to the Show is not only a goal for players, but for programs as well. The Ducks have a number of players trying to work their way up the ladder from the Minors to the Big Leagues and we hope to see many more of them in future seasons.