Four More Pitchers Expected to Toe the Rubber in 2023

Pippins add three right-handers and return a part-time southpaw this season

YAKIMA, Wash. – Four more hurlers are heading to Yakima for the 2023 West Coast League season, Pippins manager Kyle Krustangel said.

Left-hander Carson Judd of Yakima Valley College and right-handers Andy Evans (Montana State University-Billings), former YVC pitcher Jaydon Tomas (Simpson) and CJ Colyer of Pacific University, who can play multiple spots, will join the roster. Judd donned the Pippins uniform for a handful of games in 2022.

Krustangel speaks highly of the group, reiterating the importance of having a plethora of arms at the team’s disposal for a packed baseball schedule that spans about nine and a half weeks.

“All my six years of coaching in the WCL, I have never had too much pitching on my roster,” Krustangel said. “All of these guys can pitch in a multitude of different scenarios. Carson and Jaydon have experience getting outs in this league already, and have done so successfully. The ultimate sign of respect for a pitcher is to be trusted in any situation. All these guys have that capability of being in an important spot for us at some point this summer.”

Judd is no stranger to Yakima. He appeared in two WCL games and a nonleague game with the Pippins last season, but most of that familiarity comes from college ball. The southpaw had an excellent 2022 campaign with YVC, compiling a 4-1 record and 35 strikeouts in 36.2 innings and 10 appearances.

The Spokane, Washington, homegrown is one of the bell cows for Yakima Valley so far this season. Through five appearances, Judd has 28 strikeouts and a 3.28 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched. The strikeouts and innings both lead the Yaks.

Growing up in Washington, Judd admired players who had the opportunity that’s now in front of him. He wants to make sure that the families coming to see him leave the stadium with the same feeling he had so many times before.

“As a kid, I remember looking up to the players,” Judd said. “It’s so special now being able to be one of those guys and have a positive impact on those kids’ lives.”

Evans is a sophomore at MSUB who previously pitched at Spokane Falls CC. The righty was 3-1 in 11 appearances at Spokane, striking out 41 in 39.1 innings.

Through five starts for the Yellowjackets, Evans has 13 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. Evans is one of three MSUB players headed to Yakima this summer, joining left-hander Jackson Betancourt and shortstop Zack Blaszak.

The Meridian, Idaho, native is constantly working to improve his game on the mound, but is looking to add a little bit more into his mix of pitches this season.

“I’m hoping to increase my velocity as well as my overall command,” Evans said. “I also want to develop more of a hard slider, or maybe even a cutter to add to my pitching arsenal.”

Tomas has never played for the Pippins, but has plenty of experience in Yakima, pitching the past two seasons at YVC before transferring to Simpson. In 2021, Tomas struck out 37 in 36.2 innings while compiling a 2-1 record and a 2.45 ERA.

He then followed that up with an encore performance in 2022. The Pearl City, Hawaii, native threw 59.1 innings for the Yaks, striking out 44 and earning a 4-1 record. He, along with former (and future) teammate Judd, helped the Yaks to a 31-18 record and a playoff berth.

This year, Tomas has tossed 30.1 innings, second-most on the Simpson RedHawks roster, and has struck out 23. Although the right-hander only recently left Yakima, he can’t help but be thrilled to see some familiar faces again.

“It’s kind of like going home for me,” Tomas said. “I was in Yakima for three years and made a lot of good memories with my teammates. I’m also excited to be playing for Coach Krusty (Kyle Krustangel) again.”

Colyer can do it on the mound and at the plate. So far this season with the Pacific University Boxers, it’s been all hitting and all raking. Colyer has yet to make an appearance on the mound at Pacific, but his bat has done all the talking.

Colyer is batting a whopping .438 so far this season, and has nine home runs and 29 RBI, both of which lead the team. His 1.352 OPS is 300-plus points higher than anyone else on the roster. He also is no slouch on the basepaths — Colyer has five stolen bases on six attempts this season.

The Gilroy, California, local doesn’t seem to replicate any set player’s style of play on the field, but there is one major leaguer who he tries to learn from when it comes to personality and work off the diamond.

“I try to model myself after Mike Trout,” Colyer said. “I try to mimic my work ethic and hustle after him. I love how humble and poised he is, even after knowing he is one of the best players to ever play the game.”

By Logan Peter

March 28, 2023