Pippins Add Three More Pitchers, Infielder to Roster

YAKIMA, Wash. – Yakima County Stadium will play host to a pair of underclassmen pitchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, for the first time this summer, as well as two players from the University of Oregon.

The Gauchos will be represented by left-handed freshman Michael Splaine and right-handed sophomore Michael Rice. The Ducks will send right-handed pitcher Jake Geis and infielder Aiden Van Rensum.

“I’m excited to bring on a new school, a school that I haven’t had a chance to ever sign guys from,” Pippins head coach Kyle Krustangel said about UCSB. “Especially to bring in a couple pitchers. Pitching is a premium in this league, and these are two guys who come highly regarded from their college coach. I’m excited to build that relationship with a school that hasn’t sent a ton of guys up here but has a ton of talent.”

Splaine features a fastball in the high 80s that has touched 90, and was ranked the sixth-best left-hander out of California in the Class of 2021 by Perfect Game. The 5-10, 180-pounder from Los Gatos was also ranked the No. 75 prospect in the state by PG and was a three-sport athlete in high school.

After sitting out his freshman year, Rice is poised to see action this season with the Gauchos. He entered in the fifth inning of UCSB’s game on Sunday at the University of San Francisco, stranding a pair and striking out four batters over two more innings to earn his first collegiate win.

Rice, a 6-2, 185-pounder from Las Vegas, was ranked the third-best right-hander and fifth overall prospect from Nevada in the class of 2020 by Perfect Game.

“I’m definitely looking to keep building my relationship with Coach Was (Mark Wasikowski),” Krustangel said. “I had a good relationship with him when I was at Wenatchee and he was at Portland, and obviously last year with (current Oregon Duck) Taylor Holder and Sam Olsson, two guys who played a lot for us especially down the stretch and into the postseason.”

Geis was ranked the 15th right-hander in the class of 2021 coming out of California by Perfect Game. A graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, the 6-foot-4 Geis boasts a four-pitch mix with a fastball in the high-80s.

Van Rensum is considered one of the top infielders to graduate from a Washington state high school in 2021. The Archbishop Murphy High School product from Marysville boasts a powerful bat while staying disciplined at the plate, striking out just two times in his last full campaign as a sophomore in 2018-19.

The Pippins begin their eighth WCL season at Yakima County Stadium on June 3 with a rematch of the 2021 West Coast League Championship Series against Corvallis. Tickets for all six fireworks nights, including Opening Night, Fan Appreciation Night, Celebrate America Night and Military Appreciation Night, are available at PippinsTickets.com.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

March 4, 2022