Pippins Add Two Big Bats From Arizona
YAKIMA, Wash. – When infielder Jacob Berry and outfielder Kyle Casper take the field for the Pippins this summer, they’ll be part of what Yakima Valley manager Kyle Krustangel says will be the most elite season the West Coast League has ever seen.
“I think the summer ball leagues have never been as good as they’re going to be this summer. In terms of talent, you’re going to have extra guys because of the draft [being shortened] and because of seniors coming into the league that’s going to make for just an elite summer ball experience,” Krustangel said. He added that the circumstances around the season will make for a rare consistency among the rosters since players won’t have to wait for their respective season to end before joining their summer team.
Both Berry and Casper are University of Arizona commits who come highly touted by Perfect Game. Both men participated in the 2019 Perfect Game National Showcase, were given a 9.5/10 grade by the organization and were named to their respective 2020 Preseason All-Region teams (Berry for the West region and Casper for the California region).
Berry was part of a Queen Creek High School team in Arizona that started its 2020 season with eight straight wins before the season was interrupted. In 2019, he led the Bulldogs in almost every offensive category with a .441 batting average, eight doubles and four home runs.
“I think he has the athleticism to play third base in the West Coast League, and I think he’d be a plus-plus athlete over at first,” Krustangel said. He also commented on Berry’s offensive prowess and power, with his exit velocity reaching 98 mph at times. “Obviously with our short-porches down the line at The Orchard, he should be running some balls out to both sides of the yard.”
Casper was also a top performer for Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California, last season, amassing 18 RBI, 31 runs scored, seven doubles and a pair of long balls over 32 games. One of the quickest prospects in the class of 2020 according to Perfect Game, Casper also swiped 21 bases last year.
“What makes him stand out is not only is he a toolsy outfielder, but he is very offensive. That’s the reason you go from an average prospect in the country to a top prospect, when you have a lot of tools in play at once,” Krustangel said. “We like to run. When we look at guys to bring in, when you get a guy like Casper it’s a no-brainer because we want that kid to swipe 15-25 bases throughout the summer.”