Yaks’ Matt Driver had two stints with team in 2017
YAKIMA, Wash. – Yakima Valley’s Pippins are adding another familiar face to the 2018 roster.
Pitcher Matt Driver, a 6-foot-2 sophomore right-hander, was on the 2017 squad to start and end the season with a pair of 10-day contracts. This year, the Kennewick native has been signed to a full-season contract.
Also joining the Pippins is YVC teammate Easton Henke, a 6-3 sophomore right-hander from Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, and Bellevue College sophomore infielder Grant DeLappe from Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Wash.
“The NWAC (Northwest Athletic Conference) consistently produces and develops quality players who move on to Division 1, NAIA, and professional baseball year in and year out,” Pippins manager Marcus McKimmy said.
Driver, pitched 8.2 innings in six appearances for the Pippins last summer, finishing 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA. But he’s been impressive for the Yaks so far this spring: He’s 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings. In his past two appearances, Driver has struck out 18 batters in 9 innings, picking up a victory against Centralia CC on March 11, his most recent appearance.
“I’ve seen Matt’s fastball up to 90-91 this year, but what impresses me most is that he’s learning how to take full control of games from the rubber,” McKimmy said. “He is in great shape and mentally ready for the rigors of the WCL schedule.”
Henke has struck out seven and walked five in 8.1 innings so far this season, coming out of the bullpen in two of the three games in which he’s seen action. He’s 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
“I’ve had my eye on Easton for some time. He will pitch out of the bullpen for us, and will have a valuable role in the middle to late innings when the game is on the line,” McKimmy said. “Easton is a quality YVC pitcher, with experience, who has earned the opportunity to put on the Pippin green. I am pumped to have him.”
DeLappe, who will attend Washington State University in the fall, is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound middle infielder for the Bulldogs and is hitting .194 in 13 games so far this spring. In 2017, DeLappe batted .300 with 12 doubles, six triples and seven home runs for Bellevue.
“He can really hit and play defense – though he’s gotten off to a slow start at the plate this year,” McKimmy said. “I like the energy he plays the game with, which for a shortstop on our team is essential. He can be a field general and solidify our defense in the middle of the diamond. WSU got a real good player here.”
The Pippins host Walla Walla on June 1 in both teams’ season opener. Tickets for opening night, presented by Legends Hotel and Casino, are currently available for purchase at Hunky Shaw’s Team Shop, 12 S. Second St. in the historic Larson Building in downtown Yakima, by calling 509-575-4487 or at pippinsbaseball.com.