YAKIMA, Wash. – Pitcher Cullen Kafka, who experienced moderate success with the Pippins in 2017, is returning to Yakima Valley again next summer.
The 6-foot-4, 202-pound right-hander from Walnut Creek, Calif., pitched in five games and started three for the Pippins last summer before being shut down with shoulder soreness. The University of Oregon freshman had a 1-2 record with a 4.35 ERA in 20.2 innings, striking out 16 and walking nine. Only 10 of the 21 runs Kafka allowed last summer were earned.
“We were just scratching the surface of Cullen’s summer development when he got shut down,” Pippins manager Marcus McKimmy said. “He had some good starts for us last summer – his last start was a win against Bend. His ERA was pretty good even though we lost some games for him, one earned run in a loss at Kelowna, one earned run at Gresham in a loss.”
McKimmy is pleased with Kafka’s 2017 effort and that earned him a return trip to Yakima.
“We love his character and personality, and we anticipate that he’ll turn a corner in his development next summer,” the manager said. “Coming from a big-time Pac-12 school, he’ll be more seasoned and more mature, and ready to go through the rigors of a West Coast League summer.”
What role Kafka fills next summer will depend on him, McKimmy said.
“It’s going to depend on his physical maturity,” McKimmy said. “He came in last year throwing a lot of innings where we wanted to use him more in a relief and long-relief role at times, and he was forced to start. He can do both. It’s going to depend on his physical conditioning and where his arm care is at come June.”
The Pippins’ fifth anniversary season in Yakima begins in June 2018. Season tickets for the team’s 32-game home schedule are currently available for purchase at Hunky Shaw’s Team Shop, 12 S. Second St. in the historic Larson Building in downtown Yakima, at the Pippins’ new holiday kiosk in the Valley Mall, by calling 509-575-4487 or online at pippinsbaseball.com. The Pippins’ 2018 schedule will be announced soon, with mini-plans and other ticketing options available at that time.