Pitcher, Pair of Infielders Join 2023 Squad

New Mexico shortstop/catcher, pair of Montana State-Billings players added to roster

YAKIMA, Wash. – A trio of first-time Pippins are headed to The Orchard this summer. Second-baseman/catcher Konner Kinkade, left-handed pitcher Jackson Betancourt, and shortstop Zack Blaszak will all be reporting to Yakima late this spring. Manager Kyle Krustangel is thrilled to be bringing all three players into the Pippins family in 2023.

“Kinkade fits the kind of team we want to build,” the Pipps manager said. “Freak athlete and can run the bases extremely well, he will be a great fit.

“We’ve also had an outstanding relationship with MSUB (Montana State University-Billings) over the past 6 to 7 years, some high-quality players have come through The Orchard from MSUB, and I expect more of the same from Jackson and Zack.”

None of the trio has played in Yakima before, but Kinkade is no stranger to summer league ball. After finishing an up-and-down sophomore season at CSU Bakersfield, Kincade earned a spot with the Pulaski River Turtles of the Appalachian League. Once summer ball started, the former two-sport star at Pullman (Washington) High School hit the ground running. In 44 games played for Pulaski, Kinkade hit .278 with nine extra-base hits and 29 RBIs. He also had more walks (26) than strikeouts (21).

The Pullman native is entering his first season at the University of New Mexico, and so far, he has adjusted nicely. In his seven plate appearances for the Lobos, Kinkade is batting .571 with two doubles. Kinkade hasn’t played in his home state much at all since high school, so for him, playing in Yakima is a gratifying experience.

“It means a lot coming back to my home state to play,” Kincade said. “Over the last few years, I’ve traveled all over the country so it’s going to be really special to have my family at most of my games.”

Betancourt is another player familiar with summer ball. The San Diego native, entering his second season at MSUB, became a mainstay in the Yellowjackets pitching staff during his freshman season. He solidified himself in the rotation by starting 10 games, striking out 29 in 35.2 innings pitched.

That helped earn him a spot with the Spearfish Sasquatch of the Independent League, where the southpaw went 1-1 in three games. In his two appearances early in 2023, Betancourt has a 3.46 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings. The former Mira Mesa High School star in San Diego is looking for some extra stability on the mound this upcoming season.

“I want to refine all my mechanics and stay consistent on the mound,” Betancourt said. “If I do that, it’ll give my team its best chance to win every time I am on the mound.”

Blaszak, Betancourt’s MSUB teammate, will be joining Betancourt for a second time just this year. Entering his third collegiate season, the Park City, Utah, local played two years at Salt Lake Community College before transferring to MSUB prior to this upcoming season. He was a massive piece to the puzzle back at Salt Lake CC.

In 99 games played with the Bruins, Blaszak hit .261 with 26 extra-base hits and 52 RBIs. During that span, the Bruins had a combined record of 70-27, the college’s best two-year span since 2013. That two year span led Blaszack to joining Montana State University Billings.

The Park City High graduate seems to fit right into the fold at MSUB. In nine games so far this year, Blaszak has started eight games and is batting .250 with a home run and six RBIs. Blaszak is used to a winning culture, and he expects more of the same in Yakima.

“I believe I am going to have a lot of fun winning games with the Pippins,” Blaszak stated. “A lot of great players have come through this organization, and I’m excited to be able to put the uniform on and be a part of that.”

By Logan Peter

March 7, 2023