2024 Pitchers

by Steve Mims

Alan Embree is back for his second season with the Springfield Drifters and he’s got a few familiar faces on his staff. Embree, a longtime major-leaguer with Northwest roots, has a wealth of experience in the West Coast League as coach of the Bend Elks and Cowlitz Black Bears. After serving as pitching coach last season, he was named head coach of the Drifters when Tommy Richards resigned before the season began. “This feels like when I was in Bend for a few summers and you’d walk in the building and know what ownership expects and know what you expect,” Embree said. A few of Springfield’s pitchers are comfortable at Hamlin Field after pitching for the Drifters last season.

Kaden Alberghini went 1-0 for Springfield with a 2.07 ERA last year. He struck out 25 in 21 2/3 innings over 13 relief appearances. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound right-hander just completed his sophomore year at Seattle University. “I am excited to see how much he has improved during his season and into the summer,” Embree said. “He is a big guy who throws hard so he needs to embrace how big he is and realize he’s the biggest guy on the field and that is his plate.”

Billy Dotson, a right-hander from Junction City, went 1-2 with a 7.83 ERA last summer in Springfield while pitching 33 1/3 innings. He just finished his junior year at Ottawa University in Arizona. “He is a swiss-army knife,” Embree said. “When we needed him to pitch at the end of the year, he took the ball.” Marist graduate Kaden Starr, who just completed a redshirt season at University of Portland, pitched in one game for the Drifters last year.

“I look forward to seeing him develop over the summer so he can go back to school and contribute,” Embree said.

Springfield’s roster isn’t set as they open the season The Drifters will use some guys on 10-day contracts early in the year as they wait for college players to arrive. “At the beginning of the year, it’s like spring training,” said Embree, who compiled a 39-45 record with a 4.59 ERA in 882 big-league games for nine teams from 1992-2009, including a World Series title for Boston in 2004. “You treat the first 10 days like spring training to see what guys can do. You put guys in situations to succeed and then push harder with the younger kids. The older kids, I know I can put them in higher-leverage innings and if they don’t do well, we can move them back and young kids will step in. Whoever has the hot hand at that time takes that spot.” Springfield will have a few Oregon signees including Gabe Howard of West Linn and Carter Nelson of South Salem. Chris Wrench will join the Ducks after a year at Yakima Valley College. “Kids that need to throw over the summer so Oregon can get eyes on them,” Embree said.

Another local player is Aiden Gebhard, a Redmond native who pitches for Lane Community College. Ethan Paulson and Trevor Hammond arrived from Bushnell where they played for Richards. Tyler Biddinger is from Chemeketa Community College in Salem. “It’s exciting,” Biddinger said. “It is a competitive league. The misses have to be smaller and I think you have to attack more and not leave so many pitches up, especially off-speed. I am focused on competing in the zone in the right way. This is going to be an adjustment, but it is exciting for me.” Sebastian Castro joined the staff from Chaminade while Kainoa Holt pitched for Hawaii Pacific. Tyler Manyo comes from Lubbock Christian.