2024 Season Preview

by Steve Mims

The Springfield Drifters will seek to continue rising in the West Coast League standings during their third summer at Hamlin Field. The Drifters won 10 of their final 19 games last year to finish 22-31, a five-game improvement over their inaugural year. Alan Embree, who served as pitching coach last season, will serve as head coach this summer. Springfield has a list of players who will start the season on a 10-day contract as it waits for other players to arrive. “It is easy to say and harder to do, creating a culture and good balance with some guys here early and then the full-season contract guys sticking around for the rest of the year,” said Tommy Richards, who coached the Drifters during the past two seasons and helped recruit this year’s roster along with Embree. 

The staff put together a roster that features a few returnees with a host of newcomers, including more than a dozen players with ties to local high schools and colleges. “We talk about getting guys to stick around to play for their hometown team so when they are already home, the desire to leave and go home is not as prominent and that is a good thing to have,” Richards said. “I think we have done a good job harvesting relationships so that kids stay around longer and are less likely to dip out. That is probably the main thing, improved communication and making sure the guys share that.” Outfield Rex DeAngelis is back after hitting .320 in nine games for Springfield last season while catcher Dane Woodcook played in two games last year. Outfielder Gage Bruce batted .275 in 24 games while infielder Cooper Mullens returns after hitting .203 with 18 runs scored in 36 games. The pitching staff returns Kaleb Alberghini of Seattle University, who had 25 strikeouts and a 2.07 ERA in 13 appearances. Junction City native Billy Dotson pitched in 12 games last year for Springfield. Newcomers on the pitching staff include University of Oregon signees Gabe Howard of West Linn and Carter Nelson of South Salem along with Montana native Chris Wrench, who spent the spring at Yakima Valley College. Tyler Biddinger arrives from Chemeketa Community College in Salem while Sebastian Castro is from Chaminade. Billy Dotson, a Junction City grad, pitches at Ottawa College in Arizona while Kainoa Holt comes from Hawaii Pacific. 

Kaden Starr is a Marist grad who redshirted at University of Portland last year while Aiden Gebhard pitched for Lane Community College. Trevor Hammond and Ethan Paulson pitch for Richards at Bushnell. Tyler Manyo joins the team from Lubbock Christian. Woodcook is joined at catcher by Kooper Jones of Washington State and Ian Wolski from Hawaii Pacific. Burke Mabeus has signed to play at Oregon. Smith Chandler of Cal State Northridge joins the Drifters in the infield along with Jackson Peper of Chaminade. Brandon Stinnett and Mike Tsoukalas of Seattle University are in the infield with Kadren Wainkea Kinzie of Hawaii. Jace Hampson and Kayle Pisano are Oregon signees in the infield. The outfield features Sheldon graduate Nolan Miller, who is headed to University of Portland, and Leo Reeves of South Eugene, who is off to University of Oregon.

Dylan Osborne, a two-way player who may also pitch, and Grady Woodward play for University of Washington while Ayden Lobetos arrives from Chaminade. Ely Kennell plays for Washington State while Ryder Dykstra is from USC. Andrew Guana is an outfielder from Cal State Northridge while Garrett Cooper comes from Lower Columbia College.