CORVALLIS, Ore -- The West Coast League, the summer wood bat league in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, will reintroduce tonight its all-star game after a three year hiatus. And the Major Leagues are paying attention. Twenty-one MLB clubs are here tonight to watch pro prospects from UCLA, Gonzaga, Cal Poly, Oregon, Nevada, LSU and even some community colleges.
Mike Thurman, a scout for the NY Yankees, told me tonight that a number of the players on the field tonight are 2-3 years away from the Bigs. The Yankees have one all-star, Spencer O'Neil (Oregon), under control. He was drafted in the 33rd round this year but is committed to Oregon.
"What we're looking for here tonight are tools and bodies," Thurman said. "There is not as much urgency here in this league as there is in the Cape League. The Cape tends to be more Juniors and this league tends to be more freshmen and sophomores."
But the WCL is becoming a must-see.
Bill Harper, a long-time scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, signed Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. In fact, Sandberg insisted that Harper join him in Cooperstown for his induction ceremony.
Harper believes Jace Fry (Oregon State), a LHP for the Corvallis Knight will be a Major League pitcher.
"He has strength in his arm. Mount presence. Handles both adversity and success," he said.
Harper tried to retire, but the Phillies didn't want him to. They said to stay close to home but three days after that he got a call from GM Dallas Green asking him to "jump in the car and get over to Great Falls, Montana, to see a pitcher."
The driving distances out here are much further than on the Cape. But, just like on the Cape, scouts are always looking for the a pot of gold at the end of the road.