PRO COUGS TRACKER: Former WSU pitcher debuts with Giants; Gueye, Powell committed to NBA Draft

Pro Cougs Tracker June 8, 2023



Senior right-handed pitcher Ryan Walker winds up to throw a pitch against USC on Friday at Bailey-Brayton Field.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

Another pro Coug made it to the big leagues, Elyse Bennett is back to scoring goals in Washington and Mohammed Gueye and Justin Powell are committed to the NBA Draft.


Senior right-handed pitcher Ryan Walker winds up to throw the ball to a California hitter April 14, 2018 at Bailey-Brayton Field.

Ryan Walker, who played four seasons at WSU (2015–18) while earning his criminal justice degree, made his major league debut with the San Francisco Giants, May 21 at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

WSU and Daily Evergreen alumna Janie McCauley, who covers the Giants, Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors for AP, was on hand for the pro Cougs’ major league debut and took this video of Walker recounting the moment he learned he was headed for the major leagues.

Walker said his minor league manager called him into the bullpen and told him he was not pitching for that day.

‘Hey you’re red today, you’re not going to throw, is that okay with you?’ Walker said they told him. After a few seconds, Walker’s manager told him he was getting the big-league call to San Francisco to which he replied:

“I’m good with that, that sounds great,” he said.

Walker made his major league debut May 21 against Miami, in which he allowed three hits but no runs in one inning of work and earned the win to start his career 1-0.

Walker did not allow a run during his first four career appearances but allowed two runs May 31 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In seven career appearances through 8.2 innings, he has allowed just one earned run, good for a 1.04 ERA and 0.81 WHIP and is 2-0 with 10 strikeouts to one walk.

Walker’s unique “crossfire” delivery has attracted the attention of Twitter’s baseball enthusiasts.

Freshman Ian Hamilton throws a pitching during a home game against San Jose State, March 27, 2014.

Ian Hamilton remains on the New York Yankees’ injured list, interrupting a career-best year for the pro Coug.

Hamilton, who earned All-Pac-12 honors in back-to-back seasons at WSU in 2014 and 2015, finally found his grove in the majors after brief stints with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. 

In his first year in the Bronx, the 27-year-old right-handed pitcher has struck out a single season career-high 30 hitters and maintained a career-best 1.23 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

Junior first baseman Kyle Manzardo, pictured here, was the final pick in the second round of the MLB draft.

The Tampa Bay Rays are by most accounts the best team in baseball with a 44-19 record entering Wednesday, sitting atop the highly competitive AL East division.

Up the coast in Durham, North Carolina, lies the Rays’ Triple-A minor league affiliate, the Durham Bulls, and among the Bulls is a pro Coug looking to make his mark in the major leagues.

However, a recent slump and the Rays’ dominant rise means that Manzardo may not make it to Tampa in the foreseeable future.

Manzardo is slashing .243/.346/.449 with 28 strikeouts to 18 walks over his last 30 games as of Wednesday. He has also hit just three home runs in that stretch.

With the Rays’ major league first baseman Yandy Díaz compiling an All-Star-worthy season, the path to the majors for Manzardo has some length to it.

However, a slump does not mean that Durham is not starved of Manzardo-mania.

The pro Coug from Couer d’Alene, Idaho, who was drafted 63rd overall in the 2021 MLB Draft by the Rays out of WSU had a four-hit game May 30 which included two singles and two doubles.

He also hit two home runs in the same inning, May 18.


WSU forward Elyse Bennett (13) prepares to recieve a throw-in from a teammate during an NCAA Tournament match against the University of Montana at Lower Soccer Field, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Pullman.

Elyse Bennett scored her first goal with the OL Reign May 27 in front of the home Seattle crowd. The pro Coug was drafted seventh overall in the 2022 NWSL Draft by the Kansas City Current and was traded to the OL Reign in Seattle prior to the 2023 season.


WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye jumps for a dunk during an NCAA basketball game against UW, Feb. 11, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Mouhamed Gueye put together another All-Pac-12 season with 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game with a 48% field goal percentage. He was 70th in the country in rebounds per game.

“It’s always been his plan,” said head coach Kyle Smith in a article.”[Gueye and his associates] felt confident after his workout feedback that he’ll get a pretty good deal with years and money. They’re comfortably somewhere in that 30-40 range. That would be awesome.”

There are 58 picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Current projections show Gueye as a late second-round pick or being signed as an undrafted free agent.

Smith attended Gueye’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago to show his support and advocate to NBA scouts Gueye’s high character and dedication.

WSU guard Justin Powell shoos a 3-pointer during an NCAA basketball game against Oregon State, Feb. 16, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Justin Powell announced he is staying in the NBA Draft, May 31. Powell averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in his junior year. WSU was his third college in as many years.

Smith showed up to Powell’s NBA Draft Combine as well.

The NBA Draft will occur June 22 in Chicago.

Keep your eyes on the Evergreen throughout the summer for more Pro Cougs news and highlights from the MLB, NWSL, NBA, NFL and more!