The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Pro Cougs tracker: baseball

Keepin’ up with the Cougs playing pro baseball
WSU Outfield Jonah Advincula runs to third base at an NCAA Baseball Game against Santa Clara April 22, 2023. Pullman, Wash.

With baseball season in full swing for the MLB and Milb, the graduated Cougs that have taken the professional leap are as well. 

Two former Cougs are playing ball in the bigs while many others classify as prospects working up the minor-league chain. And with the shipment of four new Cougars on the pro scene from last year’s squad, there is plenty to keep an eye on.

Ryan Walker – RHP, San Francisco Giants

A former 31st-round selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, Walker cracked the bigs last season at the ripe age of 27. Since debuting, he has been nothing but fantastic for the Giants registering a 3.23 earned run average with 78 strikeouts over 61.1 innings in 2023. 

So far in 2024, Walker has made his last year self look amateur at best. On the season he has a 2.35 ERA over 7.2 innings with six strikeouts. He also has a .783 walks plus hits per innings pitched and a 2.84 fielder independent pitching (a stat used to extract defense from pitcher performance).

Walker works as a reliever so his usage is scattered, but he has proven to Giants manager Bob Melvin that he is an arm worth trusting in the bullpen.

Ian Hamilton – RHP, New York Yankees

Hamilton was drafted two years before, and 20 rounds earlier than Walker, and as a result, debuted at just 23 years old in 2018. He had a few appearances over the years, struggling in 2022 before finding his groove in 2023.

He established himself as a staple of the pen in the Bronx recording a 2.64 ERA in 58 innings while ringing up 69 and registering a dominant 2.82 FIP. On the season Hamilton allowed less than .3 home runs per nine innings and struck out an average of 10.7 per game (over 10 being elite).

Like Walker, Hamilton is off to a solid start in 2024 with a 3.24 ERA in 8.1 innings with seven strikeouts and just two walks. More impressively, he has a simply wicked .600 WHIP and 2.27 FIP. So essentially, the analytics say despite a few scattered runs, Hamilton has thrown nothing but filth this season.

Kyle Manzardo – First Base, Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Guardians)

The Coug with the most hype in recent memory, Manzardo checked in at No. 54 in the MLB’s Top 100 prospect list before the season.

Since starting the season in Triple-A in the Guardians system (traded from Rays last year), he has played 10 games this season, hitting .226 with a home run and five runs batted in in 31 at-bats. 

He also has eight walks to nine strikeouts showing his vision with a .357 on-base percentage. Following a slow start, Manzardo has chained nice games together with 2-for-3 and four walk performances in his last two games in a doubleheader Friday.

Jonah Advincula – Centerfield, Lake County Captains (Cleveland Guardians)

The first of three selections in the 2023 MLB Draft, Advincula finds himself in High-A in the Guardians system and it is safe to say he is off to a hot start.

He jumped to High-A after only six rookie ball starts in 2023, skipping Low-A. So far in 2024, Advincula has a double, home run and two walks to just two strikeouts in 13 at-bats across four games.

The averages back up his hot start as well, as he is hitting .308 with a .400 on-base percentage and an on-base plus slugging of 1.015 (over 1.000 is elite). It is only four games, but so far, it seems Advincula has a bright future.

Sam Brown – First base, Rocket City Trash Pandas (Los Angeles Angels)

Brown has made it the farthest up the minor league ladder out of the 2023 draftees, but that is also a product of the organization. The Angels are known for rapid promotions (just look up Nolan Schanuel). 

Regardless, Brown has taken advantage of the opportunity to skip A ball and go straight to Double-A with the Trash Pandas as a 12th-round pick.

In 2024, Brown is 6-for-20 (.300) in six games with three walks and just three strikeouts. His OBP is sitting pretty at .417 but still searching for his first extra-base hit, the power numbers still have room to improve. 

Overall you could say he is taking a contact approach so far if you’re more into the glass-half-full approach, but regardless, it is a nice start through just six games.

Cam Magee – Third base, Augusta Greenjackets (Atlanta Braves)

The final selection in 2023, Magee heard his name called in the 18th round by the Braves and started the 2024 season in Low-A Augusta.

So far Magee has played five games, hitting .294 with three RBIs and two walks in 17 at-bats. He is still hunting his first extra-base hit but he already has his first walkoff hit.

Dakota Hawkins – RHP, Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets)

Hawkins did not hear his name called on draft night last year, but he did hear the phone ring. Since signing with the Mets organization, the 24-year-old Hawkins has yet to allow a run in 11 innings over two pro seasons.

In the three of those innings in 2024, he allowed just one hit and true to his form at WSU, struck out four. He has taken on somewhat of a long reliever role with the Mets High-A affiliate, and to this point, he has been great at it.

The pro Cougs have hit the ground running in 2024. Make sure to check back weekly to keep tabs on your favorite Cougs in their post-Palouse days.

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
Julian Caballero is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. He is a junior broadcast production major from Tacoma, Washington. Julian began working for the Daily Evergreen in fall 2022.