Just a few years ago, the total number of Oregon baseball alumni who have reached the major leagues since the program’s restart was barely enough to compile a stadium. Fast forward to 2022, and you would have made a total of nine starts among the Ducks who played Major League Baseball last season.
When Tyler Anderson made his MLB debut in June 2016, he and Scott McGough were the only UO alumni since 2009 to host “The Show.” But when this duo returned to Eugene this past weekend for the program’s alumni meet-up, they were among several other major leaguers.
Of the nine Ducks who played MLB ball in 2022, five returned for alumni this weekend — Anderson, David Peterson, Jarrett Clevinger, Jake Reed, and Reyn Nelson. Nelson was the newest addition to the club, making his debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 5, three days after Spencer Steer broke ground with the Cincinnati Reds.
“Every time it happens, that first appearance is something special for the brotherhood of the duck, because he’s really young so far,” Reed said. “And so each one means a lot right now; we’re not Vanderbilt or USC, where there are hundreds and hundreds. We have a small group and it’s really cool to see that continue to grow.”
The Ducks brothers are growing to the point where they are beginning to overlap at the big league level. When Reed broke out for the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2021, he was teammates with Cleavinger and former UO reliever Jimmie Sherfy. Peterson is a teammate of the New York Mets with Stephen Nogosek, and Anderson was drafted for the Dodgers in 2022 along with both Reid and Clevinger.
Anderson recently signed a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels, where he will likely face fellow UO Alum and freshman AL West rival Cole Irvin of the Oakland Athletics at some point. On September 12 of last season, when Nelson made his second career start with Arizona, Anderson was the opposing pitcher for the Dodgers.
“You see a lot more players in the league who were Ducks,” said Anderson, the second UO team since the restart to reach the big leagues, after McGough did so in 2015. Program – Recruit really good players, then develop great players. What you learn here, you can take to the next level. “
Anderson started a game in the NL Division Series for the Dodgers in October, and threw five scoreless innings. Peterson appeared twice in the NL Wild Card Series for the Mets, and Cleavinger had two scoreless postseason appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays.
If guys like McGough, Anderson, and Ryon Healy pioneered Oregon baseball on their way to the big leagues, Cleavinger was in the next generation, with the likes of Kyle Garlick, Peterson, and Reed. Last season they celebrated the arrival of the next wave, at Steer and Nelson.
“Even the guys I didn’t play with here in Oregon, you see them make it to the big leagues and you feel proud because that’s where we all came from,” Clevinger said Saturday while watching the home derby game. As part of PK Park’s alumni weekend. “It’s great to be able to come back here and kind of reconnect with everyone.”
Nelson participated in Alumni Weekend for the first time as an active senior, having made three starts for the Diamondbacks in September. He was a freshman at Oregon State in 2017, when Peterson was an All-American and was a first-round pick by the Mets.
“I had to watch him go through the whole process of having an incredible year,” said Nelson. “Being a first-round draft pick, all of that. Seeing things like that, it can just motivate you. The work that he did alongside, what he (then pitching coach Jason Dietrich) did and try to apply that to my career and follow those steps — Because it’s not a bad plan.”
It wasn’t that long ago that a Ducks player had to look really hard to find an alum on the program as a role model at the MLB level. Now the ranks are expanding, and should continue in future years as the 2021 second-round draft pick Aaron Zavala2022 second-round pick Josh Kacevic And further progression up the ladder towards “supply”.
“A lot of us in my years looked up to Anderson, and Hillys, and our goal was to keep that going,” Peterson said. “It was so much fun to see the guys in front of me get up there, and now it’s so much fun to see those guys behind us start to show up.
“Obviously, we want to win a World Series at the college level, and be in the postseason every year. But also once you’re gone, you’ll be able to come back and talk to the guys who made it about their experience, and they really have that brotherhood of men in professional baseball.” Yes, it’s fun.”