SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — It could be tough for the 2018 Cal Poly baseball team to score runs Saturday afternoon.
That's because the Alumni squad will have on its roster at least seven pitchers currently on the rosters of professional baseball teams, led by Bud Norris. Norris (pictured at right) has pitched in the Major Leagues for nine seasons, most recently with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and is currently a free agent.
Minor leaguers Casey Bloomquist, Jeff Johnson and Joey Wagman along with three pitchers on last year's Mustang team who were drafted last June — Spencer Howard, Erich Uelmen and Slater Lee — will be on the mound for the Alumni squad as well. Kyle Anderson, who retired from baseball a year ago after a few seasons with the independent Winnipeg Goldeyes, also is expected to pitch Saturday.
Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger heads the list of position players on the Alumni roster. A first-round compensation A pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012, Haniger played briefly with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016 before being traded to Seattle during the offseason.
He hit .282 with 16 home runs and an .843 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) in 96 games while playing very well in the field for the Mariners in 2017. Haniger closed out the 2017 season with a hot September, including his first career five-hit game for the Mariners, and closed out the month with a .365 average (42 of 115) with eight doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 14 RBI.
Haniger played at Cal Poly from 2010-12, earning Big West Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors as a junior.
Former Major League third baseman Brent Morel, who played more recently in the Japan League, also is on the Alumni roster along with several other ex-Mustangs currently in the Minor Leagues.
Those include John Schuknecht, Chris Hoo, Peter Van Gansen, Zack Zehner and Mark Mathias. Several other former Mustangs who no longer are in the minors, such as Brett Barbier, Jimmy Allen, Elliot Stewart and Ryan Lee, have signed up to play, too.
Ex-Mustangs Michael Hoo and Bobby Crocker, among others, also are expected to play Saturday.
Picked by head coaches to finish third in the Big West this season, Cal Poly welcomes back 19 letter winners, including eight position players who made 25 or more starts in 2017, and nine pitchers, six of whom pitched 25 or more innings.
In addition, pitchers Jarred Zill and Thomas Triantos, both of whom underwent Tommy John surgery a year ago, are back and the Mustang coaching staff also has 13 newcomers to add to the mix, including two freshman infielders who likely will be in the starting lineup on Opening Day and as many as six first-year pitchers who are high on the preseason depth chart.
Coach Larry Lee's Mustangs are coming off a momentum-building end to the 2017 campaign, overcoming a 2-9 start by capturing seven of eight Big West series en route to a second-place conference finish and 28-28 overall record.
Saturday's game inside remodeled Baggett Stadium starts at 1 p.m. and admission is free.
Inaugural First-Pitch Banquet will follow the game at 6 p.m. inside the Recreation Center's Multi-Activity Center on campus.
Haniger, Norris and former Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer will be the guest speakers for the event. Schafer currently is a free agent after playing 318 games over six years in the Majors, mostly with Milwaukee.
Catering will be by the Baggett Stadium BBQ crew and an auction will be held following dinner. Costs for the banquet are $50 for adults and $25 for children under 12. For tickets, click here.
Auction items include Bud Norris and Mitch Haniger packages, a Dignity Health Baseball Clubhouse package and a San Francisco Giants package.
The Mustangs officially open their 2018 season next Friday against Gonzaga in the first of four games to be played in the Surprise Tournament at the spring training complex of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. The Mustangs also will play New Mexico on Feb. 17, Oregon State on Feb. 18 and Gonzaga again on Feb. 19 in Surprise, Ariz.