Baseball, Sports

Former Dirtbags participate in MLB spring training

With the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season set to begin, several Dirtbag alumni are showcasing their skills in spring training and making adjustments along the way.

The game of baseball is getting faster, as new pitch clock and defensive shift rules have been implemented to shorten game times and have done so by reducing the average time from just over three hours to two and a half hours.

The pitch clock rules give the pitcher 15 seconds in between pitches, but the batter must be in the box with eight seconds remaining on the clock.

This has resulted in disjointed timing for hitters as they are barely allowed to step out of the box and pitchers are taking advantage of this.

There are a handful of major leaguers representing Long Beach State and the Dirtbag community: Matt Duffy, Jarren Duran, Garrett Hampson, Darren McCaughan, Jeff McNeil and Brian Shaw.

Matt Duffy continues an impressive preseason hitting .379 in 29 at-bats with five runs batted in as he competes to make the opening day roster for the Kansas City Royals.

Matt Duffy has become a fan favorite utility player during his time in the majors. After playing last season with the Los Angeles Angels he is now looking to break into a new starting lineup
Matt Duffy has become a fan-favorite utility player during his time in the majors. After playing last season with the Los Angeles Angels he is now looking to break into a new starting lineup in Kansas City. Photo credit: LBSU Athletics

Jarren Duran smacked a solo home run against Oliver Ortega and the Twins before leaving the Boston Red Sox to represent Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. His sample size may be small, but hitting .500 in six at-bats and a home run is worth noticing.

Duran was drafted in 2018 and made it to the big leagues just four days before 2017 draftee Darren McCaughan. The two are the most recent Dirtbaga to make their respective MLB debuts.
Duran was drafted in 2018 and made it to the big leagues just four days before 2017 draftee Darren McCaughan. The two are the most recent Dirtbaga to make their respective MLB debuts. Photo credit: LBSU Athletics

Garrett Hampson is working to make the Miami Marlins opening day roster after spending five seasons with the Colorado Rockies. Hampson has scored three runs and stolen two bases while hitting .171 in 35 at-bats.

Hampson spent five years with the Colardao Rockies before getting non-tendered. The 2016 draftee is now looking to break camp with the Miami Marlins.
Hampson spent five years with the Colardao Rockies before getting non-tendered. The 2016 draftee is now looking to break camp with the Miami Marlins. Photo credit: LBSU Athletics

Darren McCaughan has been impressive on the mound for the Seattle Mariners this spring with two saves and six strikeouts in seven innings pitched.

Jeff McNeil, the 2022 National League Batting Champion, has been off to a slow start this season for the New York Mets with only four hits in 17 at-bats, although he has driven in four runs. McNeil represented Team USA at the WBC recording one hit and nine walks during the tournament as he and USA finished runners-up.

Bryan Shaw, a 12-year veteran, is now on his fifth MLB team with the Chicago White Sox. Shaw hasn’t allowed a run in seven innings pitched and recorded four strikeouts and two saves.

Keep an eye on these former Dirtbags this season as they adjust to the new rules and faster pace of baseball and represent the Long Beach community.

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