Wolverines compete in major league baseball

Wolverines compete in major league baseball

Illustration by Alexa Druyanoff

In the last decade, the school has built a reputation of excellence in baseball, winning multiple championships, including the Mission League in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018, and the CIF-SS championship in 2013. Many of those players have now gone on to play in the MLB.

The most recent standout player was outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong ’20, who was drafted 19th overall in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft by the New York Mets. Crow-Armstrong said he  credits much of his success to the school’s baseball program. 

 “Every player gets to decide what they want their path and future to look like,” Crow-Armstrong said. “They control the outcome, but it’s tough to do that alone. At Harvard-Westlake, you have top coaching and everything you can ever hope for. I attribute much of my success to being at Harvard-Westlake. I set myself up well, but I don’t think it would have turned out like this if I hadn’t gone to Harvard-Westlake.”

Crow-Armstrong had previously committed to Vanderbilt University, but as a top selection in the draft, he decided to go straight to the MLB. In his junior year, Crow-Armstrong had a .426 batting average and hit five triples and three home runs. Although his senior season was cut short due to the pandemic, Crow-Armstrong batted .514 in 10 games for the Wolverines.

The MLB season was also cut short in 2020, with teams playing only 60 games. Like all young players, Crow-Armstrong expected to debut in the minor leagues, but this was delayed when the all minor league games to be canceled  for the remainder of the season. Crow-Armstrong was not the first Wolverine to make it to the MLB. 

Between the years of 2010 and 2012, the school had three pitchers on the team—Max Fried ’12, Lucas Giolito ’12 and Jack Flaherty ’14—make it to the MLB. All three of these players were coached by the school’s pitching coach, Ethan Katz, who is now the assistant pitching coach for the San Francisco Giants. 

Crow-Armstrong shared the benefits of his interactions with other MLB players from the school and how they have guided him through his MLB process.

“I had conversations with them before the draft,” Crow-Armstrong said. “They helped a lot. The times they reach out are times you remember, and you apply their advice to your on and off the field work. Max, Lucas and Jack have been very generous with their time to me.

Flaherty pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent four years playing at the school before being drafted 34th overall in the firstround of the 2014 draft. Flaherty’s win-loss record is 23-22, and he has a 3.37 career ERA. Flaherty was named to the 2019 All-MLB Second Team. 

Giolito currently pitches for the Chicago White Sox. He verbally committed to the University of California, Los Angeles, but then decided to skip college and go straight to the MLB, where he was drafted in the first round by the Washington Nationals. 

In the beginning of his career with the Nationals, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair an injury that occured during his senior year at school. Tommy John surgery is a common procedure for pitchers where a ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from somewhere else in the patient’s body. In 2019, Giolito was selected to the American League All-Star team, where he pitched a scoreless inning. This year, he threw a no-hitter and struck out 13 batters Aug. 25. He became the first player in White Sox history to throw a no-hitter with more than 10 strikeouts. 

Max Fried is a left-handed pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Similarly to Giolito, Fried committed to UCLA before choosing to go pro and was drafted by the San Diego Padres with the seventh pick of the first round. 

In 2014, he was ranked the Padres’ top pitching rising star and their number two overall prospect. Fried missed most of the 2014 and all of the 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves, briefly skipping AAA. In the 2020 season, he became the first left-handed starting pitcher since Babe Ruth to not allow any home runs for eight games.

As Crow-Armstrong said, it seems that a large part of these players’ success is a testament to their hard work, talent and the school’s baseball program.

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