By Jim Buckley
In a year that the Foresters captured their seventh NBC World Series National Championship, a quartet of former Foresters have seen their own dreams come true. Ryan O’Hearn, Jeff McNeil, Austen Williams, and Andrew Vasquez all made their Major League Baseball debuts this season, bringing to more than 43 the number of former ’Sters who have appeared in “The Show.”
McNeil came up first, on July 24, and has become a regular in the New York Mets infield. The former Long Beach State “Dirtbag” and SB local hero (he was born here and played Goleta Valley LL and later in Nipomo) was part of the Foresters’ 2011 National Championship team. Through 41 games with the Mets, he was hitting .321 and had stolen four bases. (Watch this nice interview with Jeff on KEYT.com)
First baseman O’Hearn made his debut for the Kansas City Royals on August 1 and has been tearing up the baseball. Through September 5, he had 9 homers in only 87 at-bats (a 56-homer season pace!). Ryan won a ring with the ’Sters in 2012 and also played in 2013. Bit of trivia: Ryan is the first O’Hearn in MLB history.
Vasquez is well known in Santa Barbara as a former member of the UCSB Gauchos, Westmont Warriors, and of course the Foresters. “Lefty” pitched for the Foresters during the 2013 season and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2015. He has appeared in two games so far in his young career.
A day after Vasquez, Williams pitched for the Washington Nationals as a September call-up. Austen also pitched for the Foresters in 2013. The former Texas State player has moved quickly up the Nationals organization, mostly as a starter, so he’ll be aiming at their rotation in the spring.
Congrats to all these Foresters on their big-league debuts. We’ll keep watching, as there are lots more in the pipeline to the Show!