A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Checking in on former Bear Cubs in the MLB

Garret+Hill+pitches+against+Solano+college+on+Feb.+19+2015+at+Sypher+Field+in+Santa+Rosa.
Joseph Barkoff
Garret Hill pitches against Solano college on Feb. 19 2015 at Sypher Field in Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa Junior College Baseball has an illustrious history within the Junior College Baseball world. The Bear Cubs have won three state championships, with one as recent as 2016, and have seen countless players make their way onto MLB rosters and coaching staffs. 

Players such as hall-of-famer Willie Stargell, and 2013 World Series champion Jonny Gomes had their starts at SRJC. The following players and coaches are some of the most notable in recent years.

Garrett Hill

Hill, a 28-year-old pitcher, is in the Detroit Tigers organization. He played on the 2017 Bear Cubs team alongside Justin Bruihl. 

He pitched at San Diego State in 2018 before the Tigers drafted him in the 26th round. He debuted for the Tigers on July 4 2022.

In two big league seasons, Hill has a 5.09 ERA in 76 innings. He finished the year in the minors but will be in major league spring training in 2024.

Jason Alexander

Alexander, a 30-year-old pitcher, is a free agent and most recently pitched in the major leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2022. He pitched for the Bear Cubs in 2012 and 2013.

He also played college ball with Long Beach State and Menlo College before the Los Angeles Angels signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2017. After five years in the minor leagues, Alexander made his major debut in 2022 for the Brewers. 

In 18 games, with 11 being starts, he posted a 5.40 ERA with a 2-3 record and 46 strikeouts in 71 and ⅔ innings. Alexander spent the first half of 2023 out with a shoulder injury and spent the remainder of the year in the minors. 

Anthony Bender

Chase Stafford tosses the ball to Anthony Bender beginning the four-five-three double play against College of the Redwoods Feb. 25, 2014 at Sypher Field. (Joseph Barkoff)

Bender, a 29-year-old pitcher, has been a reliever for the Miami Marlins since 2021. He attended SRJC from 2014 to 2016 and was on the 2016 state championship team. 

The Kansas City Royals drafted Bender in the 20th round of the 2016 draft. He spent the next five years in the minor leagues, including stints in the Independent Leagues in the 2020 season. 

Bender signed a deal with the Marlins preceding the 2021 season. After an impressive spring training, he was called up to the big league club, making his debut on May 4.

He posted very impressive numbers in his rookie year, with a 2.79 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 61 and ⅓ innings out of the bullpen. He struggled with injury in 2022, pitching only 19 and ⅓ innings. 

Bender missed all of 2023 after having Tommy John Surgery and will look to return strong in 2024.

Justin Bruihl

Bruihl, a 26-year-old pitcher, is a reliever in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He pitched for the Bear Cubs in 2017, where they finished second in the state.

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Bruihl as an undrafted free agent in 2017. After five years in the minor leagues, he made his MLB debut on Aug 8 2021.

Bruihl put up impressive numbers in a small sample size in 2021, posting a 2.89 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 18 and ⅔ innings. He threw two scoreless innings in the 2021 postseason.

He had another strong year in 2022 posting a 3.80 ERA in 23 and ⅔ innings. In 2023 with the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, he posted a 5.46 ERA in 28 innings, while also spending some time in the minor leagues.

The Cincinnati Reds signed Bruihl to a contract with a spring training invite for 2024, where he will look to make the big league club.

Jake Scheiner reels in a grounder hit to shortstop March 5, 2015 at Sypher Field Santa Rosa. (Joseph Barkoff)

Jake Scheiner

Scheiner is a utility player for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. He spent six years in the Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies minor league systems. 

He played for the Bear Cubs in 2015 and 2016. He played at the University of Houston in 2017 and was drafted that same year by the Phillies. 

Brandon Hyde

Hyde is the manager of the Baltimore Orioles and the reigning AL Manager of the Year. Hyde’s Orioles won 101 games after winning 52 just two years prior. 

He played with the Bear Cubs in 1994, in addition to St. Mary’s College and Long Beach State, and spent five years in the Chicago White Sox organization.

Hyde began coaching in the Florida Marlins organization in 2005 and worked his way up to manager of the Orioles in 2019.

Former Bear Cub and Major Leaguer Jason Lane throws batting practice to the Bear Cubs on Jan. 24 2017. (Albert Gregory)

Jason Lane

Lane is the third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers and played seven big league seasons for the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres.

He played for the Bear Cubs in 1996 and 1997 and won California Junior College Northern California Player of the Year and Bay Valley Conference MVP in 1997.

Notably, Lane was an outfielder from 2002 to 2007 but made a brief comeback as a pitcher in 2014.

 

Recent Bear Cubs in the Minor Leagues

Bear Cubs pitcher Austin Ehrlicher throws a solid five innings against College of Marin on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in Santa Rosa.
(Nick Vides)

Multiple Bear Cubs in the past four years are recent draft picks who are currently in the minor leagues.

Joe Lampe is a 23-year-old outfielder who played for the Bear Cubs in 2020. He played two years at Arizona State before the Cleveland Guardians drafted him in the third round of the 2022 draft. He is currently in High-A.

Jared Sundstrom is a 22-year-old outfielder who played for the Bear Cubs in 2021 and 2022. He played a year at UC Santa Barbara before the Seattle Mariners drafted him in the 10th round of the 2023 draft. He is currently in Single-A.

Austin Ehrlicher is a 20-year-old pitcher who was a two-way player for the Bear Cubs in 2022 and 2023. The Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round of the 2022 draft, and Ehrlicher signed in 2023, utilizing the “draft and follow” rule. He missed time with an elbow injury and has not yet made an appearance in the Red Sox minor leagues. 

Non-Bear Cubs from Sonoma County in the MLB

Spencer Torkelson is a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, who drafted him number one overall in 2020. He is from Petaluma and went to Casa Grande High School.

Andrew Vaughn is a first baseman and outfielder for the Chicago White Sox, who drafted him number three overall in 2019. He is from Santa Rosa and went to Maria Carrillo High School.

Scott Alexander is a free-agent pitcher and brother of Jason Alexander. He is from Santa Rosa and went to Cardinal Newman High School and Sonoma State University. He most recently pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 2023.