A Forever Pioneer: MLB Pro Stays Rooted In The East Bay

Jared Darling, Sports Photographer

California State University, East Bay alum and professional baseball pitcher Alex Vesia has made a name for himself at a record pace. 

The famed Pioneer pitched for CSUEB from 2015 to 2018, turning in four exceptional seasons for his baseball team. Throughout his collegiate baseball career, Vesia had an impressive 3.45 earned run average, racking up 16 wins, 15 losses, and 167 strikeouts across 41 games during the first three seasons of his East Bay tenure. Vesia saved his best season for last, recording an astounding 1.95 earned run average with eight wins, two losses, and 82 strikeouts. By the dawn of his East Bay career, Vesia had amassed quite the resume as the university’s all-time leader in career wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched — totaling 24 wins, 249 strikeouts, and 313 innings respectively. In lieu of his impressive performance at CSUEB, Vesia soon caught the attention of Major League Baseball scouts. 

Upon graduating, the Miami Marlins selected Vesia in the 17th round with the 507th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft, making the former Pioneer a big leaguer on June 6, 2018. While adjusting to his new life as a professional athlete three thousand miles away from his native California, Vesia impressed the Marlins rookie baseball team in the Gulf Coast League by giving up no runs in his four appearances. 

Less than a month after his rookie ball career began, Vesia was on the move again, joining the short-season Single-A Batavia Muckdogs. The Marlin-turned-Muckdog continued to dominate the field, logging over 24 innings and racking up 31 strikeouts across 10 games the pitcher appeared in. 

Vesia followed up his impressive first year with another remarkable season in Single-A for the Jupiter Hammerheads. Vesia’s sustained success in the minor leagues turned the heads of the  Marlin’s management, earning him a MLB spring training invite two short years after being drafted — a feat that takes an average pitcher four to six years to achieve.

Alex Vesia made his major league debut as a Marlin on July 25, 2020 against the Philadelphia Phillies, officially achieving his dream of pitching in the majors. Alas, Vesia’s rookie season with the Marlins was tumultuous to say the least, appearing in only five games and posting an 18.69 earned run average by allowing 10 runs in just over 4 innings of work. Seven months after his major league debut, Vesia was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

As a now-Dodger, Vesia split much of the 2021 season between Triple-A and the big leagues, appearing in 41 games out of the bullpen for the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first season with the team. Vesia turned in a great first season with an impressive regular season and playoffs. The 2022 season provided much of the same results for Vesia as he made the opening day roster and became a trusted member of the Dodgers bullpen. Vesia’s incredible performance and dynamic energy on the mound during the latest 2022 season has cemented the southpaw’s status in the big leagues as a dominant reliever and a fan-favorite in Los Angeles.

Despite his explosive success, Vesia is still rooted in the East Bay, making frequent appearances at the Pioneer baseball field to mentor the university’s current players. 

Assistant baseball coach Jake Ruiz views Vesia’s success in the Major League as a motivating factor for the team: “The impact of having an East Bay alum like Vesia make it to the big leagues and perform is a huge motivator to our current athletes. It shows our guys that it is possible to reach your highest goals if you are willing to put the work in.” 

Ruiz credited Vesia’s recent visit to the team’s heightened morale during their fall practices in preparation for the spring season. “The impact [Vesia’s visit] had on our guys was simple. The guys after the talk have come to practice with the intent of maximizing their effort and energy everyday. The intent with every swing and pitch has been elevated,” Ruiz observed. 

Current Pioneer pitcher, and recent transfer student Gabe Tanner, attributed Vesia’s visits to smoothing his transition to CSUEB. “This was a great start to my experience here, having Alex Vesia come back and speak to us was a blessing and we are truly grateful for him,” commented Tanner. 

One of CSUEB’s top starting pitchers, Ethan Brodsky, feels honored that Vesia continues to show love to his former team and is inspired by his path to success. Brodsky reflected: “Watching his journey from CSUEB to pitching in the playoffs with the Dodgers has been so incredible to see. For him to come back and share his experiences with us is an honor.”

Both Tanner and Brodsky noted how invaluable picking an MLB player’s mind was for them. “Gaining insight from a professional in the MLB, especially a pitcher, was very eye opening because he is literally living my dream and I take everything he says with an open mind,” said Tanner. Brodsky echoed Tanner’s sentiments with a specific example in which Vesia helped him with one of his pitches. “I was able to ask him specifically about his slider and how he has developed it over the last year. He showed me his grip, and talked me through some of the mental cues he uses when executing the pitch,” recalled Brodsky. 

While a shining star in the MLB, Vesia is, first and foremost, “[A] Pioneer through and through,’ shared via Twitter. A beacon of hope for any aspiring Pioneer, Vesia’s support for the baseball team at his alma mater serves as a guiding light for any prospective athlete to achieve their goals.