But hes happy to have another season as a Beaver

by: PHOTO COURTESY OSU - Ben Wetzler, who helped lead Clackamas High Schools baseball teams to state championships in 2008 and 2010, plans to return to Oregon State University next year, putting off a decision to turn pro.Oregon State University head baseball coach Pat Casey and Beaver baseball fans got some exciting news on July 12, the last day for college baseball players to decide whether to return to college or accept an offer to play professional baseball.

Former Clackamas High standout and OSU senior-to-be Ben Wetzler decided to return to Oregon State after being selected by Philadelphia in the 5th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.

Wetzler explains why it took him so long to make a decision:

“I honestly was changing my mind daily as to what I ultimately wanted to do. When it came down to it, I set my number that would get me to choose professional baseball, but it wasn’t met. And now I get to follow my heart back to Beaver Nation.”

Oregon State couldn’t be happier that their 6-1, 209-pound southpaw decided to come back. Wetzler finished the 2013 season 10-1, with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 83 batters in 96 innings. He received first-team All-Pac 12 honors; he is 24-6 as starter over the past three seasons.

Oregon State finished the 2013 season 52-13, including 24-6 in Pac-12 action, due in large part to an amazing pitching tandem. Their amazing run landed them a spot in the mecca of college baseball — the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Last season was a dream come true and something that we all knew that we were capable of....,” Wetzler said. “Even the previous year we told ourselves every day that we were good enough to get to Omaha. We did and came up just a little bit short, so I think we will be a little more specific with our goal (in 2014).”

The Beavers fell into the losers bracket after losing 5-4 to Mississippi State in game one of the College World Series on June 15. The team bounced back like they did during their magical run in 2006 and won back-to-back games against Louisville and Indiana.

Then the Beavers met Mississippi State again in a must-win situation. They lost 4-1 on June 21, ending their season.

But that didn’t leave the players dragging their heads.

“Omaha was incredible!” Wetzler said. “It is every college baseball player’s dream to go to Omaha, and we were able to get there last year (2013). But as cool as it was, we left there with the same sour taste in our mouths that we left LSU with, and we are itching to get back on the diamond and compete (next season).”

Getting drafted isn’t something new to Wetzler. He was selected in the 15th round by Cleveland in 2010, after a stellar career — under head coach John Arntson — at Clackamas High School. Wetzler helped lead Clackamas to state high school championships in 2008, and again in 2010.

Arntson says he gave Wetzler this advice as his former ace was struggling with this summer’s decision to remain at OSU or turn pro: “First thing I told Ben, ‘It’s a win, win situation. Try to keep that in mind. You’re either going back to college for one more year, or playing pro baseball.’”

“Getting drafted twice has been incredible and I would like to thank both the Cleveland and the Philadelphia organizations for drafting me,” Wetzler said. “Ultimately the dream is to get drafted higher and higher if you come back to school. But I won’t put any thought into it during the year. I am just excited to wear orange and black for another year.”

At this rate, Wetzler should have no problem being selected even higher after his senior season, if he keeps up the hard work and continues throwing in the low 90s.

Wetzler said it has been amazing to work and learn under coach Casey.

“Coach Casey is a special coach that I would go to battle for any day,” Wetzler said. “He is the most competitive human being on the planet, which makes him fun to play for.”

Wetzler added, “I have had some really good coaches growing up, not just pitching coaches, my high school coaches have helped shape me into the person that I am.... Specifically speaking, my (Oregon State) pitching coach Nate Yeskie is a great coach as well. He really knows the craft and he has spent countless hours learning and finding ways to teach us to be the best we can be.”

What makes Wetzler so competitive and talented?

“My best traits probably boil down to my mindset and the competitive nature that I have grown up with. That has been instilled in me by my family, friends — and most of all coaches — over my playing days.”

Wetzler says he has been enjoying the summer off from all baseball activities. He even landed himself a warehouse job in Portland and loves the grind.

“This summer is definitely different then any summer I’ve ever had before,” Wetzler said. “For the first time in my life I have a job working in a warehouse, picking hydraulic parts nine hours a day. Having this job has really made me appreciate the game more and how much I love being at the field all day.”

As a senior-to-be, Wetzler knows he has to be a role model for the younger players and really step his game up. He says he is more than ready for the challenge.

“With this being my last chance down at OSU, there is no doubt that I am completely ready to do whatever the team needs me to do, and more,” Wetzler said.

“Ben will be successful in anything he does,” said Arntson. “I have no doubt in my mind about that.”

Arntson added: “He’s a little bit of a local celebrity (in Clackamas). He comes back to the community and gives them (young players) the right message. He says and does all the right things. He’s been a role model....”

Arntson said of next season, “I told him I was going to text him every weekend. I want to see him be a first- or second-round draft pick.... He’s full-board committed to being the best.”

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