Harvard-Westlake High is gearing up to turn loose sophomore pitchers

Bryce Rainer and Duncan Marsten in uniform sit on a bench.
Bryce Rainer, left, and Duncan Marsten, shown here last season as freshmen, are two of three standout sophomore pitchers preparing to be unleashed by Harvard-Westlake.

The last time many people saw 15-year-old Bryce Rainer pitch for Harvard-Westlake High, he was standing on the mound in the Southern Section Division 1 semifinal in June and beating Orange Lutheran 3-2 after throwing 98 pitches. He finished the year 9-0 on the mound for the Division 1 champions. Then he seemingly disappeared, making the rare decision to rest his arm.

“It was very difficult,” Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert said. “The baseball community wants to see him throw.”

Rainer is just now getting back into his throwing program and could make an appearance by January. It’s refreshing to see a young pitcher and his family prioritize health over hype. The fact that he’s already made a verbal commitment to UCLA helped.

“They trusted us and didn’t do a lot of throwing during the summer,” Halpert said.

Harvard-Westlake is slated to have a trio of standout sophomore pitchers few programs can duplicate. Besides Rainer, Thomas Bridges, who made major contributions as a freshman, is back and the real buzz centers on sophomore Duncan Marsten, who couldn’t pitch as a freshman because of a back injury. Committed to Stanford, Marsten was supposed to be the equal of Rainer.


“I think you’re going to see him and Bryce pitching in the low 90s this year,” Halpert said.

Marsten should make his winter debut in December.

Whatever happens, Harvard-Westlake is about to have its most highly regarded group of pitchers since Max Fried, Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty were high school teammates. Fried threw six shutout innings Tuesday night to help the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. Flaherty and Giolito were there to support their former teammate.

The school’s pitching staff continues to be off the charts.