Westmont Magazine Pitcher Throws Himself into Community Service
Hector Lujan ’17 makes an impact both on and off the baseball field. The Minnesota Twins drafted the hard-throwing right hander in the 35th round of the 2015 MLB draft, and he has worked his way up the organizational ladder, finishing the 2019 season with the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
“After five years of playing—and still being grateful to be playing—I’ve grown even more passionate for the game,” Hector says. “I’ve learned many new things and gained life experiences through the ups and downs of the game. I hoped to reach the major leagues someday and have my family there to see my debut.”
Hector earned the Twins’ 2019 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service, given to a recipient who exemplifies Killebrew’s life of working in the community. In 2017, he won the award while pitching for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
“It’s been great to watch Hector continue to grow and succeed in minor league baseball,” says Rob Ruiz, head coach of the Westmont baseball team. “During his time as a Warrior, he made it a priority to keep moving on to the next level in baseball. I’m excited to see that he won the Killebrew award focusing on giving back to his community.”
“Hector was our choice for the award because he truly lived out our mission, to improve the quality of life for those in our community,” says Anna Striano, the Blue Wahoos community relations manager. “A regular visitor to our autograph alley, Hector made time both before and after games to make sure that each child not only got the autograph that they were after, but also left with a smile on their face. As one of our players with the most community hours volunteered this season, Hector was consistently engaging with members of our community from all different walks of life. Whether it be visiting sick children in the hospital or catching a ceremonial first pitch, he was always the first to jump in when we needed volunteers, and always did so with a smile on his face.”
Hector, who was born in Corona, Calif., and attended Jurupa Valley High School, didn’t attend sports camps as a child. “Once I had the opportunity to work with kids, I was motivated to take advantage of it, working with my teammates to brighten the kids’ and their family’s days,” he says. “I also enjoy working at children’s hospitals because when I walk into a room with my teammates and see their smile and eyes and face light up, their joy comes right to you.”
Following his career in baseball, Hector aspires to start an organization to help families in need of food or unable to afford medical help.
While playing with the Elizabethton Twins in Tennessee during his second professional season, he met his wife, Erin Watts, and the two married in December 2019. Hector says Erin is a motivational force in his baseball career and life.
“Having someone with a strong faith has made me become even more grateful for her,” he says. “She and her family are strong supporters and encourage me to stay on the path the Lord has laid out before me on and off the field.”
At Westmont, Hector pitched in 23 innings of relief, holding opposing batters to .177 against him with an ERA of 4.50. The Warriors finished the season 41-17, setting a new record for wins in a single season, eventually losing at No. 4 Georgia Gwinnett in NAIA Championship Opening Round.
“Westmont’s amazing coaches taught me tools and lessons I continue to use in my pro career,” Hector says. “At Westmont, I strengthened and surrounded myself in my faith and learned I can overcome obstacles and challenges with myself or my family.”
Since Major League Baseball shut down spring training March 13, Hector has been throwing and working out as much as possible, even with equipment lying around the house.
“It’s been a challenge not being out there competing on the field,” he says. “I’ve been doing my best to stay ready, and I remain hopeful the season will begin soon. I’m grateful for all those on the frontlines keeping us safe and getting us through these times.”