Army Baseball Preview: Bullpen/freshmen

Army kicks off their 2010 baseball season on February 19th against Dayton in North Carolina. The 2009 Army baseball made us proud and the 2010 squad is expected to be even better. This is the final segment of a five part series previewing the 2010 Army baseball team.

THE BULLPEN

Kyle Brueggeman, SO, RHP, 24.2 IP, 8.03 ERA, 15 K, 12 BB, .361 BAA

Going into the 2009 season with Porter and Henshaw shelved, it seemed as though that third starter spot was up for grabs between two freshman," Bruegs" and RHP Ryan Davis. Kyle wound up winning the slot and when Porter came back, slid into the 4th starter spot for the Patriot League rotation. Kyle took his lumps but seemed to handle it with great understanding and poise.

Unfortunately, a foul ball into the dugout brought a premature end to Kyles freshman campaign, but fully recovered, he had a great fall showing, only second to Porters. Kyle did a very nice job of locating and mixing up his pitches. With more confidence in his greatly improved breaking ball, hitters will no longer be able to sit on a fastball and take their whacks. Expect Brueggeman to be a top right handed option for Coach Sottolano this season.

Steve Cummings, SR, LHP, 41 IP, 3.73 ERA, 17 BB, 26 K, .314 BAA

Sottolano has shown that when the collars could get tight, he likes upperclassmen. Cummings fits that bill to a t. Even keeled and loose, Cummings was tabbed to face off vs. #1 ranked Texas in the regional final last season as a junior. Steve came in and did an admirable job, keeping Army on top of Texas through 4.1 innings of pitching in one of the most hostile environments possible for college baseball.

Cummings enemy through the years has been his control. When he can keep it around the strike zone, he's very tough. Problems arise though as he can go deep into counts on batters which runs up pitch counts and brings him out of games early. It remains to be seen if Sottolano will use him as a primary lefty reliever out of the pen or a mid week starter for non conference games. Either way, look for Cummings to play a large role in the Black Knights successes this season.

Ryan Davis, SO, RHP

Davis seemed to drop out off Coach Sottolano's radar as the season went along. He showed progress in the fall and hopefully that will mean better outcomes for him this spring. It's unknown what role he's expected to shoulder in the upcoming season.

Kevin McKague, JR, RHP –Closer

McKague is much like Henshaw, in the regard that, if he pounds the strike zone with his 90+ mph fastball, he's incredibly tough. If however, he's not locating well, it can be a long day for McKague. McKagues greatest attribute on the hill is his head. This kid wants the ball in tight situations and does not get flustered. He understands that he's just got to make one good pitch at a time.

FRESHMAN ARMS

Three freshman have been particularly interesting to keep tabs on as prospective contributors. Both Ken Jackson, RHP, 6'2" 200, and Chris Rowley, RHP, 6'1" 185, are players to keep an eye on. Fall and winter workouts have shown great promise for these two and we should reasonably expect Coach Sottolano to test their mettle at some point early in the season, to find their value to the staff. These two are the odds on favorites to become either front line relievers or mid week starters. Either way, expect them to log some innings and get a good taste of the college game as freshman.

One that might surprise is John Buckley, RHP, 5'8" 160. At that size, you might wonder, what can this kid bring, but it's not what he brings, it's where he brings it from. A walk on to Army baseball, Buckley is a submariner who slings it from down low and outside. It's not hard and it doesn't have tons of movement, but what it does, is screw with hitters vision as he finds the new pitchers release point. After trying to time up a traditional over the top or high ¾'s pitcher, seeing a delivery from down low and rising up to you can really play havoc on your eyes. He probably wouldn't do as well a second time through the batting order, but Buckley may serve a good purpose in middle relief or possibly closing some games.


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