Baseball: Stanford Preview

Stanford is looking to return to Omaha after not playing in the College World Series the last three years. There are quite a few players and pitchers returning for Stanford but there are also quite a few questions.

This looks like a solid ballclub that will be playing in a regional in June but it doesn't look like there are enough difference-makers on the mound and at the plate for them to get back to Omaha.

Pitchers

Stanford lost the weekend starters who accounted for 40 of 60 starts last season, including 1st round pick Greg Reynolds, but due to Mark Marquess' willingness to bring relievers into the game early, the returning pitchers accounted for over half of the innings pitched last season. Stanford returns LHP Jeremy Bleich (who led Stanford in saves with 7 and was one of Stanford's during SP's throughout Pac 10 play) and RHP Nolan Gallagher, who was 3rd on the staff in innings pitched last season. Bleich and Gallagher will be the SP's on Friday and Saturday. The other SP this weekend will likely be RHP Erik Davis, although FR RHP Jeff Inman has pitched well in scrimmages and it looks like it will only be a matter of time before he pitches his way into the weekend rotation. Stanford also has several experienced relievers returning in RHP David Stringer, RHP Max Fearnow and two-way players RHP Austin Yount and LHP Sean Ratliff.

Position Players

Stanford hit 40 HR's last year, which is kind of low for a Stanford club, and returns players who accounted for only 16 of those. Two of the primary sources of power for Stanford last year were their middle infielders Chris Minaker and Chris Lewis, both of whom were drafted and are now in the minors. Stanford is also breaking in a new catcher after John Hester graduated. Most of the position players for Stanford have been starters or were at least part-time players last year. Stanford is also having to make some adjustments to their lineup due to injuries.

The potential star for Stanford is definitely RF Michael Taylor, who had a good soph season and is looking to break out this year and will be batting in the middle of Stanford's lineup. Ryan Seawell will be Stanford's leadoff hitter and CF but he has had a hamstring injury that has slowed him the past two weeks, limiting him to DH in scrimmages so he is questionable for this weekend. Other OF's for Stanford are Sean Ratliff, Joey August, Brendan Domaracki and FR Toby Gearhart. Football fans will know who Gearhart because he was a standout RB at Norco H.S.

Stanford would like Adam Sorgi to start at SS but he has been slow in his recovery from labrum surgery in his throwing shoulder that forced him to redshirt last year. People who have followed Fullerton's program can understand this watching Clark Hardman last year. Because Sorgi is also one of Stanford's best hitters, he will likely be the DH this weekend. Playing SS this weekend will be Cord Phelps, JJ Jelmini or FR Adam Gaylord. The 2B position will be handled by Austin Yount and Phelps. The corner infielders will be Randy Molina at 3B and a combination of Brent Milleville and Grant Escue at 1B. Molina can also play 1B if Marquess decides to play Phelps at 3B, where he played quite a bit last year. Starting 1B Jason Castro suffered a hand injury last week and is likely out for this weekend. Brian Juhl will be the starting C after being the backup C last year.

Marquess doesn't like to have his two-way players play in the field on days that they are likely to pitch so that will affect his lineup decisions with Yount and Ratliff. If one of them isn't in the lineup, that means that player is likely to be the first reliever to be used by Marquess.

Stanford's offensive approach is different than what the Fullerton coaches use. Stanford doesn't run much, stealing only 31 bases last year, and will only bunt when the situation dictates, such as in a tight game or with a light hitting batter. Stanford has quite a few LH hitters so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Fullerton's LHP's brought into the game in relief when the need comes up.