Baseball Preview: Oklahoma State

One of the longer road trips that Cal State Fullerton has ever undertaken continues this weekend in Stillwater, OK, home of the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

LINEUP

Oklahoma State had a powerful lineup last season, ranking in the top 20 nationally with 89 HR's and the top 30 nationally in scoring.  But, the Cowboys lost most of the players responsible for putting up those numbers, having several players who were part-time players last season moving into starting roles.  Despite those personnel losses, they have continued to put up big numbers by scoring 5+ runs in 12 of 13 games, although the numbers are down in BA (.301 from .326) and slugging (.462 from .531).  Oklahoma State is a patient team at the plate, walking well over five times per game, and they wait for their pitch to drive it, averaging three extra base hits per game.  The Cowboys won't play much little ball, with 13 SB's (7 by one player) and 10 SAC's (5 by one player).  They have been a good defensive team, making only 10 E's with a .979 fielding percentage.  One thing to note is six of the regulars for Oklahoma State are LH hitters with a lineup built to take advantage of the ballpark that favors LH hitters.

C – Soph Kevin David (RH – .366-1-10-0) redshirted last year but the time off hasn't kept him from getting off to a hot start at the plate.  He leads the team with 5 SAC's.  David usually bats 2nd or 3rd.  He has been average defensively, as baserunners are 15-19 and he has allowed 14 WP's/PB's.

1B – Soph Dean Green (LH – .261-1-6-0) was the DH last season (2008 – .319-5-24-2) and has moved to 1B this year but has gotten off to a slow start.  He is a big player and has struggled some defensively.  Green usually bats 6th or 7th.

2B – Soph Davis Duren (LH – .378-0-11-7) was a reserve last season (2008 – .452 in 42 AB's) but has taken advantage of his opportunity to get more playing time as the team leader in SB's and one of the leaders in BA.  He usually bats 8th.

SS – Soph Tom Belza (LH – .321-0-16-0) is probably the best all-around player on the team.  He was the 2B last season, when he was a FR All-American and 2nd team All Big XII (2008 – .386-2-34-1).  Belza is a good defensive player and only made 5 E's in 2008.  He usually hits 3rd or 4th.

3B – SR Tyrone Hambly (RH – .267-1-10-1) is one of the few players who is starting at the same position as last season (2008 – .277-6-34-2)  He is a solid defensive player who made 11 E's last season but has yet to make an error this year.  Hambly led the team last season with 13 HBP's and 12 SAC's.

LF – JR Neil Medchill (LH – .313-3-15-0) is the leading returning power hitter from last season, when he was 1st team all Big XII (2008 – .349-11-41-2).  He has gotten off to a good start but has a big swing and is prone to striking out with 16 K's in 48 AB's.

CF – JR Dusty Harvard (LH – .250-0-4-1) has been a reserve the first two seasons (2008 – 3-17) and was usually brought in late in games in 2008 as a defensive replacement.  He is the lineup for his speed, with good range in CF.  Harvard is one of the faster runners on the team and bats leadoff.

RF – SR Michael Dabbs (LH – .208-1-6-2) has decent speed and range in the OF, is the most likely player to start in RF and bats 9th when he is in the lineup.  He has gotten off to a slow start after a decent 2008 (.291-3-28-3).

DH – JR Doug Kroll (RH – .392-5-18-0) is a JC transfer who put up big numbers at that level (.419-19-77) and was brought in to be a power hitter in the middle of the lineup and he hasn't disappointed, leading the team in BA, HR's and RBI's.  He usually bats 4th or 5th.  Kroll is a big player with a big swing (14 K's in 51 AB's).

PITCHING

Oklahoma State has an experienced rotation that is the strength of their team but is working on filling in the gaps in the bullpen after losing several relievers.  The staff ERA is 6.10 but the Cowboys have been winning in spite of that due to their offense.  The two SP's that Fullerton is likely to see this weekend are JR LHP's Andy Oliver and Tyler Lyons, who are two of the better LHP's in the country.  Oliver is projected to go in the first round in the draft and Lyons is projected to go in the first couple of rounds.

Oliver (3-0, 3 starts, 4.74 ERA, 19 IP, 16 H, 8 BB, 25 K, .229 BA, 3 HR) was outstanding last season when he was 1st team all Big XII – 7-2, 2.20 ERA in 14 starts, 98 IP, 72 H, 36 BB, 96 K, .211 BA.  Oliver has a very good fastball for a LHP that sits in the 92-94 range and a power curveball.  He hasn't been as effective to start this season, which could partially be tied to his legal case with the NCAA in which he has had to go to court to regain his athletic eligibility.  Oliver allowed 6 R's in 7 IP at East Carolina two weeks ago and 3 R's in 6 IP last week against Oregon State.

Lyons (2-0, 1.38 ERA, 3 apps, 2 starts, 13 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 13 K, .159 BA, 1 HR) was also outstanding last season when he was 2nd team all Big XII – 12-2, 3.31 ERA, 15 starts, 4 CG, 109 IP, 111 H, 19 BB, 92 K, .261 BA,  Lyons doesn't throw as hard as Oliver but has better control and has a good four pitch mix.  Lyons has allowed 2 R's (1 ER) in two starts against Manhattan and Gonzaga.

The other SP for Oklahoma State is JR Tyler Bradford (RHP – 3-0, 6.19 ERA, 3 starts, 16 IP, 11 H, 10 BB, 25 K, .190 BA), who is the hardest thrower on the staff with a mid 90's fastball but prone to wildness.    2008 – 4-6, 6.23 ERA, 12 starts, 61 IP, 66 H, 31 BB, 51 K, .276 BA.  The midweek SP is Soph LHP Thomas Keeling, who allowed 2 R's in 7 IP with 12 K's on Tues at Arizona.

The closer for the Cowboys is FR RHP Randy McCurry, who has done a good job with 5 saves.  He is 1-0, 3.72 ERA in 7 apps, 9 2/3 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 11 K.  Other relievers likely to be seen are SR LHP Brett Davis (1-0, 6.43 ERA, 3 apps, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 5 K), Soph RHP Brad Propst (2 apps, 1 save, 3 IP, 0 R), SR RHP Jeff Breedlove (0-0, 5.37 ERA, 5 apps, 1 start, 13 2/3 IP, 21 H, 4 BB, 8 K), FR RHP Uriah Fisher (2 apps, 2 saves, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 K) and SR RHP Jared Starks (1-0, 7.94 ERA, 3 apps, 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 1 K.