Saturday Baseball Preview: Pepperdine

It's time for another year of Titan Baseball with the potential for a return visit to Omaha in the last year of venerable Rosenblatt Stadium. Fullerton is ranked in the top five in every major poll on the strength of a pitching staff that returns all three weekend starters and several position players that are pre-season All Americans. Here is a preview for each of Fullerton's opponents.

Pepperdine Waves

  • Overall Record – 31-23
  • Conference Record – 12-9 (3rd place - tied)
  • RPI/ISR – 139/71
  • Predicted conf finish – 2nd
  • 2009 Summary and 2010 Preview

Pepperdine went into last season with high expectations after playing in six straight regionals and returned an experienced roster. The Waves got off to a 16-6 start against a soft schedule before crashing during a seven game losing streak that included losing their first five WCC games. Pepperdine played better down the stretch in an attempt to get back in the conf race but couldn’t dig their way out of their deep hole and ended up finishing tied for 3rd and not qualifying for a regional for the first time since 2002. The Waves struggled with their hitting last season and scored three runs or less 20 times and were in the bottom half of the country in most hitting categories. Pepperdine’s hitting was their undoing because their team ERA was in the top 40 nationally and they had the second best fielding % in the country. The Waves return five starting position players and their two best SP’s but need to replace their middle infield, most of their outfield and most of their bullpen.

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 81 (decreases offense by 19%).
  • Batting Average – .284 (223)
  • Runs Per Game – 6.0 (218)
  • Home Runs – 43 (177)
  • Stolen Bases – 46 (209)
  • Slugging Percentage – .408 (230)
  • Walks – 167 (235)
  • HBP’s – 66 (88)
  • Sac Bunts – 36 (89)

 

Lineup

SR C Trent Diedrich (RH – .346/.447/.423, 0-9-0 in 76 AB’s) and Soph Nate Johnson (LH – .242/.327/.371, 5-24-1) provide an experienced tandem behind the plate. Diedrich was the starter in ’08 (.291-2-32) and last year before breaking his foot in early April. Diedrich is much better at getting on base while Johnson has more power.

SR 1B Ryan Heroy (RH – .290/.409/.494, 7-28-2) is a big guy who is in his third year as a starter and one of the main power threats (2nd on team in HR’s last season). He has a big swing and led the team with 47 K’s last year.

2B/SS – Pepperdine is breaking in a new middle infield after losing both of their starters and is looking at a couple of FR to take over with 2B Joe Sever and SS Zachary Vincej (both RH hitters). Soph Miles Silverstein (RH – .273 in 77 AB’s) will be the backup in the middle infield.

SR 3B Colin Rooney (RH – .327/.412/.503, 6-31-0) is a solid run producer who was 2nd on the team in SLG % and 3rd in HR’s and RBI’s.

Soph CF Brian Humphries (LH – .305/.336/.400, 2-38-8) is a pre-season all-conf selection. Good speed and a productive hitter who was 2nd on the team in RBI’s.

LF/RF and DH – Soph Aaron Gates (LH – .309/.377/.404, 2-8-0) will be in the mix in the OF when he’s not pitching and at DH when he’s pitching. Lots of players will be getting their first shots at extensive playing time at the corner OF spots including Soph Ryan Van Amburg (RH – .260 in 77 AB’s), Soph Tyler Brubaker (RH – .211 in 19 AB’s), JC transfer Floyd Given (LH) and FR Mike Hole (RH).

 

Defense

Fielding % .982 (2) – 36 errors. Pepperdine was one of the best fielding teams in the country but lost their 2B and SS who combined made only seven errors. Rooney made only two errors at 3B. Humphries is very good in CF.

Stolen Base Attempts – 46-59 against Diedrich and Johnson.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 74. One of the few areas that Pepperdine was below average in defensively was at blocking pitches.

 

Pitching

  • ERA – 4.52 (32)
  • BA – .240
  • HR – 30
  • H’s/9 IP – 7.82 (2)
  • BB’s/9 IP – 4.25 (184)
  • K’s/9 IP – 9.1 (14)

 

Starting Pitchers

FRI – Redshirt Soph Cole Cook (RHP – 7-3, 3.69 ERA, 16 apps, 8 starts, 1 CG, 83 IP, 57 H, 20 BB, 79 K, .195 BA, 4 HR, 4 HBP, 7 WP) is a big guy who throws hard (fastball into the mid 90’s) and has a good breaking ball. Good control for a hard thrower. 7th in the country in H/9 IP last year at 6.18. Baserunners were 7-10 on SB attempts. FR All-American last season and pre-season all conf selection. He has the potential to be drafted in the first few rounds with a good season.

SAT – JR Matt Bywater (LHP – 6-1, 3.57 ERA, 12 apps, 10 starts, 63 IP, 50 H, 24 BB, 66 K, .217 BA, 6 HR, 3 HBP, 5 WP). Fastball in the upper 80s with a good changeup. Baserunners were 3-7 on SB attempts and he picked off two runners. 1st team all conf last season and a pre-season all conf selection.

SUN – SR Robert D*ckmann (LHP – 2008 stats, 3-5, 5.44 ERA, 14 starts, 67 IP, 88 H, 18 BB, 37 K, .332 BA, 9 HR, 4 HBP, 2 WP). Injured in his first start last year and was a medical redshirt. Crafty LHP with solid changeup and curveball.

Midweek – Soph Aaron Gates (LHP – 3-3, 6.14 ERA, 17 apps, 11 starts, 44 IP, 45 H, 30 BB, 43 K, .280 BA, 6 HR, 7 HBP, 2 WP). Gates will be the midweek SP and focus on hitting on the weekends.

 

Relief Pitchers

JR Kevin Inman (RHP – 10 IP) and Soph Brad Jesernig (RHP – 12 IP) are the only relievers returning so the roles for pitchers in the bullpen are in a state of flux. The pitchers who looked the best during the fall were FR RHP’s Cory Jones and Daniel Patrick and FR LHP’s Alex Najera and Jordan Luvisi.