Oklahoma State opens the 2017 baseball season on the road in Arizona this weekend for a three-game set with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and then stays over until Tuesday to tangle with the always tough and nationally ranked Arizona State Sun Devils.
The Pokes are in all the rankings and are 18th in Baseball America. One of the reasons they are also picked second in the very tough Big 12 with TCU and Texas Tech also coming off College World Series appearances in 2016 is the returning pitchers. Veteran Trey Cobb will be on the shelf to start the season, but should be back for the start of Big 12 play.
Tyler Buffett, who was 9-3 last season with a 2.81 ERA and nine saves is good to go and he is a preseason All-American. Buffett says he still knows that Cowboys pitching coach Rob Walton has his "wizard" powers that he weaves to make the Cowboys pitchers better on an every day basis.
"I kind of forgot what impact he had and the other day I was doing a bullpen (throwing session) and I got off and threw several bad pitches," Buffett said. "He looked over at me and said just a couple of words and it was exactly the correction I needed to make and I was back throwing strikes. He is still the wizard."
The wizard still has plenty of talent to work with as last season's freshman sensation Jensen Elliott is back after a 9-3 campaign with a 3.50 ERA. Lefty Carson Teel, curveball legacy Joe Lienhard, and another reliever Blake Battenfield are back.
There are several young pitchers you can look forward to seeing too. Josh Holiday has mentioned Brady Basso and Chris Burdine as two freshman pitchers that have promise. With four games in the first five days of the season on the road we should see plenty of arms get a chance to open up the season in Arizona.