Back for another year I see. Let's cut to the chase for the coming year.
Here are a few items that the baseball team faces in this coming year:
Of the five top hitters in number of hits, only one returns Of the top five RBI hitters, only one returns Of last year's HR producers, only two return Of last year's ERA leaders, only the leader returns Of last year's IP leaders, only one with any amount returns Of the SO leaders, only two of the five return.
Yes, the Spartans have lost a lot from what was, at least, a fair team. So, shall we as fans start wringing our hands and worry about the future?
Well, there is always cause for worry as well as hope. The loss in players is a cause for worry and this year's recruiting class is definitely cause for hope.
The returning players I have listed below (14 including the redshirts).
There are two redshirt freshmen of which I know nothing. One is an outfielder and the other is a lefthanded pitcher. The list shows that the only offensive standout among returnees is the team's star Kyle Bellows.
The rest did little to impress but a year under their collective belts will help. In fact a few are projected to start (my guesses). The pitching is the leading concern for this year's version of the Spartans.
Last year they had no problem scoring runs and neither did the opposition. I know metal bats add at least one if not two runs to a pitchers ERA but at any level anything over 5.00 is not too good if you have the innings. I have Sobczak as well as Hennessey and Snodgrass starting.
Corey Valine hit .167 in limited action (18 AB) Sonny Garza hit .245 in 139 AB and 0 HR. Brett Hasegawa hit .167 in limited action (6 AB) John Shaffer hit .250 in 124 AB and 2 HR. Karson Klauer hit .262 in 164 AB and 1 HR. Kyle Bellows hit .343 in 236 AB and 6 HR. The leader (or near it) in most offensive categories.
Scott Sobczak 6-2 3.86 72IP 42/14SO/BB Brandon Hennessey 5-0 5.06 53IP 24/13 Spencer Snodgrass 2-2 5.47 54IP 26/15 Greg Shannon 5-2 6.20 49IP 45/19 Matt Stone 0-0 6.35 5IP 3/4 Tyler Greene 2-0 12.60 10IP 2/8
The newcomers number 25 with a good mix of juco transfers and freshmen coming in.
It's hard to read into what All American means at the juco level or high school level. However, it's nice when you can sign a kid that league members think is that good.
The Spartans signed a few. These include David Berner, Michael Maehl, and Alex Sofranac. I have Maehl and Sofranac starting in the outfield.
I also have Jacob Bruns and Michael Drake battling for a starting position in the outfield.
Wow, an all juco outfield.
Catching is critical.
If you read last year's article you know that I can live with a kid that can't hit if he can handle the pitching and is in charge of the game. It's that valuable.
What do the Spartan's have? A big question mark.
They have brought in second team all league Anthony Aguilera to give help at the catching spot. He also comes from arguably the toughest juco league in the nation from Orange Empire Conference so he's been tested.
Corey Valine has been mentioned as a catcher also and he can also sting the ball so he'll get some time somewhere. Figure Aguilera to start.
Pitching has help on the way also. Berner leads the bunch and should start. He has a great SO to BB ratio of 10:1 in 109 innings.
That's outstanding. Anthony Vega was the leading pitcher (and all-conference Bay Valley Conference) in all categories on his team (Los Medanos). His ratio was also 10:1.
This on a team that was under .500. There was also a head-scratcher by the name of Jack Adams. ERA of 0.42, which is fine, but only 21 innings? Oh yeah, 27 strikeouts in those 21 innings. Closer maybe?
The other is Ryan Shopshire who held the opposition to a .203 batting average. He has good size at 6'5" so he will get some time on the mound also.
1B – Garza Returning player Sr 2B – Klauer Returning So 3B – Bellows Returning So SS – Shaffer Returning Jr OF – Maehl Juco Jr OF – Sofranac Juco Jr OF – Bruns/Drake Juco Jr C – Valine Returning So C – Aguilera Juco Jr P – Sobczak Returning Jr P – Hennessey Returning Sr P – Snodgrass Returning So P – Berner Juco Jr P – Vega Juco Jr
So, in finalizing my rambling let me say these few things.
Recruiting was very good and it looks like next year is in pretty good shape also. No hugely outstanding signees, as Bellows was last year, but a lot of solid players.
Filled the holes that were screaming to be filled in outfield and pitching. Can you ever have enough pitching?
Should I trade Tim Lincecum?
No, I didn't think so either. I'll have to give recruiting a B+. The returning players? As you can see I have a bunch in the starting lineup with only one senior.
First base and catching are very open. There is also an incoming freshman who might get some time behind the plate (Bryson Rahier).
My projections for the year?
Well, most feel the Spartans for the middle of the pack, just like football.
They won 36 games last year which wasn't enough to get into the playoffs. I think they have to have at least 36 if not 40 to get in.
That would include a strong showing (more than one win) in the WAC tournament and finishing the season on a high note.
I think they can get fourth place this year with third next.
Hey, the WAC is tough.
See you at the games!
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