Tuesday's (10-14) Baseball Practice Notes

Tuesday's practice saw the final four pitchers of the pitching staff throw in an intrasquad game. We've got the lowdown on each hurler plus some hitting notes. In addition, word came in today of an important verbal commitment. Read on for all the latest.

First things first, Stanford has received a verbal commitment from Texas catcher Brian Juhl.  Juhl stands just 5'10" tall, but is a switch hitter with a sweet line drive stroke that should produce more power as he fully develops.  Perfect Game's scouting report calls Juhl "a highest level college prospect" and someone who could certainly be drafted this June.  There is a strong possibility that Donny Lucy will turn pro after this season which leaves just John Hester and Josh Corn on the catcher depth chart.  Now with Juhl in the fold, Stanford is set in 2005 at the catcher position.

It's also worth noting that Juhl is a native of Texas.  Stanford has had a lot of success going into the state of Texas recently, but mainly with pitchers.  Current pitchers Matt Manship, Jonny Dyer, and Matt Leva also reside in Texas while last year's starting shortstop Tobin Swope also was a Texas native.  Texas is no doubt a high school baseball hotbed and it's certainly good to see the Cardinal coaching staff have a great deal of success in nabbing players from the Lone Star State.

Continuing with the recruiting front, you have to figure that hitting is the primary focus of the coaching staff in this year's class.  The 2005 pitching staff could, quite frankly, be one of the best in recent Stanford baseball history if the current freshmen and sophomores continue to develop.  Only David O'Hagan and Drew Ehrlich will graduate this year and the only junior that likely has a chance to be drafted is Mark Jecmen.  Factor in the early verbal commitment of high school star Erik Davis (RHP; Mountain View, CA) and the '05 staff looks to be a very potent one. 

Meanwhile, it's likely that there will be numerous holes to fill in the starting lineup after this season.  Jonny Ash, Sam Fuld, and Brian Hall will all graduate while Lucy, Chris Carter, and Danny Putnam are all attractive pro prospects.  This means that finding top notch hitters should be a priority of the coaching staff, and getting Juhl is a very good sign.

Tuesday's Practice
Another intrasquad game this afternoon, but first some notes on today's batting practice.  Half of the hitters took BP on the field yesterday with the other half going today.  One particular hitting group especially caught my eye this afternoon in Putnam, Carter, and Ben Summerhays.  Quite possibly this is the most powerful batting practice grouping in the country.  I know it may seem like I'm exaggerating, but these three players made Sunken Diamond look like a little league field.  Summerhays, in particular, put on a show that had my jaw dropping.  He was hitting balls over the batter's eye in straight away center along with balls well over the fence in right.  I couldn't tell where these were landing, but they had to be very close to landing in the swimming pool and onto the football practice field.

That's not to take away what Putnam and Carter did.  Putnam showed the most power to the opposite field of the group while Carter was hitting his textbook line drive shots well over the wall in right.  Even the pitchers who were shagging the balls in the outfield were in awe and they see these guys hit everyday.

Sam Fuld and Jonny Ash also took part in BP this afternoon and both of those guys were hitting balls out to right and right center field with some regularity.  Ash even hit a couple that were well up on the walkway behind the right field fence.  I think both of these guys will be good for a few home runs apiece this season.

Finally, the player I was really impressed with in BP was Jed Lowrie.  I'm seeing some nice improvement from Lowrie at the plate this fall.  He looks to have gotten stronger and he was hitting balls with power from gap-to-gap, including one off the batter's eye.  There was an obvious difference from how the ball was coming off Lowrie's bat when compared to his two hitting partners in fellow infielders Adam Sorgi and Joe Ayers.

Today's intrasquad game saw the final four pitchers on the pitching staff see time on the hill (all pitchers still throwing only fastballs and change-ups).  Sophomores Pete Duda and Noah Hawthorne got the starting calls and each threw pretty well.  Duda retired 11 batters in his four innings of work while allowing two runs.  He walked just one which matched the team-low this fall (each batter is still starting with a 1-and-1 count) and struck out five.  Duda was worked along slowly last season after an arm injury hampered him late in his high school.  It looks like he'll see some innings this season, whether they are meaningful innings remains to be seen.

Hawthorne also threw pretty well today.  He's not someone who throws particularly hard, but is always around the plate.  This allowed him today to work to more hitters than his teammates (pitchers were pulled in an inning after a pitch-limit and not when they recorded the third out).  Hawthorne set down 15 hitters in his four frames while yielding one run on five hits.  He walked one and struck out four.  Hawthorne didn't see any game action last season, but we'll continue to monitor his progress this fall.

Junior Steve Papazian and freshman Jeff Stimpson were the final two hurlers to throw today.  Papazian had a rough first two innings when he allowed four runs on a couple of hits with three walks mixed in.  He settled down though in his last two innings of work.  Stimpson retired 11 hitters in his four innings while allowing a run on two hits.  He had some control issues with four walks, but also struck out three. 

At the plate, a pair of sophomores led the offensive attack.  Catcher John Hester ripped his first home run of the fall, a blast to deep left center field.  He finished the afternoon 2-for-3.  Summerhays also had a great day with the bat.  He was a perfect 3-for-3 with a double and two singles.  His double was particularly impressive as he lined a ball off the 335 foot sign down the left field line.  Other multi-hit games today came from Chris Minaker who went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and two RBI and Ryan Kissick (2-for-3, two singles).

Through four intrasquad games, the top performer at the plate has probably been Jed Lowrie.  The sophomore infielder had another hit today and has been hitting the ball hard all throughout the fall thus far.  Of the freshman hitters, Adam Sorgi has put up the most number of hits.  He's also playing solid defense and appears will challenge some of the veteran infielders for immediate playing time this season.

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