Fall Baseball Closes

The Stanford Baseball team put the finishing touches on their fall season with an intrasquad game on Sunday afternoon. A pair of sophomore pitchers led the way while slugging first baseman John Mayberry, Jr. came up with a huge day at the plate. Read on for all the notes plus projections on the starting lineup and pitching rotation.

It was the final day of fall practice on Sunday as the baseball squad took part in yet another Cardinal vs. White intrasquad game.  Seven pitchers saw time on the hill with the White Team knocking off the Cardinal by a 7-4 final score.

White     2 0 3  1 0 0  0 1 0  0   -   7 13  0
Cardinal  4 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 0  0   -   4  6  1

White Team
1. Jim Rapoport, CF
2. Adam Sorgi, SS
3. John Mayberry, Jr., 1B
4. Michael Taylor, RF
5. Ryan Seawell, LF
6. Brian Juhl, C
7. Joe Ayers, 2B
8. Randy Molina, 3B
9. Jeff Boes, DH

The White Team bounced back after losing yesterday.  Four players had multi-hit games today led by the slugging first baseman John Mayberry, Jr.  Mayberry hammered the ball all afternoon as he finished the day 3-for-5 with a home run, double, single, and two RBI.  Junior slammed 16 homers to go with a .333 average last season and there is no reason to think he can't improve on those numbers in 2005.

Sophomore center fielder Jim Rapoport concluded his fall with another strong game.  Rapoport went 2-for-5 with a double while also playing his usual flawless defensive center field.  I thought this speedy outfielder could have started last season (but obviously the center field position was taken care of) and now looks more than ready to step in and playing a leading role on this ballclub.

Meanwhile, Rapoport's two outfield teammates also had strong performances today.  Frosh Michael Taylor really finished the fall on a high note with his efforts during this past week.  Today, the 6'6", 235 lbs. right fielder went 2-for-5 with a pair of ringing, line drive singles.  He also picked up two RBI and stole a base.  Watching Taylor in infield/outfield drills it's also quite noticeable that the young man has a cannon for an arm and should throw out a few baserunners this season.  In addition, sophomore left fielder Ryan Seawell recorded a pair of hits in going 2-for-5.  Seawell picked-up an RBI and a stole a base as well. 

Cardinal Team
1. Brendan Domaracki, RF
2. Chris Minaker, SS
3. Jed Lowrie, 2B
4. John Hester, C
5. Chris Lewis, 3B
6. Ben Summerhays, 1B
7. Darren Gemoll, LF/1B
8. Cameron Matthews, CF
9. Josh Corn, DH/LF
10. Zachary Gianos, DH

The Cardinal team today did all of their damage in the first inning.  With two outs, three consecutive singles from Lowrie, Hester, and Lewis plated a run.  Then Ben Summerhays stepped to the plate and crushed a home run well over the fence in right center field for a four-run inning.  Summerhays also had an impressive double off Jeff Gilmore to deep right center field in yesterday's game, so he leaves the fall season on a high note. 

Very little offense otherwise for this team today.  Chris Lewis had been swinging a hot bat the last week and a half and he kept that going through today with a 2-for-3, RBI effort.

*******

The sophomore pitching class continues to be the story this fall season as Greg Reynolds and Jeff Stimpson came up with stellar outings once again.  Reynolds was in complete control during his entire stint on the mound.  The towering righty fired 4 2/3 scoreless frames with just two hits (both singles) allowed.  He walked two and struck out four. 

Reynolds' fastball has consistently been in the upper 80's with some low 90's all fall and the location of that pitch has been phenomenal.  But I think the real story with Greg this fall has been the development of his curve ball.  In especially his last two outings (today and last Tuesday), that breaking pitch has been nearly unhittable - in particular to right-handed hitters.  An MLB scout remarked to me last Tuesday that the curve ball Reynolds was throwing was the best he had ever seen from him and this particular scout has been tracking Reynolds since back in his high school days.  Reynolds also mixed in an effective change-up as well.  You just have to love it when a pitcher shows significant improvement from their freshman to sophomore years.

You also always like to see how certain pitchers do against the big-time hitters in the lineup.  Looking over Reynolds' day today, you notice he struck out Lowrie swinging on one occasion (only the second time Lowrie went down on strikes this fall over ten intrasquad games).  Reynolds also had one very impressive inning where he set down Mayberry on a ground out and then back-to-back strike outs of Taylor and Seawell.

Speaking of improvement, it was another quality outing for Jeff Stimpson today as well.  The sophomore right-hander tossed five shutout innings with just two hits allowed, two walks, and six strike outs.  The entire fall season Stimpson displayed electric stuff especially with his fastball.  Today, he had no problems getting that heater into the low 90's and it really set up his offspeed pitches.  I don't know what the coaches are thinking for Stimpson's role this year, but with what he showed this fall, having Stimpson close ballgames in 2005 might be a good idea. 

Freshman Erik Davis put forth another solid outing today.  Davis wasn't throwing quite as hard as either of the two sophomores, but had good command of his pitches.  Overall, Davis went four innings surrendering one run on four hits.  He walked two and struck out a very impressive six batters.  It's a crowded pitching staff at the top, but Davis will find a way to get some innings this year and he has future starter written all over him.

The only run Davis gave up today was on Mayberry, Jr's home run.  Davis worked the count full to Mayberry and then tried to come high and inside with fastballs.  Junior fouled off consecutive pitches before Davis came back with another fastball inside to which Mayberry turned on it and lined it over the fence in left.

Most of the runs today came off of the junior Matt Manship.  Manship had been throwing well over his first three appearances this fall, but today very little went right for him.  Manship allowed the big four-run inning for the Cardinal Team that included Summerhays' mammoth blast to right.  The White Team also peppered Manship early in the contest with Taylor picking up a pair of RBI singles off the right-hander and Mayberry knocking out an RBI double to deep center field.

Logan Ardis, David Stringer, and Rex Petrill closed out the ballgame as each hurler fired a scoreless inning.

*******

So now that fall ball is complete, where does this year's Stanford Baseball team stand?  Like last year, it would appear the pitching staff will have plenty of depth.  The main difference though should be quality depth.  Last season's staff was composed mainly of freshmen and sophomores which obviously means this year's staff will feature primarily sophomores and juniors.  Coach Marquess should have no problem finding eight or nine quality pitchers this season to log most of the innings.  Perhaps the only question with the pitching staff is who (if anyone) will rise up and become a dominant #1 starter in the mold of a John Hudgins from two seasons ago.  Jeff Gilmore could be on his way from what he showed last summer in Alaska (0.67 ERA as a closer) combined with his strong fall back here on the Farm.  The three sophomores I've repeatedly mentioned this fall have all shown tremendous improvement in Blake Holler, Greg Reynolds, and Jeff Stimpson.  Then there's of course last season's ace pitcher and All-Pac-10 performer Mark Romanczuk.  Romanczuk pitched sparingly this fall to rest his arm and I will be anxious to see what he's got when the team resumes official practice in January.

As for the hitting, there will be plenty of new faces in the starting lineup this year.  Only three starters return in Jed Lowrie, John Mayberry, Jr., and Chris Minaker and you can certainly expect this threesome to put up monster numbers in the middle portion of the lineup.  Junior John Hester could have been an impact player last season and his torrid fall with the bat indicates he is ready to have a big year in the middle of the lineup.  A couple of sophomore outfielders in Jim Rapoport and Ryan Seawell showed what they could do in practices last year and with open spots in the outfield appear poised to move into the starting lineup.  Chris Lewis had a nice fall with the bat and may be ready to start full-time over at the hot corner.  Meanwhile, highly touted freshman Michael Taylor was just as advertised.  A bit raw in a few areas, but a superstar in the making and someone who should get a chance to play from day one this year.  There are also a handful of players that are very close and with at least one open spot (DH) in the starting lineup, you should expect to see these players get a chance to show what they can do (Summerhays, Sorgi, Juhl, Domaracki, Molina).  Last year's starting lineup was basically set by February, but I expect that to be very different this season.

An early projection on this year's lineup:

1. Rapoport, CF
2. Minaker, SS
3. Lowrie, 2B
4. Mayberry, Jr., 1B
5. Hester, C
6. Taylor, RF
7. Lewis, 3B
8. Seawell, LF
9. DH

Starting Pitchers: Gilmore, Holler, Reynolds (Romanczuk)
Closer: Stimpson
Relievers: Manship, Davis, Duda, Ardis (Leva, Gallagher)

This set-up based on what I saw this fall.  Certainly one of those starting pitching spots will go to Romanczuk, but the lefty threw only four innings this fall and the three other hurlers I have listed as starters each looked quite good.  The competition for those starting pitching spots should be fierce come January.  You would also expect both sophomore Matt Leva and freshman Nolan Gallagher to be key members of this year's staff, but neither pitched this fall because of arm injuries.

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