Baseball News & Notes

Autumn is upon us which means the "ping" sound of the aluminum bat can again be heard on a daily basis at Sunken Diamond. Unofficial workouts have started for this year's Cardinal baseball squad in preparation for the three-week "Fall Ball" season. Read on for notes on various standout summer performances, potential position changes, news on the roster, and information on a pair of exciting freshmen.

Before I examine the beginning of unofficial workouts at Sunken Diamond, lets first review some of the standout performances of Cardinal players from the past summer.  Headlining the list is junior pitcher Greg Reynolds who excelled in the high-profile Cape Cod League while throwing for the Bourne Braves.  The towering right-hander made eight starts with the Braves compiling a stellar 1.70 ERA over 53 innings.  Reynolds held the opposition to a .195 opponents batting average.

He would save his best for last as the Pacifica native was called on to start Game One of the best-of-three Cape Cod League Championship Series in August.  Though he suffered the loss, Reynolds came through with what will go down as one of the top performances of his career – at any level:

8 1/3 innings, one hit, one run, two walks, four strike outs

Reynolds finished his sophomore season on The Farm with a bang, recording a 1.46 ERA over his final seven regular season appearances of the year (2 ER/12.1 IP).  Then who can forget his gutty performance in the NCAA Regional championship game, when Reynolds worked into the 12th inning against the Baylor Bears before eventually falling one run short.  That ending combined with his masterful summer has scouts talking about an early selection in the upcoming draft.  And as far as the Cardinal are concerned, perhaps a spot atop a very talented Stanford pitching staff is ahead.

Other noteworthy pitching performances from the summer include sophomore Erik Davis dazzling while throwing for the Maxim Yankees in the Bay Area.  Davis posted a 2.48 ERA over eight starts striking out 47 batters in just 36 1/3 innings.  Senior Matt Manship also excelled as a starting pitcher over the summer.  While pitching in the Hawaii Collegiate League, Manship started his summer campaign with back-to-back complete game performances en route to an All-League selection.

At the plate, sophomore Michael Taylor led the charge.  A banner summer in the high-profile Alaska League saw the slugging outfielder post a sizzling .317 batting average, four home runs, and 25 RBI over 41 games.  The sophomore stole a remarkable 25 bases, earned All-League recognition, and the top prospect distinction in the entire league according to Baseball America.

Seniors Chris Lewis and Chris Minaker were also both named to the Hawaii Collegiate All-League team.  Meanwhile, junior Ryan Seawell had a breakthrough summer in the Jayhawk League.  The Bay Area native hit an impressive .335 with team-leading totals of eight home runs and 33 RBI.  Seawell finished second in the entire league in both homers and runs batted in.

The fall season has now begun for the 2006 Cardinal Baseball squad.  "Unofficial" workouts started on Tuesday out at Sunken Diamond.  Per NCAA rules, only four players are allowed on the field at a time for direct instruction during these workouts.  The remainder of the players are usually working in the batting cages or in the bullpen when not on the field.  These workouts will continue at Sunken Diamond until Sunday, October 9th when official "Fall Ball" begins.  The team will play approximately 15 intrasquad games over a three-week period through the beginning of November before "unofficial" workouts resume for the remainder of the fall academic quarter.

The notable transfer this offseason was first baseman Ben Summerhays leaving the program.  Summerhays spent two years on a Mormon mission before beginning his time at Stanford in the autumn of 2002.  Summerhays missed all of 2003 with multiple knee injuries, received only 12 at-bats as a sophomore in '04 before struggling last year as a part-time DH (.220 AVG, 0 HR, 5 RBI).

Other transfers included: infielder Joe Ayers, catcher Josh Corn, and first baseman Darren Gemoll.  The trio combined for just one at-bat last season.

After no scholarship seniors on last year's team, the 2006 edition will feature four: John Hester, Lewis, Manship, and Minaker.

With workouts beginning this week at Sunken Diamond, a couple of position changes could be occurring with current Cardinal players.  Seawell, an outfielder the last two seasons, appears to be helping to fill in the void at first base.  An athletic player who spent most of his high school career as a shortstop, Seawell enjoyed a tremendous final few weeks of 2005 with the bat before breaking out over the summer.  At least at this very early stage of the fall, Seawell is the lone returnee seeing time at first base during unofficial workouts.

Freshmen Brent Milleville and Grant Escue are also seeing action over at first.  Milleville was a highly-regarded catching recruit who was ticketed for a fourth or fifth round draft selection last June if not for his strong commitment to Stanford.  He was twice named Kansas Player of the Year.  Escue, a freshman from Illinois, is the lone true first baseman on the roster.

Along with Summerhays, last year's first basemen – John Mayberry, Jr. (draft) and Gemoll – are no longer with the team.

This position battle will be a main focus of the coaching staff during Fall Ball.  The Bootleg will certainly be watching closely to see who steps up and if any other players are given an opportunity to show what they can do.

Another apparent position switch has seen Lewis move back to the infield.  A recruited middle infielder out of Southern California, Lewis moved to left field last season where he played everyday.  Now with an abundance of young outfielders (three in the freshman class) and an open spot on the infield (draft departure of Jed Lowrie), a move back to the infield could be in the cards for Lewis.  Lewis spent the first day of individual workouts at second and third base.

Two freshmen – Sean Ratliff and Austin Yount – may be given a chance to see time both on the mound and in the batter's box.  Both were top-flight recruits, with Ratliff earning Colorado State Player of the Year honors and Yount winning the same award, but for Arizona.  Ratliff, a left-hander, dominated at the high school and American Legion levels with both the bat and his arm, and the possibility of continuing with both in college shouldn't be a surprise.  Ratliff is seeing work this first week of practice as an outfielder (and presumably as a pitcher as well).

Yount was much more well-known for his high school work on the mound, but still posted impressive numbers offensively as an infielder.  Yount was seen working out at both second and third base on Tuesday.  The coaching staff will definitely experiment at this time of the year (remember Lowrie seeing plenty of Fall Ball action as a pitcher during his freshman season?), so it will be noteworthy to follow if both Ratliff and/or Yount get an opportunity long-term to both pitch and hit.

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