Baseball News And Notes

Preseason practice is fast approaching for the Cardinal Baseball squad. Perhaps the biggest question mark on the team this offseason has been the health of junior shortstop Adam Sorgi. Inside, you'll find all of the latest on Sorgi's recovery, various recruiting tidbits, and other news and notes surrounding Stanford Baseball.

Perhaps the biggest question mark this offseason concerning the Stanford Baseball team is the health of shortstop Adam Sorgi.  An honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection as a sophomore in 2005, Sorgi missed all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right, throwing shoulder.  The surgery was performed last February and the recovery time for this type of injury will often take one full calendar year.  Therefore, having Sorgi available at 100% capacity for the February 2 season-opener has been in doubt.

Fortunately for Sorgi and the Cardinal, a big step forward was taken in the closing weeks of the Fall academic quarter.  During unofficial practices at Sunken Diamond, Sorgi began making throws across the diamond – the first time since his surgery ten months ago.

"His timetable (to throw) was by the end of Thanksgiving break," reports head coach Mark Marquess.  "He came back after Thanksgiving, for a week or two we played a little catch, and he did.  He's fine."

The fact Sorgi has started to make the difficult throw across the infield is a huge positive for Stanford's chances this year – especially during the opening month of the season when the Cardinal will play a host of tough non-conference opponents.  From a hitting and fielding perspective, the biggest hole to fill this year is that of graduated shortstop Chris Minaker (.364, 11 HR, 68 RBI in '06).  Sorgi spent his 2005 season playing third base and was expected to continue at that position last year had he been healthy.  Now that Minaker has graduated, the hope is that Sorgi will return to his natural position of shortstop.  

Sorgi, a redshirt junior, is the top defensive infielder on the club and, if healthy, should provide excellent defense at shortstop.  Meanwhile, he can more than hold his own at the plate.  The Southern California native led the '05 squad in hitting with a .322 batting average to go with solid totals of 17 doubles, three triples, five home runs, and 41 RBI.  Sorgi will likely bat in one of the top two spots in the batting order this season – as he did two years ago.

During the three-week official Fall Ball slate in October, Sorgi's only participation at intrasquad games was as a hitter.  Now, he's beginning to take big steps forward on the throwing side in an attempt to participate fully in practice games when the team resumes their intrasquad schedule in mid-January.

"The thing about Adam is that he knows his body and he knows what he can do," says Marquess.  "He probably could have played last year, but felt that he wanted to get it fixed.  We missed him last year, but I think he's fine.  The only reason I say that is because he says he's fine.  And most of the time he knows his body pretty well. He thinks he's right on course to be ready to go in January."

Sorgi will almost certainly find his name in the starting lineup on opening night when the team takes on national power Cal State Fullerton down in Orange County.  If all goes according to plan and progress continues to be made, Sorgi will get the nod at shortstop.  If he's not ready, it will be because of his throwing arm, and Sorgi will have to start at designated hitter.  Getting him in the lineup though at shortstop will free up someone else at the DH spot in addition to putting an experienced player up the middle – something that is much-needed with the graduation losses of Minaker and second baseman Chris Lewis.

"He did show me that he's able to get it across the diamond and that's huge for us," adds Marquess.  "If he's able to stay healthy, and he says he's fine, then that's a big thing. I would be surprised if he's not playing shortstop the first game."

Marquess has reeled in a commitment from one of the top prep pitchers in the high school class of 2007.  Massachusetts left-handed pitcher Jack McGeary has committed to Stanford and is scheduled to begin his collegiate career next Fall.  McGeary was recently rated as the fifth best high school prospect in the country by Baseball America.  He was also the highest rated left-handed pitcher on the list.  With such a high ranking, McGeary will likely receive first round mention in June, so the recruiting process is still far from over for Marquess and his coaching staff.  But assuming McGeary does end up in the Cardinal and White, it will be a huge lift for the Stanford pitching staff beginning in the 2008 season.

Other Stanford recruits on Baseball America's Top 100 High School Prospect list include right-handed pitcher Drew Storen and first baseman Jonathan Kaskow.  Storen, a native of Brownsburg, Indiana, checked in at #49.  Stanford has not had more than one Top 50 pitching recruit in a class since 2001 (Mark Jecmen and Steve Papazian).  Meanwhile, Kaskow, who hails from Coppell, Texas, resides at #67.  

Zach Jones, one of the top prep catchers in the country, has also given his commitment to Stanford.  A Utah native, Jones was ranked at #147 on a Baseball America Top 300 list last month.  

Other known commitments include: left-handed pitcher Michael DeGroot (Castro Valley, CA), outfielder David Giuliani (Thorofare, NJ), first baseman Mike Marshall (Franklin, TX), first baseman Kellen McColl (Los Altos, CA), right-handed pitcher Alex Pracher (Marlton, NJ), and right-handed pitcher Dan Sandbrink (St. Louis, MO).  Kellen Kiilsgaard, from Auburn, Washington, could also play baseball in addition to work as a quarterback on the football team.  Kiilsgaard is an outfielder.

If Stanford does not lose any recruits to the Major League draft, this figures to be a nationally recognized class.  The Cardinal have not lost a recruit to the pros since 2000.  Starting this year, major league teams will have to sign their draftees by August 15th.

One noticeable missing player from Fall Ball last October was freshman outfielder Toby Gerhart.  A top 50 high school prospect last year on the baseball diamond, Gerhart spent his fall on the gridiron with the Cardinal football squad.  Missing all of Fall practice – in addition to individual workouts the remainder of the academic quarter – shouldn't put Gerhart back according to his head coach.

"I don't think it hurts you, especially if you're competing in another sport," says Marquess.  "I think there's a tradeoff.  There's an element in the fall where you can only play each other.  You can only play so many intrasquad games.  I told Toby the other day, when we start again, no one else is ahead of you because they've been off for three or four weeks.  They lose a little bit of the edge that they may have had."

It's a crowded outfield picture for Stanford this season with returning .300+ hitting starters in right field (Michael Taylor) and center field (Ryan Seawell).  Sophomore Joey August and junior Brendan Domaracki also have some previous starting experience.  Gerhart figures to challenge for the third starting spot.

"He's got tools, he's got power, speed and he's athletic," concludes Marquess.  "I don't think it (missing the Fall) will set him back at all."

Stanford begins their 2007 season on February 2 with a three-game series at Cal State Fullerton.  The Titans reached the College World Series last June losing in their bracket final to North Carolina.  Fullerton lost most of their key players from that club, but do return All-American pitcher Wes Roemer who figures to oppose the Cardinal on opening night.

Two weeks later (February 16-18), Stanford will return to Austin for a match-up with '05 national champion Texas.  The Cardinal had their way with the Longhorns last season taking two-of-three from Texas at Sunken Diamond during the non-conference season before a key 12-8 victory last June in a regional played at Disch-Falk Field.  

Stanford's non-conference home slate includes three-game series' versus Fresno State (February 9-11), Kansas (February 23-25), California (March 2-4), and USC (March 9-11).  Fresno State and Kansas both reached the NCAA Tournament last year.

The Cardinal open their Pac-10 schedule on March 30 with a three-game series versus UCLA at Sunken Diamond.

Official preseason practice for Stanford begins on Friday, January 12.  The team will play approximately 12 intrasquad games during a three-week period before the season-opener.

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