In its opening series Vanderbilt will face a team with some of the most impressive bats in the country. However, the Commodores' biggest challenge may be potential first round pitcher Mark Appel and lefty Brett Mooneyham (photo at below/right) who has reemerged after missing the 20111 season.
Starting for the Cardinals Friday night is junior RHP Appel (6-7, 3.02) who had 86 strikeouts and 29 walks in 2011. The righty is a consensus top pick across various draft boards everywhere. Appell pitched for Team USA then spent his summer in the Cape Cod League at Yarmouth-Dennis where he earned a 2.48 ERA with 36 strikeouts and five walks. In nine innings with Team USA he struck out 11 and walked two. He pitched spectacularly in support, not allowing a run in four relief showings.
Saturday Vandy's celebrated freshman freshmen Tyler Beede will face off with Brett Mooneyham (9-10, 4.67 career) who was a two-year weekend starter before a finger injury kept him out of the 2011 season. Mooneyham was a two-year starter who had a sensational freshmen season in 2009 earning Collegiate Baseball Freshmen All-American honors after finishing the year at 6-3 with a 4.14 ERA.
Friday, 7:30 p.m. CT
VU LHP Kevin Ziomek (0-0) vs. SU RHP Mark Appel (0-0)
Saturday, 3 p.m. CT
VU RHP Tyler Beede (0-0) vs. SU LHP Brett Mooneyham (0-0)
Sunday, 3 p.m. CT
VU LHP Sam Selman (0-0) vs. SU RHP Dean McArdle (0-0) OR
SU RHP A.J. Vanegas (0-0)
Sophomore first basemen Brian Ragira was a first team freshman All-American by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America in 2011. Hitting .329 with 31 runs, he led the team with 46 RBIs. Ragira also played on Team USA this summer, going 2-for-9 and scoring two runs.
Projected behind home plate is freshman Wayne Taylor who was drafted in the 14th round by the Angels in the 2011 draft. Last season Taylor was the Texas Prep Baseball Player of the Year. Despite missing half of his senior baseball season with a back injury, he still hit .476 with 17 home runs in 25 games. Also with first round draft potential
is infielder Kenny Diekroeger who was drafted in the second round in 2009. Diekroeger will be starting for his third consecutive year for the Cardinal. After a stellar freshmen year batting .356, he slumped a bit in his sophomore year hitting just .293. Kenny also racked up four hits against the 'Dores in 2011.
Lonnie Kauppila had an outstanding fielding percentage at .992 and batted .298 with home runs and 25 RBIs while starting at second base in all but two games in 2011. During the summer Kauppila played in the Alaska Summer League hitting .291 with 11 home runs and six RBIs. In the second game against Vandy last year Kauppila went 2-for-3.
Stephen Piscotty topped the Cape Cod League in batting, hitting .349 with 20 runs, 21 RBIs and three home runs over the summer. Piscotty, who is likely an early first round pick, has a .345 career average at Stanford with 80 runs scored and 76 RBIs. He earned first team All-Pac-10 as a sophomore when he hit .364 with 35 runs and 40 RBIs.
The Cardinal outfield returns all three starters in junior Tyler Gaffney (LF), junior Jake Stewart (CF), and sophomore Austin Wilson (RF).
As a freshman, Wilson had a 12-game hit streak and batted .311 with 25 runs and 30 RBIs. Over the summer he played for the Cape Cod League champion Harwich Mariner, batting .204 with 11 runs and 13 RBIs.
Gaffney is a speedster and batted .327 in 107 games as a Cardinal, switching between right and left field. He will enter the 2012 season on a 22-game hit streak. Played backup running back for Stanford who won the Orange Bowl, averaged 4.2 (ypc.) with four touchdowns. He had two hits and a walk against Vandy in the Saturday game last year.
After batting .209 as a freshman, Stewart brought his average up to .287 in 2011. He played for Orleans in the Cape Cod League where he hit .210 with 12 runs and eight RBIs. Stewart had three hits in the Saturday game against Vandy last year. A threat to run, Stewart was 8-of-10 in stolen base attempts.