Monday, September 15, 2014

Here and There Bits

Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. We have been at it. The class of 2015 is currently ranked 4th by Perfect Game. I expect at this point to lose 1 maybe 2 to the draft. Still, it is looking fantastic. The class of 2016 is no slouch either. All 5 commits are ranked 275 or higher. I expect more 2016 commits as the fall progresses. And the 2017 class, all 3 of them are highly ranked. Led by Hunter Milligan (LHP) of Arkansas at 7th in the nation. We are already working on the 2018 class with 1 commit.

The current roster is 42. I haven't heard of any major injuries to keep anyone out of practice. Some pitchers may not pitch much this fall bc of former injuries but they should be full speed during the 2015 season.

I will have a rundown of the 2015 team pre-fall to give you an idea what we have. I will try to post them over the next two weeks.

Of course, when recruits do come for a visit this fall, they will see the video of the new stadium. It will be the #1 college baseball stadium in the country. How can you not play for us? Anyway. It wouldn't surprise me at all we break ground next summer.

Again, on recruiting, we have expanded our reach into these big travel teams and into California. We will be getting some top notch talent in the coming years. Yes, we will get bit by the MLB draft but we will keep our share. We kept 2 highly drafted players before and look what happened....Clark and Palmerio.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Proposed New Dudy Noble Stadium

The plans for the new stadium are fantastic. The new entrance in upper right field is a great idea. That space is dead right now. Fans entering can flow into the chairback seats to the left or take a right into the LFL. The old entrance into LFL looks like a service entrance. And of course, having a ring of honor whatever that will entail is a terrific idea. We need to show our former players and our past championships as you walk in.

I love the grandstand. For one, no cement. The new grandstand will be there forever, just like Chicago Cubs, etc. A great idea. We need to have as much seating around home plate as possible and it seems to do that. The green areas at the end are a nice touch too. Get a blanket and watch with your kids rolling in the grass.

One big tradition will have to go and we have to live with it. Bringing in the LFL rigs will be no more. But at least you can claim the space as your own and put whatever you want there. I am sure it will be build with storage spaces, etc. The only problem I can think of is some rigs are built higher than others so they can see more. Maybe the new space will be such.

I do love the LF Lofts. We need to be different. Those spaces if empty can be for recruits family's or a players family to stay in for the weekend. What a recruiting tool.

I love the fact that it resembles a MLB park. That is what these kids strive for anyway. The bullpens won't be as secure, someone will have to catch the foul balls. But once the grandstand is built, it will last more than 30 years.

We have all complained about the congested concession stand during big crowds and regionals. We don't see this in the demo but rest assured it will be bigger and better. Plus they will have plenty of TV's to watch the action.

We fans will finally have a ballpark to match our passion for the school we love, the sport we love and the tradition we love.

Finally, there will be no doubt we will have a recruiting advantage with this new park. We should be much better as a team in the coming years. It will only be better from here on out.

Friday, June 27, 2014

2010 Signing Class Recap

Recap of what happened to the signees:

Ethan Bright--1B--transferred before spring
Kolby Byrd--C--transferred after redshirt
Luke Bole--LHP--transferred after 1 year
Matt Lane--LHP--transferred after 1 year
Runey Davis--OF--signed pro out of JC
Carlos Leal--C--walk on transferred after fall
Jared Miller--RHP--transferred after fall
Corey Collins--RHP--transferred after 1 year

Chris Stratton--RHP--great career--pro ball
Kendall Graveman--RHP--great career--pro ball
Trey Johnson--OF--played some--coaching
Ben Bracewell--RHP--great career--?
Wes Thigpen--C--solid player--pro ball--coaching
C C Watson--LHP--injured--medical
Jaron Shepherd--OF--great career--pro ball
Nick Vickerson--Utl--great career--pro ball
Jonathan Ogden--SS--great career--pro ball--coaching
Sam Frost--Utl--great career--?
Chad Girodo--LHP--great career--pro ball
Michael Dixon--RHP--injured--medical

Might have 4 major leaguers out of this group.  Stratton, Graveman, Vickerson and Girodo.

You can see almost half of signees transfer. This goes for most classes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Recruiting

This is a post I will continually update. John Cohen has built a winner. He had to establish himself the first two years, then the recruiting started to pick up. I feel every year we are getting potential 1st round draft picks. Which means a Reid Humphreys and Gavin Collins will by their Junior years become a 1st rounder. I say this because those type of players make the difference between champions or not.

Each year a player gets adjusted to the speed of the game and/or makes adjustments to his game. They get better.

We signed the 2nd ranked recruiting class last November and now they are adjusting. We will see the benefits of that in 2015 and 2016. The 2014 class lost two big recruits. Chase Vallot and Dale Burdick chose MLB. Those are the type of players we need to go after each year. You win some and you lose some. Ron Polk won some (Clark and Palmeiro). The 2014 class now have 7 freshmen and 7 JC guys. I do foresee getting at least one more MIF or OF.

Starting July 1st, we will be going after the 2015 guys. We already have 10 commits. We have raked the state of Mississippi for the best players. We also have the best LHP group.

College baseball is a never ending recruiting machine. We go after 9th graders if they are good enough. Usually though, we go after the 10th graders. I expect a lot of commitments between now and November for 2015, 2016, 2017 classes.

If you have any inside info on a recruit, let me know! I don't tweet anything out unless it is verified. It is very hard to get any info on college baseball recruiting compared to football in which you know everything.

2015 Preview: How will we do in 2015?

We have 26 non-conference games each year and without looking at the schedule, our goal should be to win 20 each year. We were 17-8 in 2014 with one snow out. If we win 3 more, play the make up and win (4), that may have tipped the scale toward us hosting a regional. See how important those games are?

We have 30 conference games and without looking at the teams we play, I think we can win half of them.

We will make the SECT and if we can have around 35 wins that will put us back into a regional. When we make a regional anything can happen. I don't see us as a Omaha contender right now or in February. If the young players perform well and some stars arise (all-star type players) then that may change. I foresee the 2016 team as a serious Omaha contender. But for 2015 season, I would think we get to a regional and a super regional. I predicted nothing past a super for 2014 and was in the ballpark.

This is college (of course), so new players arrive all the time and old ones graduate or leave. A new team is born. We have lots of questions and lots of holes to fill. This is why fall baseball is very important and very exciting.

Defense:

A John Cohen team will always be good on defense. It is his mantra.  As of right now, the infield of Britton-3B, Heck and Holland-MIF and Rea at 1B, I see no drop off from the end of 2014. We will be a very solid defense with a smattering of spectacular plays in between.

The outfield heading into July is a big question. Bradford in CF over the years made solid defensive plays. Henderson in RF made tough plays easy. I have as of right now, Cody Brown-LF, Vickerson-CF and Swinarski-RF. Brown and Vickerson showed solid defense in 2014 but someone has to play CF and it seems it is either Brown or Vickerson. Redshirt Freshman Joey Swinarski is new. He should be a true freshman this year but graduated early from HS. He has a ton of talent. Jacob Robson was injured in 2014, so don't forget about him.

Our starting catcher Gavin Collins should be much, much improved from 2014. The problem is backup. We need to find a good backup.

Offense:

The sticking point with us fans from 2014. College baseball is getting a new ball this year. One that with lower seams should benefit the hitter. Our #2 ranked 2014 recruiting class will be one year older and we will see them in 2015. Humphreys, Collins and Swinarski are the big bats. New comer Holland comes with great hitting credentials. Can Britton become a better hitter in his 4th year? Can Rea get it going in his senior year? Can Kyle Hann and Robson come back from injury and give us offense? Can Daniel Garner do the same?

Our offense is the big question.

Pitching:

Simple fact: we need 3 stud starting pitchers. We need those 3 to give us 90 plus innings each. We have lots of candidates. My wish list to choose from: Trevor Fitts, Preston Brown, Paul Young, Austin Sexton, Dakota Hudson, Vance Tatum. I would love for it to be Hudson, Young and Brown. That would free up Mitchell and Laster for middle relief.  I am very, very excited about the LHP staff. We have more than usual and they have talent. I think the staff will be better than it was in 2014.


Overall:

Heading into 2015, I think defense and pitching will be fine. We have plenty of candidates on the pitching staff. These guys will compete and the rotation should take shape by November. Hitting is the biggest question heading into fall.

2015 Preview: (Way too early) Lineup

1--Michael Smith, Junior-JC Transfer  CF
2--John Holland, Junior-JC Transfer  MIF
3--Reid Humphreys, Sophomore  DH
4--Gavin Collins, Sophomore  C
5--Seth Heck, Senior  MIF
6--Wes Rea, Senior RS  1B
7--Cody Brown, Sophomore RS  RF
8--Matthew Britton, Senior  3B
9--Jake Vickerson, Senior  LF

*Of course, I will update this on a continuous basis..




Friday, June 20, 2014

2015 Preview: Schedule

This hasn't been released yet but I have gleaned some teams and dates. I have heard we will open with Cincinnati but don't know for sure. We do have Arizona coming in late February probably with another team to make it a small tournament.

The biggest preseason games that I know about will be the Houston College Classic at MinuteMaid park. We play Baylor, Houston and Nebraska. Dates are March 6-8, 2015. That is set in stone because they invite teams and post it in advance. Just like the Dodgertown Classic in 2016, we will be going to.

I think we will continue to play the local good teams, Memphis, South Alabama, etc.

For the SEC schedule, I do know we play LSU at home the first weekend in May. The SEC schedule should be released in early fall.

I would think we will play non-conference teams with fairly low RPI's since that hurt us this year.