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.

2015 Preview: Right Handed Pitchers

Trevor Fitts, Senior: A solid starter the last 2 years. Can he do it again his senior year? Can he pitch longer in games?
Will Cox, Senior: Cox will be a senior unless they redshirt him after he hurt his arm this past spring. A relief specialist who throws sidearm. We need this veteran to come back strong.
Preston Brown, Junior RS: He had a couple of really good starts before shoulder soreness sidelined him. Hopefully, he will be healthy and ready to go in the fall. Will compete for a weekend starting spot.
Ben Hudspeth, Junior RS: Redshirted after transferring from JC. Will compete for a reliever role.
Myles Gentry, Junior: A side armer who can induce ground balls with the best of them. Will compete for fire man role and maybe closer. (Fireman role-someone comes in and puts out a big inning by the other team)
John Marc Shelly, Sophomore RS: Another one that got hurt this past spring. Will compete for fireman role and closer this next year.
Paul Young, Sophomore RS: The one guy I though could be a difference maker in 2014. Never fully recovered from JC ball in which he pitched a lot in the playoffs. Had Tommy John surgery in March. Hope to get him back fully healthy by spring. He is an impact player when healthy.
Austin Sexton, Sophomore: Got his feet wet this past spring. Did show flashes of dominance. He will compete for starting role this spring, either mid-week or weekend.
Dakota Hudson, Sophomore: Big guy with a big arm. Again showed flashes of dominance. Should win a SEC spot on the weekends.
Zac Houston, Sophomore: Came in late in games and did well. Just needs experience and seasoning. Could be in line for a closer role next spring. He is 6-5 230ish.
Avery Geyer, Freshman RS: A small in stature guy but can put it low in the zone for strikeouts and ground balls. He will compete for time in the bullpen.
Jacob Billingsley, Freshman RS: He throws hard and has a wipeout breaking pitch. In line to come out of the bullpen possibly in the closer role in 2015.
Levi Mintz, Freshman RS: He will compete for starter and reliever role.

2014 Lossess: Ben Bracewell, Brandon Woodruff, Jonathan Holder

Signees

Cole Barlow, Junior-JC Transfer: Seasoned veteran that pitches side arm. Will compete for reliever and closer roles.
Logan Elliot, Sophomore-JC Transfer: Another side armer. Was a closer and reliever in JC. Throws harder than "normal" sidearmers. I can't wait to see him pitch.
Aaron Dominguez, Freshman: From California. I can't wait to see him pitch too.
Jesse McCord, Freshman: Was a star pitcher in HS Alabama ranks. His older brother pitched at Auburn. Should see him in spots next spring.
Cole Gordon, Freshman: Also plays 1B and corner OF. Bats left but pitches right.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

2015 Preview: Left Handed Pitchers

Ross Mitchell, Senior RS: He has done it all, relief and starting. Has been extremely effective in either role. I hope he goes back to being a middle reliever, coming in 2 or 3 times a weekend to put an end to a rally by the other team. He is so effective doing this.
Lucas Laster, Senior: Boy, came on strong at the end of the season. Was in the School of Butch for the first 2 months of the season and graduated with honors. I believe he just started and not relieved his first year out of JC. Will have a chance to start in 2015 but I would think middle reliever.
Vance Tatum, Sophomore: Really showed flashes in 2014. I think he will have a large impact in 2015 in both roles, start and relief.
Glenn Irby, Freshman RS: I really haven't seen him pitch, so I don't know much. We shall see what he does in the fall. Older brother did play at Samford and now in pro baseball as a pitcher.

2014 Losses: Jacob Lindgren

Signees

Trent Waddell, Junior-JC Transfer: Coached in JC by former player Jarrod Parks who gave Waddell high praise as a hitter and pitcher. Didn't pitch much in 2014 because of arm issues but is supposed to be healthy for the fall. Could be a diamond in the rough.
Daniel Brown, Sophomore-JC Transfer: Finally, after all these years the coaches have signed a Jon Hardin clone. A small, crafty lefty that strikes out a lot of batters. He will be the first one out of pen when there is trouble.
Paxton Stover, Freshman: I think he had 2 or 3 no hitters his senior year. Another small in stature lefty that carves up hitters. Looking forward to seeing him in the fall.
Andrew Mahoney, Freshman: Speaking of diamonds in the rough. Mahoney sat out his senior year because of Tommy John surgery. But is healthy now and is ready to go.A big kid that throws hard from the left side.
Taylor Stafford, Freshman: Plays OF also. Threw hard during his HS run in the postseason. I really don't know which position he is better at. Maybe a CT Bradford clone.

*I am pumped about this position. First time in John Cohen/Butch Thompson era that we have this many LHP's. And let me tell you, this will make a great impression in 2015. We have 9 LHP's, double the usual amount. And from now on, we will have that many. LHP's make a distinct difference in ballgames.