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Joeywa's 2015 UT Baseball Series-by-Series Preview (Non-Conference Slate)


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Zane Gurwitz-Image Credit: University of Texas Athletics

 

 

With less than a week before the first pitch at Reckling, I wanted to give you some of my thoughts on this team and how I see us matching up with our non-conference foes.

 

A few disclaimers and thoughts before I begin. 

 

  1. I am a Texas alum, first and foremost.  I am a fan.  I won't hide this.  That said, I really do try to remain somewhat realistic throughout the season. 
  2. I don't want to get caught up in the "fire the coach," "small ball sucks,"  and/or "so-and-so can't play X position on this team/at this level."  Leave that for other sites.
  3. I am neither a professional journalist nor former professional athlete/coach.  I just try to "call 'em like I see 'em."
  4. Much to my displeasure, I am not able to attend a lot of UT baseball games in person.  I do try to get down to one series in Austin, and one West Coast series if time allows.  Otherwise, I am a follower like many of you, via LHN and radio broadcasts.
  5. My style, (if you will,) of calling a game is pretty straight forward.  I do Play by Play, sometimes with a bit of color injected for good measure.  I will recap an entire inning from start to finish, so I may not be following as closely to "Live" as you'd like.  If an inning runs long, there's a good chance I'll post what I have and continue in the next post. 
  6. I do this because I enjoy it.  Bottom line.  I would like to think of myself as a "Teddy" starter kit.  Teddy is the announcer from Bull Durham.  Although that is probably far too much self praise.  Ha!
  7. If there is something you'd like for me to do differently, look into, answer, please feel free to ask.  I'll try to get it done/answered for you. 
  8. Sit back and enjoy 2015, as we're about to get rolling.

 

 

Non-conference preview

 

First, let's take a look at our non-conference slate with dates.

 

Fri. 2/13   @ Rice 6 PM CBSi stream

Sat. 2/14  @ Rice DH Noon & 4 PM CBSi stream

Sun. 2/15 @ Rice 1 PM CBSi stream

 

Tue. 2/17 UTSA DFF 6 PM LHN

 

Fri. 2/20   Minnesota 6 PM LHN

Sat. 2/21  Minnesota DH 3 PM & 6 PM LHN

Sun. 2/22 Minnesota 1 PM LHN

 

Tue. 2/24 UT Pan American 6 PM LHN

 

Fri. 2/27  San Diego 7:30 PM LHN

Sat. 2/28 San Diego 6:30 PM LHN

Sun. 3/1  San Diego 1 PM LHN

 

Thu. 3/5  @ Stanford 6 PM

Fri. 3/6   @ Stanford 6 PM

Sat. 3/7  @ Stanford 2 PM

Sun. 3/8 @ Stanford 1 PM

 

Tue. 3/10 Incarnate Word 6 PM LHN

 

Tue. 3/17 @ UT Arlington 7 PM

 

Tue. 3/24 @ Texas State 6 PM

 

Fri. 3/27   @ Nebraska 6:35 PM

Sat. 3/28  @ Nebraska 2:05 PM

Sun. 3/29 @ Nebraska 12:05 PM

 

Tue. 3/31 TAMU Corpus Christi 6 PM LHN

 

Tue. 4/7 Wichita St. 7 PM LHN

 

Tue. 4/14 Sam Houston State 6 PM LHN

 

Tue. 4/21 Texas State 6 PM LHN

 

Tue. 4/28 Prairie View A&M 6 PM LHN

 

 

I won't spend much time on the mid-week single game sets, but suffice it to say, I feel Texas wins 9 of 10 of these mid-week match-ups. 

These games, (as has historically been the case,) will be a time for Augie and Skip to take a look at some younger players and test out some of our non-weekend pitchers, and build depth with live-game experience. 

 

Rice: UT wins 3 of 4

 

Head coach Wayne Graham is going to have his Owls ready.  They have won Conference USA 19 times in his 22 years as their skipper.  They come into the season ranked anywhere from 13-16 on the national scene.

Traditionally a tough pitching team, this year will be no different.  They'll like go with Jr lefty Blake Fox on Friday night.  He was undefeated last year, posting a 12-0 record and an impressive 1.46 ERA.  We will likely see Soph Jon Duplantier  (EDIT: Not sure what Rice will do now that Duplantier is out, prob committee for both SA games,)  Jr Kevin McCanna on Sunday, with a committee approach on Sat in the second game.  Their Jr stud Jordan Stephens will be a factor later in the season, but he's still working his way back from TJ surgery.  Their closer is Matt Ditman and they have a solid bullpen with Trevor Teykl, Blake Fox and Josh Pettitte, (although Pettitte is also waiting to be cleared following TJ surgery.) 

Rice has lost a couple of good sticks in Hoelscher, Aquino and Ewing, but they have faith in their catching duo of John Clay Reeves and Hunter Kopycinski.  In a situation similar to UT's, (Cantu/Barrera,) these two will likely split duties behind the dish and at DH.  Juniors 1B Connor Teykl and SS Leon Byrd provide some solid sticks.  While Rice is in somewhat of a rebuilding year, they certainly are the favorite to win CUSA and challenge for a trip to Omaha.  Much will depend on the emergence of a young lineup and production at the plate. 

With their first test out of the gate being against the Horns, it won't be easy for the Owls. 

I see Texas as being able to win 3 of 4 in Reckling to start off the season, provided we get some of the offense I anticipate. 

 

Texas has announced that their starting rotation will likely be:

FR: French

SA: Clemens

SA: Sawyer

SU: Hollingsworth

Closer: Johnston

 

You'll also see the following lineup, although there may be some tweaks as the weekend moves along.

8 Gurwitz
9 Shaw

6 C.J.
4 Marlow
2 Tres
5 Boswell
7 Johnson
DH Stell, McCann, Mathis or Cantu (This will probably be by committee for a while)
3 Jones

 

 

Minnesota: UT wins 4 of 4

 

Minnesota will be the complete opposite of Rice.  The Golden Gophers will come to Austin not being ranked in the Top 25 preseason polls, and have not been given much of a chance to compete for the Big10 title or post season appearance.  They are very thin at pitcher, returning two seniors RHPs, Kunik (2-2, 2.84) and Meyer (4-5, 2.39,) but after that is a mystery.  They have a couple of freshmen in Meyer (RHP) and Gilbreath, (LHP) that they'll look to for innings.  To say they're not long on arms is a huge understatement. 

At the plate is a similar story.  They have no player with more than 100 ABs over a .300 AVG.  The bright spot at the plate for them is Sr. Skjefte and Jr. Handel, who both have shown flashes of power last season.  While I have followed baseball for many years, and know there are no gimmes, this series, more than any other non-conference series this year, shapes up to be the easiest one we will see. 

 

San Diego: UT wins 3 of 3
 

USD enters this season picked to finish 3rd in the West Coast Conference behind Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.  While not ranked in the top 25, they do come in respectable at 30-34, depending upon the poll and are listed as 'a team to watch' as the season plays out.  Coach Rich Hill usually has a fundamentally solid ball club.

They lost three top players to the MLB draft, but they reloaded with 6 players also drafted in June who chose to go to USD instead of the MLB route.  

Pitching is a strong point for the Toreros.  They have 3 JUCO transfers, twin brothers David (RHP) and Jacob Hill (LHP) who will likely be the Friday and Sunday starters.  They will probably bookend RHP Gary Cornish-19th rd selection of the LA Dodgers.  Also look to see Mets prospect Jon Teaney and Cubs draftee Riley Adams on the bump at some point. 

At the plate USD has some power with Austin Bailey and Jesse Jenner; both .325-plus hitters on the season in 2014. Freshman Bryson Brigman also has some good pop in his bat. 

Defensively keep an eye on Kyle Holder, one of the better SS on the west coast that doesn't get much pub. 

USD should be a formidable challenge for Texas, but if things go as I think they will, I see us taking the series from them, especially at home. 

 

Stanford: UT wins 2 of 4

 

I got to tell you, I'm really looking forward to this series.  I really enjoy our west coast visits.  It is always a good time. 

Stanford comes into the season off of their post-season win of the Bloomington Regional with a surprise victory over heavy-favorite host Indiana.  And guess who the Cardinal opens up with in 2015?  Yep.  Indiana next Friday in Palo Alto.  Oh, and that's not all. 

By the time Texas arrives in the Bay area, Stanford will have hosted Indiana (3 games,) single games against Cal and Nevada, and traveled to Fullerton (3 games) and Rice (3 games) and one at San Jose St for good measure.  They will be locked and loaded for the Horns. 

Stanford returns their entire arsenal of starting pitching from 2014.  All American candidate, RHP Soph Cal Quantrill is a stud.  We will probably see him on Thursday.  Other RHPs are Hanewich, and newcomer Weisenberg who hits 95 on the gun.  Two LHPs in James and Hochstatter will also likely see starts for Stanford.  Their bullpen is absolutely loaded with the leaders being Jr. RHP Brakeman and RHP Viall. 

The question mark for the Cardinal will be finding out who is going to fill the shoes of Blandino, Diekroeger, Taylor and Slater.  Those four accounted for a combined .307 AVG and 259 hits in 2014. To put that in perspective, that was almost 47% of their entire offensive production.  Numbers like those are very hard to replace overnight.

OF Zach Hoffpauir is a big stick returning, (.324, 35 RBIs, 7 HRs in '14,) as is 2B Tommy Edman, (.256)  Jr. Austin Barr, (local kid from Camas, WA-Hey now!) is slated for a breakout year.  I'm not sure if he will see time at C or 1B, but he's got the potential to be a very productive offensive weapon for Stanford. 

By the time we see them in March, I fully expect that they will be firing on all cylinders.  On the plus side, I think we will too.  This will be an excellent test for the Horns before heading into conference play.  I say we split this series, but I honestly would not be surprised to see us take 3 of 4 if we limit mistakes and our pitching is solid. 

 

Nebraska: UT wins 2 of 3

 

Huskers come into the season ranked 23-26, depending on the poll.  They are penciled in as the #2 team in the Big10, and could easily see postseason action. 

Pitching is their strong suit.  They have preseason All American Sr. RHP Chance Sinclair.  He went 9-1 last season with a 2.15 ERA.  He is their ace.  I'd assume we would see him on Friday in a match-up with French.  Another Sr., LHP Kyle Kubat brings starting experience to the hill.  While Darin Erstad hasn't named a 3rd starter yet, it looks to be between Soph LHP Max Knutson and RHP Jake Hohensee.  We will know more by the time we see them at the end of March.  Their closer is Sr. RHP Josh Roeder.  He needs just 14 saves to become Nebraska's all-time saves leader. 

Offensively the Huskers lost two key bats, RBI-leaders and .300 hitters Pritchard and Kelly.  Keep an eye on Fr. 1B Scott Schreiber to fill some of the void.  Soph OF Ryan Boldt will be a key to their offense if he stays as effective in the leadoff spot as he was in '14, hitting .311.  

Nebraska will not play a home game until mid March, and has matchups against WCC favorite Loyola Marymount, Houston College Classic vs ags, Hawai'i and LSU, Michigan and Top 20 Cal St. Fullerton before Texas comes to town. 

 

************************************************

 

Quick Joeywa Recap

 

I see Texas' non-conference record at 23-5. 

 

I will be happy with 20-8.

 

Understand, I have not seen a single inning of baseball from any of these squads, but that's my bold prediction with 5 days to go before the first pitch. 

 

What do you think?

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An excellent "tune up" read.

 

Good stuff my friend.

 

What is an SA v SU?

 

Thanks Chuck.

 

SA=Saturday

SU=Sunday

 

I'm guessing you're referencing the meaning as it pertains to our pitching staff.  Since there is a double-header on Saturday, there are two Ps listed for SA. 

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I don't think this will impact my prediction, but Rice's SA starter, Soph RHP Jon Duplantier is currently listed as doubtful for the Texas series. 

 

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Pretty ambitious Joey. Hope you're going Nostradamus and not Nostradumbass on us.

 

3-1 at Reckling will be a helluva start.

 

I've been known to toe the line that separates the two from time to time.  ;)

 

I am pretty confident in our ballclub this year.  I believe we have more a more complete team than we've had in recent years. 

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very optimistic prediction, i must say.  i like it, but i'll be surprised if we have that record going into conference.  the last couple of years have beat me into submission.  i sure hope you're right.  if we have that record we'll be top five in the country at that point i'd imagine.   i think we'll be more like your latter prediction than your former, but i'll sure hope for the former.

 

anxious to see what the impact of the new ball is this year.  hopeful i don't have to go down there and personally pull the fences in.  i'll probably get arrested if i do that, but it'd be worth it.

 

i grew up watching minnesota come thru here every year to start their season.  they eventually quit because they got tired of starting every season 0-4.  

 

i saw dave winfield play for them though and saw him hit the hardest ball ive ever seen hit. ever.   line drive rope to left that broke a board in the left field fence at old clark field that i'll swear never got more than 20 feet off the ground.  he was a man among boys.  

 

good writeup, joey.

 

got my tickets today.  slight change in location from last year.  section 106, row 12, smack in the middle.  directly behind the ump which will improve my already stellar critique of tim henderson's balls and strikes calls.

 

 

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Joey who do you think ends up being the 3 starters at the end of the year?

Barring injury, French, Hollingsworth and Sawyer. Johnston closing. Duke, Clemens, etc out of the pen. Let me sit down and look again tonight but that's my thought off the top of my head. French is a wild card, because he has expressed a desire to close, so I'm not 100% on how that plays out. It will take a while to see it evolve. Skip is an extremely smart guy with his pitchers. Guarantee ya he has a master plan in place.
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Oh, I'd pay good money to see that! :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

Me too but I guarantee our Slim would get y his money's worth.

 

as an aside, I learned a long time ago not to get on those guys to much because it really isn't going to do any good, but that son of a buck is the worst ball and strike umpire in the world, I would scratch him from a 2a game in Tahoka, why John Bible still works him I have no clue.

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02.09.2015
2015 Big 12 Baseball Telecast Schedule Announced
Texas to be featured three times

 

Irving, Texas - The Big 12 Conference along with the league's television partners, FOX and ESPN, have announced the Conference's telecast schedule for the 2015 Big 12 baseball season.

Seven regular season contests will feature all nine of the league's squads, while the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship will be shown in its entirety, including a national telecast of the final on Fox Sports 1. For the third year in a row, all contests leading up to Sunday's championship game will be televised on FOX College Sports (FCS) with the finale set for Noon CT on FOX Sports 1.

FOX will carry five regular season games between FS1 and FOX Sports Regional Networks starting with the series finale of West Virginia at Texas on Sunday, March 15.

Texas will be featured three times total with a pair of ESPNU telecasts for its road series at Oklahoma state as both Saturday, April 4, and Sunday, April 5, games will be carried on ESPNU.

Longhorn Network is set to air all 28 of Texas' home games outside of the March 15 contest vs. West Virginia.

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