I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
Baseball season doesn't end with the College World Series. For most players, it continues all summer long. It's here, and the weight room in the fall, that players make their big jumps for next year. So with that in mind, we'll keep an eye on some Michigan players over the course of the summer.
With games starting over the last week, here's an overview of the destinations of Michigan players.
- Wareham Gatemen (Cape Cod) - Derek Dennis and Anthony Toth
- Butler Blue Sox (Prospect) - Ben Ballantine and Matt Broder
- Quincy Gems (Prospect) - John Lorenz
- Richmond RiverRats (Prospect) - Kevin Krantz and Garrett Stephens
- Anchorage Bucs (Alaska) - Coley Crank
- Lake Erie Monarchs (Great Lakes)- Travis Smith
- Lima Locos (Great Lakes) – Logan McAnallen, Cam Luther, and Tyler Mills
- Alexandria Beetles (Northwoods) - Patrick Biondi, Kevin Vangheluwe and Kolby Wood
- Winchester Royals (Valley League) - Kyle Clark
- Michigan Rams (AAABA) - Brandon Sinnery (really?), John DiLaura, and Sam Cleary (incoming freshman)
Not a lot of super interesting notes here. The one that really stands out is Brandon Sinnery pitching for the Rams. Nothing against the Rams, but Brandon seems like he'd be a bigger pick up for ANY other league. The Rams have been home to many of our freshmen who haven't seen playing time, not a guy who is poised to be Michigan's #2. This is a pretty large step down for Sinnery from his stint last summer with the Winchester Royals of the Valley League.
Lima, Alexandria, and Richmond continue to have multiple Wolverines. Coley Crank and John Lorenz both are sticking it out with their clubs from last year. Travis Smith moved from the Texas Collegiate League to the Great Lakes, and hopefully it serves him better. Last summer with the Brazos Valley Bombers was forgettable.
In the marquee division, Michigan sends two to the Cape, both with Wareham (Ryan LaMarre's club last season). Toth and Dennis appear to be working on their double play combos as regular players. Neither has hit very well, both around .285, but sometimes it takes time to get used to the wood bats.
Looking over the returning roster, a few guys I couldn't find.
- Ricky Samuel (P, So)
- Matt Gerbe (P, Sr)
- Bobby Brosnahan (P, Rs So) – Once was listed on Lima Locos roster, no longer.
- Michael Kershner (P, Rs Fr)
- Zach Johnson (C, Rs Fr)
- Ben Paskus (2B, Rs Fr)
Gerbe was in the Valley League last season, but he doesn't appear on any active roster I've been able to find. Brosnahan is also a strange one to be missing. He was with Lima last year. It could be that they're in summer school and will join a team later. As for now, it's unknown.
The other players on that list have yet to make an appearance in a game. Ricky Samuel is supposed to be a major part of the bullpen next season, so I'm somewhat surprised he's not on a roster somewhere.
I'll probably post an update on how seasons are going closer to the start of school, or if I hear about players joining teams late.
Goings. Most of Michigan's players have signed their contracts so far, and there's also been at least one player sign on with an independent league. A breakdown:
- Tyler Burgoon: Everett Aquasox (Short Season Class-A Northwest League)
- Alan Oaks: Gulf Coast League Marlins (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Jupiter, FL)
- Chris Berset: Billings Mustangs (Rookie-level Pioneer League, Billings, MT)
- Matt Miller: Helena Brewers (Rookie-level Pioneer League, Helena, MT)
- Ryan LaMarre: Dayton Dragons (Class A Midwest League, Dayton, OH)
- Mike Dufek: Normal CornBelters (Independent Frontier League, Normal, IL)
To my understanding, all of the MLB draft picks are now currently signed and on their respective rosters (even if Burgoon may not show up on MiLB just yet). Dufek will also try to extend his playing days, by playing in the independent league. He may get lucky and get a free agent type deal to go to the MiLB, he may not. May he be lucky enough to get his wish.
I imagine this is probably it as far as players with a baseball future. Katzman may show up on some independent league roster, but the rest of the seniors might just be done.
In another note, Miller may have a chance to face Berset as early as next week as Helena hosts Billings for a three game set starting Monday June 28. For those of you in exotic Montana, perhaps a trip could be in store for you? I mean, what else are you going to do in Montana? Fight grizzly bears (I'm reminded of a long-lost haloscan thread on the merits of the grizzly bear population in Montana and the political risk of pissing them off.)? No, I thought not.
Comings. With the somewhat unexpected early departure of Matt Miller, and with all of the other juniors that were drafted leaving, Michigan had at least one athlete worth giving a scholarship to, so HELLO Jake Engels. Engels comes to Michigan from Portage Northern High School, where he had quite the career:
Engels went 24-7 while earning three varsity letters at Portage Northern. During his senior campaign, he went 11-3 with a sparkling 0.89 earned-run average and 68 strikeouts to lead the Huskies to a district title. As a sophomore, he went 6-3 and earned All-SMAC honorable mention. In his first season as a letterwinner, Engels went 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA and was tabbed to the All-SMAC Central Division team. Engels also excelled in the classroom, earning honor roll each year and high honors during his senior year.
I have to imagine that Engels has had a scholarship offer in the bag for quite a while now. The Big Ten doesn't allow over signing, which means Engels wasn't allowed to be offered a scholarship until one of the early exiting juniors signed their pro contract. Now that all of them are out, Engels is in. The above picture is Jake and the District Trophy, partially won on his arm.
In terms of Jake's role next season, I wouldn't be surprised to see him redshirt. Pitching is a premium, and with him not being a drafted player, I think it's reasonable to think he won't bolt after three years.
Comings, with more awards. Also on the baseball recruiting front is the recent release of the All-Michigan teams. Michigan baseball recruits Alex Lakatos (previous post here) was the biggest winner, making the All-Michigan Dream team and Division 1 First Team. Lakatos was generally ridiculous on the mound this season, including a no-hitter where he struck out 19. Michigan was also represented with the previously mentioned Jake Engels on the Division 1 First Team and outfielder Zach Fish on the Division 2 First Team.
Fish batted .473 with 12 home runs, nine doubles and four triples. The junior shortstop, committed to the University of Michigan, totaled 61 hits, 60 runs and 57 RBIs, and was walked 31 times (11 intentionally). He also was 27-for-29 in stolen-base attempts, and as a right-handed pitcher finished 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA and six saves.
"I think a lot of (the run-producing stats) don't really fall on me. I think they fall on the guys that were ahead of me (in the order), and at the end of the order, too," said Fish, who was coming off a monster weekend with the Cincinnati-based Midland Redskins, going 12-for-18 with one homer, a triple, three doubles and 10 RBIs.
I'm liking those numbers. He's very likely to make a push into the order next season with LaMarre and Nick Urban both graduating. If he can put up numbers like that, Michigan will be in great shape.
Summer Ball. The summer seasons all kicked off over the last two weeks. Many of Michigan's players are doing pretty well. Garrett Stephens, Patrick Biondi, and Kevin Krantz (back from his broken thumb) have lit up my RSS feed with good news. I'll have a list of everyone's location as soon as I track everyone down.
Kris Frost (finally!) made the trip up to Ann Arbor this weekend, with his family. This was a crucial visit for Michigan, as it was the Frost parents' first time up to Michigan. The whole family got a chance to take in the campus together, and here's what Kris had to say about that experience. First the highlights, then the questions. (This is film from this year's State Championship game. Butler won 48-17. Kris is #4)
TOM: How was the trip?
KRIS: It went fantastic, it really did. I've been up there for camps for the past two seasons, but I've never really gotten to check out the real campus. My family and I went out and looked at everything, it was great. Coach Singletary took us on the tour, and we went out on our own a bit, too. My family and I really loved it. We're all planning on coming back another time before the season starts, this summer.
TOM: Oh wow. You guys are coming back before the season starts, and during the season then?
KRIS: Yeah. The coaches answered a whole lot of questions that we had, just about the general school and everything. They talked about how prestigious the school is, and all that. We really just want to take another look. Every time we go to a school, we go back and try to continue to get that feeling of home. It's been a little harder to get up to Michigan, because it's a little further away than other schools. WIth Michigan, we didn't really get the chance to get up to as much, so we're really trying to make up for that. I'm definitely going to try to make it up to two games during the season, too. I'm not sure the exact date this summer, but my parents are trying to figure that out right now. I believe we might drive to Atlanta, then fly up to Michigan, because it's cheaper. We don't know when, but we're definitely coming up.
TOM: Since your parents had never been to Michigan, what were they expecting, and what did they get out of the visit?
KRIS: They were worried about me being lost in the crowd, because it's such a big school. I was never worried about it, but they were worried I would get lost in the excitement. My mom and dad talked about that, and they said everything was great and more. They saw it wasn't too crowded, and that the attention on the football players is great. The athletes get a lot of attention, so it showed them I wouldn't be on my own. I'd be at a place that I would get taken care of. We all got to see how great the academics are, and how big Michigan is worldwide. They have the most living alumni, except for University of Phoenix, since that's an online program, but that doesn't really count. They were amazed by that, and all the support you get for playing for the University of Michigan. They realized how much opportunity there is in life after football there.
TOM: You got a tour with Coach Singletary you said, did you get a chance to sit down with any other coaches?
KRIS: We had a chance to sit down with Coach Rod(riguez). We talked about how I would fit in at michigan, and that I would have the chance to play receiver. That's always a big plus in my book. It's not all too important where I play, I'd rather play receiver, but that's not going to tell where I go. They've seen me play receiver and linebacker, so that's a plus that they said I would get the chance to try out for both spots. It really exposed me to them, and really made me feel at home.
TOM: What is your relationship like with the coaches?
KRIS: Coach Gibson is recruiting me, but I have a great relationship with Coach Rod, and all the coaches. They're all great guys, they really take care of all the kids there. They really feel like learning is a top priority there, and it's not all about football to them. Obviously we all want to win football games, but there's more than that. I got a lot of feedback from them.
TOM: You've been to Michigan now a few times, how was this visit different for you?
KRIS: Well, like I said, I had never gotten to see the whole campus. I didn't really get to see it at camps. I really got to see everything, and there's a lot more that I'm going to see before the summer's up. It really helped me see different aspects of the school. I actually got to see some of the classrooms, and what those are like. It was great, and it was a great look into the school side of it. It showed me how I would be living, and everything. It showed me how much I enjoy being there, and what it would be like to be a student there. That's what I really look at when I go to schools. Michigan really came off as a great place to live.
TOM: At this point, can you rank or compare this visit to the others?
KRIS: Of course I've taken more visits to Auburn, but I haven't taken visits to my other top schools (LSU, Cal, Clemson). With Auburn, it's pretty close. Michigan is a school that I love a whole lot, and I always have. Auburn has put a lot of work in to recruiting me. Both of those schools seem closely related in how the visits went, and they're almost identical. They don't look the same, but I'm getting a similar feel out of it. When I go to all the other schools, I'll be able to tell you how they all match up.
With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten official and the debate about setting up conference divisions in full swing, now seems like an appropriate time to take a look at Nebraska's historical record against the rest of the conference. All information summarized here was taken from James Howell's database and Stassen.com.
We'll start by considering all-time records:
Nebraska is 74-64-8 all-time against current Big Ten teams, with a 43-21-4 home record and a 4-1 record in neutral site games. However, though Nebraska has an overall winning record against the rest of its new conference, it has losing records against six out of eleven other teams: Indiana(?!), Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue. Of course, the presence of Indiana on that list suggests that the all-time numbers may not be telling us the whole story. Perhaps we should check results more relevant to recent history -- Nebraska's record against the rest of the conference since 1993, the year Penn State's football team began conference play:
|Iowa||2-0||1-0||Home-and-home in 1999-2000|
|Michigan||1-0||1-0||Pitch it to Breaston! Aaargh!|
|MSU||3-0||1-0||1-0||NE won 2003 Alamo Bowl 17-3|
|N'western||1-0||1-0||NE won 2000 Alamo Bowl 66-17|
|PSU||1-1||1-0||Home-and-home in 2002-03|
Since 1993, Nebraska is 8-1 against the Big Ten, and 3-0 in bowl games. Husker fans have to be happy about those numbers. Only that other "newcomer" Penn State has a victory against Nebraska in the Big11Ten era.
Illinois: The most recent history is a home-and-home series in 1985-86. Nebraska ran away with both games, handing out a 52-25 beatdown in 1985, followed by an even uglier 59-14 in 1986. Nebraska hasn't lost to Illinois since 1926, though the two teams did tie in 1953.
Indiana: Has a winning record all-time against Nebraska! However, they haven't played since a pair of home-and-homes in 1975-76-77-78, and Nebraska took all four of those. Indiana's last win came in 1959, against a Huskers squad that finished 4-6.
Iowa: Nebraska's most obvious in-conference rival. The two teams have played 31 times, with Nebraska having by far the better run of the rivalry. Their last meeting was part of a home-and-home series in 1999 and 2000. Nebraska won both games easily, but that's not much of a surprise: Iowa was 1-10 in 1999 and 3-9 in 2000. Nebraska was 12-1 and 10-2, respectively. The teams also played four times between 1979-82, with the Blackshirts winning three of the four.
Michigan: There have been a total of 6 games between the Cornhuskers and the Conquering Heroes, and Michigan proudly holds a 3-2-1 advantage over their newest conference foes. In our first meeting, Nebraska was a sacrifice to Yost's 1905 behemoth, which at that point hadn't lost a game in five years. A rather weaker 5-1-2 Michigan squad tied Nebraska 6-6 in our second meeting in 1911, the Wolverines' first trip to Lincoln. Nebraska visited Ann Arbor again in 1917, where the home team triumphed 20-0. There followed a 45 year break before we met again in 1962, when a terrible Michigan squad lost 13-27 at the Big House. Many blog readers will remember the next faceoff between the two teams: the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. Jim Harbaugh and Jamie Morris led Bo's 1985 team to a 27-23 victory (and a #2 AP final ranking) over a Tom Osbourne team that featured 20 future NFL'ers. Down 14-3 at the half, our heroes stormed back with 24 unanswered points to come away with the victory. As for our most recent meeting... well... Brian put it best: "screw 2005."
Michigan State: Nebraska's first two games against MSU came back before it was called Michigan State. Indeed, James Howell's database doesn't even consider the Michigan Agricultural College to have been a DI-A school. So, it should be expected that Nebraska handily won the first two matches (1914 and 1920). Actually, Nebraska has handily won all five matches between the schools: 50-10 in 1995, 55-14 in 1996, and 17-3 in the 2003 Alamo Bowl.
Minnesota: Another team with a long history against the Huskers, and with a winning record to show for it. But don't let that fool you: Nebraska has won 14 straight against the Gophers, with the two most recent games being 48-0 and 56-0 drubbings in 1989-90. You have to go back to 1960 to find a Minnesota victory; that 8-2 Gopher squad won 26-14 over a Nebraska squad that finished 4-6. For all their history, I suspect Minnesota is not exactly itching to renew this rivalry.
Northwestern: NW and Nebraska have only met 4 times, with Northwestern's lone win coming in 1931. NU won matches in 1902, 1974, and at the Alamo Bowl in 2000.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have only played Nebraska twice, winning back-to-back games in 1955 and 1956.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions have a pretty even history against the Cornhuskers. The only non-bowl-game "neutral site" game in the all-time-records table above was the 1983 Kickoff Classic between NU and PSU -- a 44-7 Nebraska victory. Most recently, the two teams played a home-and-home series in 2002-03, with the home team winning each time.
Purdue: The Boilermakers decisively won the only meeting between the two teams, 28-0, back in 1958.
Wisconsin: For all Bret Bielema's talk of making Nebraska a rival (understandable given his own history), Wisconsin and Nebraska have only played five times, and not at all since 1974. Indiana actually has both a longer and more recent history against Nebraska than Wisconsin does. In the most recent NU-UW battle, a 7-4 Badger team edged out a 9-3 NU squad 21-20 at Camp Randall; Wisconsin had lost in Lincoln the previous year.
Nebraska has played every other Big Ten team at least once, though in some cases, it's been 50+ years since the last meeting. We can say with confidence that the Huskers won't maintain their current 0.889 winning percentage once they're playing in the conference full-time -- OSU and Michigan are only at 0.783 and 0.691 since 1993, respectively. Their 0.534 all-time against the conference would rank 5th out of 12, between Michigan State (0.544) and Minnesota (0.479), and thanks to their history with Minnesota and Iowa, Nebraska has actually already played more games against Big Ten teams than Penn State has (146 vs 136). Altogether, Nebraska is a great get for the Big Ten, and I look forward to seeing how the division alignments shake out.
Ray Ball is an offensive tackle out of Westerville, Ohio. Ray was in Ann Arbor this weekend for camp, but didn't work out. He just wanted to come up, and get a chance to meet the players and coaches, to get a feel for everything. He told me today that he got that and a lot more. Here's a look at his highlight video, and then our conversation:
TOM: How was the trip up to Michigan?
RAY: It was awesome, I really enjoyed myself. I got to look around at the whole campus, and we got to watch some of the camp, and all the players work out. We got a chance to talk with the coaches, which was great. Those coaches are awesome, and really cool to be around; I really liked them. I also got to meet three of the players on the team that will be freshmen this year. I know next time I come up there, we're going to hang out some more, they were really welcoming and nice.
TOM: When will you be coming back for your next visit?
RAY: I'm not sure exactly, but since this one was so fun, it will probably be very soon.
TOM: Ok, so it sounds like this visit might have pushed Michigan further up on your list then?
RAY: Yes, sir. I know the top schools I have on my list are Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and UCLA, but this definitely puts Michigan in a better spot than before.
TOM: Do you know when you're making your final decision yet?
RAY: Either at the beginning of the season, or in the middle. I'm not positive yet.
Valdez Showers is a versatile athlete out of Madison Heights, Michigan, mainly being recruited as a defensive back. Sitting in Michigan's backyard, Valdez has an offer from the Wolverines and just picked up a somewhat surprising offer from Florida. Auburn, Michigan State, and others have offered.
First his junior highlight film:
There's film on him from a 7 on 7 tournament, as well. Here's what Showers had to say.
TOM: Word on the street is that you received an offer from Florida recently?
VALDEZ: Yeah, I went down there on the 16th to visit the school. I camped the next day, and I could tell that the coaches were impressed. When I got home, I talked to one of the coaches, and he offered me a scholarship. They just said that overall I'm a great player, and I would fit well at cornerback for them.
TOM: Is that what most schools are recruiting you for? Cornerback?
VALDEZ: Yeah, that's what pretty much everyone sees me at.
TOM: That's a pretty big offer; how many total do you have now?
VALDEZ: I have a total of around 16 now. I don't have a top list yet, though. I'm going to sit down this week, and see if I can narrow it down.
TOM: There has to be some schools that stick out to you, though, right?
VALDEZ: Yeah, I mean, Florida sticks out because they have great football, and academics. Michigan sticks out, they'll probably be in the top group, too. I have a good connection with the coaches at Michigan, and they're well rounded, too.
TOM: When you say you want to narrow your list down, how are you going to decide who makes the cut? You have some nice offers from Auburn, Cinci, Michigan, and Florida, what's the criteria?
VALDEZ: I'm looking for great academics, great football, and a good coaching staff, of course. I really want to find the school that's the right fit for me, though. So, I'm not sure when I'll decide. I just want to take my time with it, and put it in God's hands.
TOM: With some offers out of state, and across the country, how will distance factor in?
VALDEZ: Distance won't be a factor. I'll just go where ever is best for me. My mom was excited when I got the Florida offer, and she's said that she'll come watch me play where ever I go, so that doesn't matter.
TOM: Were you able to make it back up for the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this weekend?
VALDEZ: Yeah, I went, but my flight got delayed from Florida. I came late to the second day, so I couldn't do a whole lot. I got to talk to a couple coaches from Michigan, and they were telling me to come back up and visit sometime soon. I'm going to try to get back up there pretty soon. I'm not sure when, though.
TOM: Since you're from Michigan, are you friends with any of the other Michigan recruits? Do they try to recruit you?
VALDEZ: I'm friends with Shawn Conway. We met through the 7 on 7's, and became cool through that. He doesn't really try to recruit me, he just tells me to pick the best school for me.
TOM: Describe yourself as an athlete to someone who has never watched film on you.
VALDEZ: I'm a leader on the field, a hard worker, explosive, fast, and I just make plays. I ran the 40 at the Florida camp, and I was timed at a 4.48, and a 4.5. I have a hamstring injury, too, so I know I can run faster than that.