TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
The Michigan baseball team continues to be involved in close ball games, losing a 3-2 game to Iowa yesterday (see recap) before beating the Hawkeyes 4-2 today (recap). Out of the 27 games they've played, 19 have been decided by two runs or fewer. Today's win improved their overall record to 11-15-1 and their Big Ten record to 2-3.
Today's game was highlighted by another terrific catch by freshman right fielder Jackson Lamb (see this thread for a look at the one from last weekend):
Lamb's latest defensive gem occurred in the ninth inning, after the Wolverines had rallied in the bottom of the eighth with three runs to take a 4-2 lead. Freshman Trey Miller came through that inning with a two-out, two-run single, recording his first career hit in the process.
Jacob Cronenworth (2-0) ended up getting the win, although he had shifted to the mound in the eighth when Michigan held a 1-0 lead, looking to pick up a two-inning save and then promptly gave up two runs. He nevertheless has now pitched in seven games and been credited with two wins and five saves.
Evan Hill had a good start today, going 5.2 innings and not allowing a run. He was taken out after being hit on the leg by a line drive.
Michigan and Iowa play the rubber match of their series tomorrow at 1 pm at Ray Fisher Stadium.
BedfordNow.com reports that Michigan baseball signee Jackson Lamb turned down a third-round MLB draft offer and will likely become a Wolverine, rather than turning pro.
[Steve] Lamb [Jackson's father] said the family came up with a monetary figure that it would take for Jackson to turn down his Michigan scholarship.
"They didn't quite reach it," Mr. Lamb said.
Lamb may still be picked in a later round, but he'll be unlikely to sign. So far, through late in round 7, his name hasn't been called.
This is great news for the Michigan baseball program.
In the meantime, Michael O'Neill was picked late in the 3rd round by the Yankees with pick #103. A fitting development as he's the nephew of Paul O'Neill.
EDIT: Based on the tweet I posted in a reply, he's definitely coming to Michigan!
The Gatorade State Baseball Players of the Year were announced today, with 2013 Michigan signee Jackson Lamb of Temperance Bedford tabbed as the pick for the state of Michigan. A reminder on the criteria for the Gatorade POY awards:
The winners were selected based on athletic production and impact in the 2013 season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership.
His "credentials" page gives his stats as: "batting .519 with four home runs, 34 RBI and an .802 slugging percentage. . . . he also posted a 5-0 record on the mound with a 1.48 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 33 innings." And it also notes his 3.61 GPA and his community activities. Here's the featured quote of praise:
“Jackson Lamb is one of the finest talents I have seen in many years,” said Scott Thiesen, president of the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association. “Offensively, he is a pure hitter with speed and great power. Defensively, he is an excellent centerfielder who can make a difficult play look easy.”
Previous winners of this award for the state of Michigan include Patrick Biondi, Zach Putnam, Drew Henson, J.J. Putz, and Derek Jeter.
The early signing period came and went without Michigan issuing a press release on the signees; they perhaps will do so following the regular signing period in the spring. In any event, it appears that the new staff signed about a dozen prospects and did a great job of hanging onto several players who had committed under Rich Maloney, as well as getting LOIs from several others in the short time they had to work with. The focus here is on 2013, but Erik Bakich and company have already also secured several 2014 commits and one from 2015. Their success on the recruiting trail has led to talk about a faster-than-expected turnaround for the program. In a Q&A posted in November, B1G Baseball blogger Chris Webb got this response from Jordan Banfield, a Texas Rangers scout and coach of an Ann Arbor travel team:
CW: Under Bakich, Michigan has been extremely aggressive and in those early classes [meaning 2014 and 2015] they surged to the front of the conference. Being in that region, what have you noticed first-hand with the approach Michigan has led by recruiting coordinator Sean Kenny?
JB: Aggressive is certainly the right term. They locked up the top 2013 in Michigan within a couple weeks of being hired and haven’t stopped getting commits since. Having only been on campus for a few months now and with the sheer number of guys they’re getting it’s obvious those guys are really hitting the road.
I think the biggest difference I see with this staff is that they have three coaches who are always out seeing guys. When your entire staff recruits it makes an incredible difference in terms of how much ground you can cover. With the number of kids they’re bringing in from across the country and some 2012 guys who look like early contributors I think there’s the potential for a quick turnaround in Ann Arbor.
This post covers just the seven in-state signees as it proved unwieldy to include the entire class. The signees from outside Michigan will be covered in a separate post. Following the intro below are additional (mostly recent) links and quotes relating to the signees.
The In-State Signees and Their Rankings
Last month, Prep Baseball Report posted a nice summary of Michigan's in-state signees that includes a brief scouting report on each player and links to their PBR profile pages where further information is often available. Below is their list of the seven recruits with their PBR rankings. Michigan signed four of PBR's top 10 in-state prospects, including Jackson Lamb, who is ranked #9 overall by PBR (overall meaning the eight-state region that the site covers).
Brett Adcock LHP-6-1-190 (Bay City Western HS)
PBR State Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 31
Carmen Benedetti 1B/LHP- (Grosse Point South HS)
PBR State Rank: 20
Overall Rank: 150
Hector Gutierrez SS/RHP-6-0-165 (Detroit Western International HS)
PBR State Rank: 9
Overall Rank: 93
Jackson Lamb RHP/OF-6-6-196 (Temperance-Bedford, Mich. / Bedford HS)
PBR State Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 9
TJ Shook RHP-6-3-190 (University of Detroit Jesuit HS)
PBR State Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 38
Johnny Slater OF-6-1-170 (Southfield Lathrup HS)
PBR State Rank: 33
Harrison Wenson C-6-3-225 (University of Detroit Jesuit HS)
PBR State Rank: 17
Overall Rank: 192
Three of Michigan's signees figure in the top 10 of Michigan Baseball Prospects' 2013 rankings:
From MLive: Bay City Western's Brett Adcock signs with Michigan—includes a brief video; here's a quote from his coach:
Coach Tim McDonald: “It doesn’t take a baseball genius to figure out he’s very talented and very gifted in terms of natural ability. He’s dominating when things are right, and I’m sure that’s why Michigan is taking a chance on him. He has a huge upside.”
I couldn't find anything recent for Gutierrez, so instead here's a video of him pitching, from the Detroit Arsenal RBI site.
Mick McCabe wrote a nice feature on Lamb for the Free Press, focusing in part on his choosing baseball over basketball. Also, as the article mentions, Lamb is likely to be selected in the 2013 draft, so there's a possibility he won't end up playing for Michigan—maybe a good possibility given his choice of words when asked about it:
His shot at baseball is so good, he will likely be chosen in the baseball draft, but he might not be a high pick since signing to attend U-M.
"You can't really tell until it actually happens," Lamb said. "You don't want to get your hopes up too much and then you're disappointed. Worse case scenario, I go to Michigan, which is a great opportunity."
MLB Prospect Guide has Lamb ranked #223 on its list of the top 300 prospects for the 2013 draft. (Side note: Michigan junior outfielder Michael O'Neill is listed at #56.)
One last item on Lamb: In the B1G Baseball Q&A mentioned above, Banfield selected Lamb as one of the top Big Ten commits in the 2013 class:
CW: Not every standout participates in fall ball, Michigan commit Jackson Lamb, for example, was not in Jupiter. With all prospects on the table, as the fall concludes how would you rank the top five or so Big Ten commits out of the Great Lake states that you’ve seen?
JB: Assuming we’re talking strictly about the 2013 class, Farmer and Lamb to me are in a league of their own as prospects.
I talked quite a bit about Farmer earlier, Jackson Lamb is a guy that isn’t all that well known nationally because so much of his time has been spent playing basketball and not traveling the country attending showcases/tournaments. We’re talking about a talent that doesn’t come through the state of Michigan very often.
First off, he’s 6’7 and extremely athletic, a legitimate 2-way player in college, people don’t think guys that tall can hit, well I’m here to tell you he can. His swing is incredibly short for being as big as he is and he’ll be an above average defender in right. As a pro prospect he’s obviously a pitcher who is extremely raw right now but throws strikes and I have no problem projecting him to throw 95-98 with low effort. Everyone knows about Trey Ball who’s way more polished than Jackson but the tools really aren’t that far off. Presently Farmer is way closer to being a B1G contributor on the mound, but in the long run I can’t pass on Lamb.
Here's a quote from a U of D Jesuit signing day press release:
Shook did not disappoint in 2012 either. The number 5 ranked player in the state of Michigan according to Prep Baseball Report, Shook was named to the All League and All District teams in 2012.“I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a student-athlete at the University of Michigan. It has always been a dream of mine to play at a high level Division I university. I am really looking forward to playing under Coach Bakich and the rest of his staff.” Shook adds, “Go Blue!”
A MIPrepZone signing day article features a brief video and this:
“I’m very excited to become a Michigan Wolverine,” said Slater after penning his letter of intent. “I focused on improving my skills every year since I was a freshman and that focus paid off. I’ve made a big jump in my play and I intend to keep making further jumps over the next year, prior to getting up to Ann Arbor.”
Slaters’ versatility might be his most appealing attribute. A smooth and savvy lefty, Slater is a specimen, terrorizing opponents whether pitching, hitting, running the base paths or on defense in centerfield.
Last season, he sported a whopping .576 batting average.
Darren Mosley, the Chargers’ skipper, can’t say enough about his star player.
“Johnny is a great kid, a great baseball player and a great student, what more can you ask for?,” he said. “He’s incredibly humble and he leads by example. We’ve put a lot of pressure on him these past couple of seasons and he’s always delivered.”
Wenson, a teammate of Shook at U of D Jesuit, also figured in the press release linked above:
Wenson is coming off an All-State season, as well as being named to the Dream Team in 2012, after hitting over .400 during the spring.“I chose the University of Michigan because I have grown up in a Michigan house. My father played baseball there and I am proud to carry on that tradition,” Wenson said. “I feel honored to play at such an elite university and am excited to learn under Coach Bakich and his staff.”
Wenson's father, Paul Wenson, played baseball at Michigan in 1985–86 before spending three years in the Detroit Tigers minor-league system, including playing for the Mud Hens for part of the 1989 season (see his Baseball-Reference.com page).