Michigan improves to 3-8-1 on the season in this murderers row nonconference schedule with a win in Fort Meyers. Tomorrow Michigan plays UCF.
Unfortunate setback given this year's expectations, although he was probably the most dispensable of any starter (even though he was platooning with Davis). Hopefully speedy recovery.
I was down in Lakeland for the past few days and caught a few of the Tigers games, so I thought I'd share some observations and pics from my time there. First, some observations:
- I saw JV throw a live BP session on a practice field (which was awesome btw...there were only a few other people who knew he was throwing, so I was close enough that I could hear him interacting with the hitters and coaches). I posted a few pics below, but I also have some vids. If you're interested in seeing them, I'll post them - but they're like 2-3 minutes long, and are pretty much just him throwing pitches.
- Joba Chamberlain looked to be in pretty good shape. From what I remembered of him, he was borderline obese not too long ago. He's still a bit chunky, but not overly so. If I remember correctly, we saw one appearance of him, and he pitched well.
- Rick Porcello is in great shape. You can kind of see it from one of the pics below, but he was leading the group of pitchers in their pole runs (running foul pole to foul pole along the warning track).
- JV is also in great shape and is working hard. I didn't post the pic below, but he was running his poles really hard, and he was running them by himself.
- Steven Moya is huge. He looks young and raw, but he was one of the better looking minor league athletes out there. He also threw a guy out at the plate from right field - threw an absolute rope, right on the money to get the guy.
- Devon Travis was impressive...and small. I didn't realize he got the fan vote for Minor League Offensive POY last year, but he was the prospect that probably caught our attention the most.
- Definitely a lot more speed on the team. We knew Rajai Davis was fast, but Steve Lombardozzi stole third, and there was a noticeable difference in overall team speed.
- We saw Porcello, Scherzer, Sanchez, and Lobstein start. They all did pretty well. I think Scherzer was the only one who gave up a run (off a homer...that was the only hit he gave up). I think they all went two innings, except for Lobstein, who I think went three.
- The weather was beautiful. Coming back to Cleveland yesterday with single-digit temperatures and snow was a bit depressing.
That's all that comes to mind right now. I'll try to answer if you have any questions about anybody specific. Here are some pics:
(L-R: Sanchez, Porcello, Below, Nathan, Putkonen)
(Sanchez and Porcello)
(Ground-rule double that Cabrera hit during BP. I caught it on the left field berm)
(Joba saying "Hi" to some of his New York buddies...he and Phil Coke were two of the friendliest guys there)
Deadspin has an interesting article this morning. Essentially, Oregon State player gets drafted, is offered a 400K signing bonus, forgoes it and decides to stay at OSU. In the course of the negotations, he retained an agent to help guide him through the process. Allegedly, the Phillies are upset at him for not signing (despite getting a compensatory pick) and told the NCAA about the agent.
Here's what I don't get (and not that I expect the NCAA to do ANYTHING) that makes sense: you allow the player to get drafted and return to college...why should a teenager/young man not have representation in a contract negotation? Ultimately, he didn't sign the contract so why is he being punished when he presumably returned to OSU to improve his game? It's absolutely ridiculous that the NCAA thinks young men should be entering into 6 and 7 figure contract negotiations without representation. It's completely illogical.
Also, fuck the Phillies if they actually did turn him in. Allegedly, they attempted to do the same with another one of their draft picks but he was cleared by the NCAA so hopefully Wetzler's case is resolved soon. Who actually does this? Apparently turning in players is really rare.
One of the youngest head coaches in college baseball, Erik Bakich picked up the 100th win of his career last night as Michigan beat Air Force 8-2 in the third game of their four-game Texas State Tournament opener in San Marcos, Texas. Fifth-year senior Ben Ballantine made an outstanding return from the gruesome ankle injury that ended his senior year prematurely, giving up just one hit and no earned runs in seven innings of work—and earning the win. (See also mgoblue.com recap.)
The victory followed a disappointing opening day that saw the Wolverines drop two games, both in 10 innings, 8-7 to Texas State and 8-6 to Washington. In both contests, Michigan went into the late innings with a decent lead—7-3 after six in the opener, 6-3 after seven in the nightcap—but the bullpen was unable to hold the advantages and the Wolverines batters failed to tack on any insurance runs.
Some hitting highlights from the first three games:
- Junior DH Kyle Jusick is hitting .455 (5-for-11), with 3 runs and 2 RBI
- Senior catcher Cole Martin's solid start includes a 3-run homer
- Juco transfer Jackson Glines has done well stepping into the large void left by Pat Biondi's graduation; batting leadoff, Glines is hitting .400 (6-for-15), with 3 runs, 3 RBI, and 1 stolen base
- Freshman Jackson Lamb is living up to the hype so far, going 4-for-6, with 3 doubles and 4 RBI
Michigan plays Washington again today at 1pm ET in their final game in this tournament. The Wolverines will send sophomore Evan Hill to the mound as they try to even their season and tourney record at 2-2.
Once again venturing into the fertile recruiting grounds of the Chicago metro area, the Michigan baseball staff has secured its fourth commitment for 2016: Christian Bullock, a 6-0, 173-lb. first basemen/left-handed pitcher/outfielder out of Chicago's Morgan Park H.S. That's the same high school that Rahman Williams, a 2014 Michigan signee, originally attended (he's now at Montverde Academy in Orlando, FL). Other Chicagoland players that Bakich & Co. have brought to Ann Arbor, signed, or gotten commitments from are Keith Lehmann (current freshman), Ryan Nutof (2014), Brian Pall (2014), Charlie Donovan (2015), and Ako Thomas (2015).
Prep Baseball Report doesn't have a very recent scouting report on Bullock, but lacking anything else, here's what they said about him in January 2013:
Lanky build, 5-foot-9, 155-pound two way player. Left handed first baseman, advanced footwork, soft hands, plays athletically, quick exchange. Left handed hitter, open stance, dives at stride, finds the barrel consistently, line drive gap to gap style hitter. Projectable on the mound, deception in delivery, rotational delivery. Arm works cleanly and loosely, long ¾ arm slot. Fastball sits 73-76 mph, shows slight run, control. Curveball works on 11/5 plane, early action, flashed occasional sweeping action. Changeup shows run, consistently down out of the zone, 67-68 mph.
Note that Perfect Game appears to have seen Bullock more recently, and they list him at 6-0, 173 and have his fastball topping out at 78. They also list his "colleges interested" as Louisiana-Lafayette, Michigan, Missouri, and Notre Dame. PBR currently has Bullock ranked #91 in the state of Illinois for the 2016 class.
photo of Bullock from PBR profile page
Here's a summary of the 2016 class to date, with PBR rankings indicated:
Derek Jeter announced via Facebook that 2014 would be his last in a MLB uniform. You can read his letter at: https://www.facebook.com/DerekJeter
Jeter was committed to the University of Michigan before deciding to take $800,000 from the NY Yankees in the 1992 MLB draft.
Erik Bakich made the first of his weekly appearances on WTKA for the 2014 season this morning (podcast), providing a good preview of the upcoming Michigan baseball campaign, which begins Friday down in Texas.
The focus here is on who's playing which position. In addition to what Bakich said, this overview is also based on the current game notes.
Starting pitchers: Every starter returns from last year—fifth-year seniors Logan McAnallen and Ben Ballantine, juniors James Bourque and Trent Szkutnik, and sophomore Evan Hill. They'll get the bulk of the innings. The game notes have probable starters for this weekend as Bourque and Szkutnik for games 1 and 2 on Friday, Ballantine on Saturday, and Hill on Sunday. Bakich talked about the importance of his hurlers being able to consistently throw multiple types of pitches for strikes. McAnallen and Ballantine had shown this ability in the past; the other three have made tremendous improvement in this area since last season.
Bullpen: Bakich didn't discuss the bullpen extensively, but sophomore Jacob Cronenworth will be the closer. In his freshman year, when he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, he had a 1.93 ERA and seven saves in 15 appearances; yesterday, he was named to the Stopper of the Year watch list. Michigan returns two other players who had extensive bullpen duties last season, senior Alex Lakatos and junior Matt Ogden. Bakich mentioned that freshman Jackson Lamb will be a two-way player, seeing time in the outfield and pitching in relief. He'll be brought along slowly, with his role likely increasing as the season progresses. The game notes mention two other freshman who are expected to have roles as relievers—Brett Adcock and Keith Lehmann.
Outfield: The biggest losses on the team from last year are starting outfielders Patrick Biondi and Michael O'Neill, both now playing professional ball. Zach Zott returns and will continue to be the starting left fielder. Bakich talked about how much more depth his team has this year than last year, and this is evident in the outfield, where he expects at least three players to see action in center and right—juco transfer Jackson Glines and two freshmen, Lamb and Johnny Slater. The game notes show the probable starters as Zott in left, Glines in center, and Slater in right. Bakich also mentioned that juniors Kyle Jusick and Kevin White might see some action in the outfield.
Infield: Coming off his stellar freshman season, sophomore Travis Maezes will continue to be the starting shortstop. Also anchoring the infield will be Cronenworth. But while he split time last season at second and third, this season Cronenworth will be the starter at either third or first, depending on whether the opposing team is starting a right-handed pitcher or a southpaw. Also playing some first will be juco transfer Kendall Patrick. Three freshmen will see action at second and third—Hector Gutierrez, Ramsey Romano, and Trey Miller. The game notes show the probable starters as Cronenworth at first, Gutierrez at second, Maezes at short, and Romano at third.
Catcher: Senior Cole Martin returns as the starter; he was named third-team All-Big Ten last year. He'll be helped out by Patrick and freshman Harrison Wenson.
Offense in general: Strategy will remain the same as last season, with the aim to play fast, be very aggressive both at the plate and on the bases, and put pressure on the opposing team. Many of the newcomers have speed and athleticism.
With all the starting pitchers back from last season, along with some key position players, as well as a raft of talented newcomers, Michigan is expected to improve on their 5th place finish in the Big Ten last season when their record was 14-10 in the conference and 29-27 overall. So far, the conference previews have picked them to finish third or fourth.
Erik Bakich and his staff have picked up their 7th commitment in the 2015 class as Ben Keizer has announced his commitment to Michigan. Keizer is a 6-2, 175-lb. left-handed pitcher out of Portage Northern H.S. in Portage, Michigan. He plays travel ball for Midwest Athletics, the same team as 2016 Michigan commit Jack Weisenburger (see Hello post). Prep Baseball Report reported in November that Keizer was being recruited by Louisville, Ball State, Michigan State, Western Michigan, and Central Michigan.
PBR ran this scouting report on Keizer in a rundown of an August 2013 event at which they considered him the top pitching prospect:
6-foot-2, 175-pound lanky pitcher. On the mound he has a tall and fall style delivery with rhythm and an athletic finish. Throws with a loose, quick arm, from a high ¾ slot, with easy effort. Throws his fastball on a downhill plane, with occasional cut, sitting 83-85 mph, touching 86 mph one time. Has solid feel for his curveball that he throws with arm speed similar to the fastball. It has an 11/5 shape, occasionally flashing a true 12/6 shape, and comes in at 61-64 mph. His changeup has occasional sinking action and is 71-73 mph. His loose arm and easy effort, combined with his lanky frame give him solid projectability. Keizer is one of the top Class of 2015 graduates in the state of Michigan and is a high follow in the Midwest.
Rankings-wise, PBR has Keizer #12 in the state of Michigan for the 2015 class and #97 overall in their ten-state coverage area.
photo of Keizer from PBR profile page
Below are the PBR overall rankings for Michigan's seven 2015 commits. Plummer and Goslin are PBR's #2 and #3 players from the state of Michigan in the 2015 class, so Michigan now has commitments from 3 of the top 12 in-state prospects for that class.
- 14. Charlie Donovan 5-10 SS (Hello post)
- 20. Nick Plummer 5-10 OF (Hello post)
- 43. Collin Goslin 6-3 LHP (Hello post)
- 67. Ako Thomas 5-8 2B (Hello post)
- 97. Ben Keizer 6-2 LHP
- 228. Andrew David 5-10 SS (Hello post*)
- 235. Nick Azar 6-3 SS (Hello post)
*Hello post is Ace's from the front page. David will be on a football scholarship, but he evidently also plans to play baseball at Michigan.
The five top 100 PBR commitments for Michigan is the most of any Big Ten school. Ohio State is second with four commits, but their highest ranked is #25, with the other three at #54, #73, and #92. Purdue is the only other Big Ten school with a commit in the top 25—they have the #11 recruit, but they have only one other top 100 recruit (#27).
You are looking live at a post by some guy that used to be here all the time, but since has disappeared into the wilderness and thus returned only to probably disappear again!
Anyway, UM's baseball season is nigh upon us! In just one week, Coach Bakich continues his crusade "to catch that softball program" and return Michigan to the NCAA tournament. This year's edition of the team is very similar to that of last year's, but now with more experience!
Eric Sorenson, my former idol and still current holder of my most coveted job I will never try to get, has posted his "Top 302 Teams of 2014" post for this year, and yes, he does rank and blurb each of the 302 teams in Division 1, and he has Michigan at #71:
71- MICHIGAN (29-27, 14-10)
2013 ISR: 138
Starters Returning: 7
Weekend Starters: 3
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4
Coach Erik Bakich was right, “a bunch of pissed-off Wolverines” turned the program around last year. Could be even more this year as 55 of the 56 starts on the mound come back, as does two-way talent Jacob Cronenworth (.320, 12SBs & 0-3, 1.93, 7svs). Plus, the future is sparkling for the Maize & Blue as the 20th-ranked recruiting class comes to campus.
For those interested, his B1G teams are ranked as such:
48. Nebraska (*fixed after comment)
75. Michigan State
105. Ohio State
226. Penn State
Indiana is the clear favorite after making it all the way to the College World Series Last year. They return plenty and their coach is fantastic. After that, it gets all B1G Baseball-y with any team from Illinois to probably Ohio State having a decent shot at being pretty good, but no one is really sure because this is 1) college baseball and 2) mid-major college baseball.
As for this year's schedule, it looks to have quite a few solid names on the docket. The team starts with a Texas tour starting with a tournament in San Marcos with games against 2 of Sorenson's top 100 in Texas State and Washington. Then it's a 3 game set at my current graduate school, the University of Houston. Needless to say I will be attending at least one game in my Michigan jersey. Not that I'll be in UH jerseys for the other three, but my mother and wife have the audacity to both have birthdays that weekend, so I won't have much time to enjoy the old ball field.
From there is't a tournament hosted by Notre Dame in Cary, N.C. Which... yeah, sure. But top 5 North Carolina State and top 20 UCLA will both be there, along with a double header with Appalachian State and Notre Dame sandwiched between the big two. After that its a swing through Florida for our nearly annual FGCU match up, a game at UCF, and a 4 game set against a probably hapless Princeton.
We finish the southern tour in Charleston to take on Appalachain State again, followed by two against College of Charleston ad Kent State.
That's a pretty solid opening stanza. Of those teams, only Air Force and Princeton are terrible. The rest are at least top 120-ish teams.
As for the B1G season, we start it in the hardest way possible, a 3 game set at Indiana. Then its home against Iowa and Minnestoa, away to Illinois and Purdue, home against Nebraska, away to Northwestern, and then finish the season home against Ohio State. Lastly, we have a bye week with a pair of games against Kansas, who projects to be a meh Big12 team.
B1G tournament is in Omaha this year, probably as a favor to Indiana. Give them an extra couple practice games on their CWS warm up tour.
I have no particular idea myself on how the season will go down. I somewhat gave up following the team 3-4 years ago with school and work and wife and globe-trotting recently, so that's probably all I'll have on the team for a while. I may post a summary of the game from Houston if I do make it out there. Maybe I'll even catch you out there.