Via the Kalamazoo Gazette:
In April, the Gull Lake all-state baseball player accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Michigan. Weeks later, he re-opened his recruitment.
Recently, Fish was invited to be the lone Michigan representative and labeled among the top 60 from the U.S. to partake in the Power Showcase International High School Home Run Derby Dec. 27-30 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
This afternoon in the main conference room at Gull Lake High School, Fish will sign a national letter-of-intent with Oklahoma State University.
It goes on to say they offered 70% scholarship, and that he was sold on the Big XII's ability to produce more pro players and the Big XII's 16-4 record against the Big Ten last year.
Today was early signing day for quite a few Michigan sports. Baseball is yet to publish the list of early signees, but I expect it out in the next few days.
Jim Abbott gave a speech today where I work as part of an employees with disabilities awareness event. There was a board topic a couple days ago about a UofM-related 30 for 30 special. I think Jim's life story would be a perfect choice for 30 for 30. A few highlights: he pitched the gold-medal winning game for the USA in the '88 Olympics, he was 3rd in the Cy Young voting one year, and he pitched a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium. For more info, see: http://www.jimabbott.info/biography.html.
He spoke for an hour and I was on the edge of my seat for the whole time. He claims he's semi-retired now. He does some public speaking and works as a pitching instructor in the Angels system. He had many great stories to tell, but I'll only share a couple.
When he was in 2nd grade, his teacher noticed that Jim's shoes weren't tied. This is not surprising, given that Jim was born without a right hand. According to Jim, the teacher went home and figured out how to tie his own shoes with one hand and his fist, to mimic the end of Jim's right arm. He then taught Jim how to tie his shoes. Jim told this story with as much energy and emotion as when he told his story about winning the gold medal or pitching a no-hitter. If there are any teachers out there reading this, you can make a huge difference in a child's life. You never know what event or action will turn a kid around, or give them confidence in themselves, but it is beautiful when it happens. I must admit, my eyes were getting a little moist as Jim told the story.
The second story to note here was about his start the game before his no-hitter. He was facing the Indians in Cleveland, the same team he would no-hit 5 days later. Only in this game, he gave up 10 hits, 5 walks, and 7 runs in 3 innings. He was terribly upset and left the stadium to go running around Cleveland while the game was still in progress. When he got back to the stadium, the yanks had rallied to win. Jim's message was that in the first game, he didn't trust his stuff. In the no-hitter, he trusted that his catcher Matt Nokes would call a good game and he trusted in his own ability. He said that most of the great occasions in his life followed difficult times. I could only think of our Wolverines coming off this past weekend. Hopefully we've learned some lessons and will come out strong against the hawkeyes. Denard needs to trust in his ability to throw the ball like he did in the first 5 games, and in the offense to run the ball. If UofM does that, gets some stops on defense, and protects the football, we'll be right back on track.
While watching Once Brothers last night, I threw out the idea to my friends of "If they came to you and asked you for your best 30 for 30 idea, what would it be?"
Mine was totally MGoBlog inspired:
"You Were Killed By a Bear and I am Sad"--A reflective look at Michigan football from November 12, 2006 to January 2, 2008.
It would encompass the week leading up to the 2006 "Game of the Century", Bo's death, the Game itself, the bickering over the BCS in 2006, USC beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl, The Horror, the Oregon slaughter, the resurrection games against ND and Penn State, the Little Brother game, the Champaign nights, Boom Malletted, Coach Carr's retirement, the coaching search, a new era, and going out on top.
I know it has a very parochial feel and I know that it would be hard for many Michigan fans to watch, but I think it's reflective of a sea change in college football in microcosm.
So, with that in mind, what would be your hypothetical Michigan athletics 30 for 30 idea. It works better if you give your angle.
Yes, it's that time of year, when baseball rules supreme. The World Series is coming up in short order, and while Michigan doesn't have any horses in the playoffs, that doesn't mean that the Wolverine baseball team isn't making news. That news, at least for today, is the announcement of Michigan's 2011 schedule.
The University of Michigan baseball program and head coach Rich Maloney announced on Tuesday (Oct. 12) the 2011 schedule, which features games against at least four teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, a mid-week home series against Texas Tech, and the full 27-game Big Ten slate.
Looking over the schedule, this year seems a little bit harder than in years past, and that's saying quite a bit. The big weekend series of the non-conference, at Stanford March 18-20, will be a giant test for the Wolverines; we've known about it since last year's season opening podcast.
Michigan did upgrade some of their other series as well, particularly in the mid week. Along with the annual home and home with Notre Dame (May 3-4), the Wolverines will play host to Texas Tech (May 10-11), marking the first time Michigan has hosted a Big XII opponent.
Coach Rich Maloney on bringing on the tougher schedules:
"I think you want to play a challenging schedule so that when you're coming to Big Ten play, you're ready to challenge yourself," Maloney continued. "Hopefully, you have worked on some things that maybe you hadn't worked on as much. But you've had experience against quality teams so you've been challenged. […] We felt it was a benefit to our kids because you learn about your team and yourself when you battle through the rigors of a tough non-conference schedule and this will be no different. We're going to have to play well to win those games early in the schedule, but ultimately it will prepare us for the Big Ten season."
Other non-conference opponents include a three-game series with a Rutgers (February 25-26) team that just missed the NCAA tournament last year, a weekend at Winthrop (2 games vs Winthrop, 2 against Stony Brook), a four-game weekend in at Sam Houston State (March 4-6, which I undoubtedly will be attending at least Saturday and maybe Sunday), and the season-opening Big Ten/Big East Challenge, with matchups yet to be determined. Michigan is also continuing their series with Florida Gulf Coast, who had a great Michigan alumni showing last season.
As for the conference season, Michigan misses Michigan State during the official Big Ten season, but like last year, the two schools have managed to secure a series against each other. Unlike last year, the schools will play a three-game weekend series (March 25-27) in place of the tomato cans both would usually face in their respective home openers. The Wolverines will host Friday and Sunday, with the Saturday game in East Lansing. I love this scheduling tactic as it eliminates the annual RPI vacuum surrounding IPFW, Oakland, or worse.
In the REAL conference season, Michigan does get two of the toughest series at home, with Indiana in week one of conference play (April 1-3) and Minnesota near the end of the season (May 6-8). They will also host Illinois and Penn State. That leaves road series at Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, and Northwestern. That's a pretty tough road schedule, with Purdue and Iowa returning plenty of talent and Ohio State having a new, aggressive coach.
Unlike last year's schedule, I'm not sure I can even get close to predicting a win goal for Michigan right now. Questions are a plenty in the starting rotation and in the outfield. I want to put out a guess around 36-19 overall and 15-9 in conference, but that's a lot of guessing. If that were to come true, Michigan would almost have to win the Big Ten Tournament to make the NCAA. Right now, until I see our starting rotation prove themselves, I think that's probably a reasonable baseline -- neither too high nor too low, but also not a concrete floor.
UPDATE: According to Chris Webb of Buckeye State Baseball, Michigan's Big East opponents in the challenge are UCONN, St. John's, and Louisville. That's three tournament teams from last year added to the schedule and one tough weekend to open the season.
It's articles like this that make me thankful we have/had Athletic Directors like Bill Martin and David Brandon. There is no discussion of any Michigan sports programs getting cut during these times while great schools like Cal have to cut not only baseball, but also both gymnastics teams and women's lacrosse.
Thank you Michigan Athletic Department!
Cam Wysocki, picture from fhnbaseball
[Ed.- Yeah, two baseball posts in one day in September. I love it.]
Michigan received their first verbal commitment from the freshman class of 2012-2013(!) in Cam Wysocki of Forest Hills Northern. Wysocki is a 6'3" right handed pitcher and son of Dane Wysocki, a former UM player and his current high school coach. That UM connection through his parents has had him sold on the Wolverines since birth:
"Since I was about 5 years old, my parents and grandparents have been taking me to Michigan to see games," Wysocki said. "Football at 'The Big House' is one of the best experiences you can have. And Ann Arbor is such a great college town."
The article goes on to list his offers (MSU, OSU, ND, Alabama, Stanford, and Kentucky), as well as his fastball at 88mph. Wysocki is also the starting quarterback and a small forward in the off season, but baseball is his future sport.
Outside of pitching, Cam also is the starting short stop for the Huskies, as well as taking some time at second and first. I've yet to find much in the way of pitching stats, but he was 3-1 last season.
It's too early to project where Wysocki will be by the time he comes to Michigan, so I'll hold off on any input there. Pitchers are hard enough to figure out, but add that it's 2 years before he'll be on the field and that he's a multisport athlete who could get injured in next week's football game, and I've got nothing.
What's crazy about this commitment is that I've heard very little about the rest of Michigan's freshman class of 2011-2012. Will Drake is the only commit I've seen stories on. I'm sure there are probably a few others, but with the early signing period not until November, there isn't a whole lot out there to look at. Such is college baseball, though.
Michigan's baseball team is in the midst of fall practice this week, and like spring ball for football, there are some vague outlooks of next season hinted at even in meaningless exhibitions against Canadian teams. Yesterday, for the second year in a row, Michigan took on the Ontario Blue Jays, a high-level summer ball squad from north of the border. For the second year in a row, Michigan crushed the Jays.
While the 24-1 score over the 14 inning scrimmage means nothing, how innings were allotted to pitchers is something of quite a bit more interest. Heading into next season, Michigan will be replacing two weekend starters. Lefty Bobby Brosnahan seems to be a lock to return to the rotation, and junior Brandon Sinnery is poised to be the second after spending the summer in Ann Arbor bulking up for the workload, but the third spot has been somewhat vague. Enter the exhibition;
Judging by the innings, it looks like the early front runner for the last spot is Kolby Wood (right, by MGoBlue). Wood has been a jack of all trades on the pitching staff for quite some time now. Early on, there were several experiments to move him to the rotation, but between his own struggles starting, and his value as a late inning reliever, Wood never could secure a starting spot. Kolby does have a pretty good fastball, a solid slider, changeup, and has worked with developing a splitter.
As far as the other relievers and potential starters, I have to be impressed with Gerbe and Ballantine. Gerbe could very well end up as this year's closer if he doesn't get groomed into a starter as well. I'm starting to get excited about the future of Ben Ballantine as well. His freshman season wasn't great, but with his height and size, I think we'll see a big break through for him this year.
The last note on the pitching staff, why do lefty relievers always bother me? Be it Katzman's bipolar "OMG I'M GREAT" to "OMG I JUST HIT TWO BATTERS AND GAVE UP 4 HITS THIS INNING" or Jeff DeCarlo, Academic All-American, I've just never felt comfortable with our "specialists." This year appears to be more of the same. Tyler Mills is cut from the same sporadic lefty mold where he'll walk a few batters per innings to raise the blood pressure, then it's anyone's guess on how the inning will end.
Here's where things get interesting. While the first two slots of Biondi and Toth is no surprise, John Lorenz (bottom right, by MGoBlue) in the 3-hole isn't something I really expected. Lorenz really came along to end last season, but his power has been streaky at best and his strikeout rate is generally pretty high. The more I think about it though, the more it makes sense. The only other power options are Crank and Stephens, but their K-rate is probably twice that of Lorenz.
The other option was moving Derek Dennis into the 3, but judging just on the regular season, Dennis didn't appear to be ready for that load yet. It's not to say he won't be ready by February, but I just haven't seen reason to move him that high in the order just yet. Dennis should fit in well to the 6-hole. He'll act as a clean up hitter for Crank and Stephens above him, who should provide Dennis with plenty of RBI opportunities.
The bottom three in the order are of more interest to me than anything else. With two outfield spots open, all three of those guys are competing for two spots on the field. And with Michael O'Neill due back from labrum surgery in the next month or two, that's just one more guy in the mix – one that some close to the baseball program think is already the favorite to start in left. I'm personally leaning towards Krantz as the other outfielder, but that's without seeing him play since the broken thumb. Kevin looked good while replacing Ryan LaMarre last season, and I'd love to see him continue to produce like that at the bottom of the order.
As for the DH, I wasn't really expecting Alex Lakatos to make an appearance, especially given his pitching potential. Lakatos was one of the state of Michigan's top high school pitching prospects last season. I didn't know Maloney also was looking at his bat. I'm also somewhat surprised with the lack of Cam Luther. Luther was the big bat brought in the recruiting class of 2009. He made it into just a handful of games last year before contracting mono, but it appears the projection that he would challenge Stephens for 1st base or designated hitter might be pushed back a little later.
What it Means
Like spring football, everything in this game is all to be taken with a grain of salt. Players still have a few months to get into baseball shape, and anything could happen between now and then, especially on the mound.
If there is one thing I take out of this though, it's pleasure in the AD finally giving the fall exhibitions some publicity. In several southern baseball schools, fall ball is a big deal. Last year, we were given a score, no box, no write up, nothing. As Michigan continues to build it's baseball program, this is a small step forward. So is their recent hire of the new assistant SID, Kent Reichert, formerly of Coastal Carolina (a big time baseball school). I'm really encouraged to see the program moving forward like this.
Bad news on the baseball recruiting front this weekend as outfield prospect Zach Fish of Gull Lake High School (Richland, MI) has stepped back from his verbal commitment to the University of Michigan. Fish had previously committed to UM coach Rich Maloney in May to accept a 50% scholarship to the school he had been a fan of since he was a small kid.
Things have changed over the course of the summer. Fish now holds offers from Oklahoma State and Florida Gulf Coast, two solid baseball schools in more baseball-friendly weather states. On top of that, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Louisville are also showing interest. If they get involved with decent scholarship offers, any of those three would probably hold a huge upper hand on Michigan.
U-M is “still in the mix,” Fish noted. He admitted, however, some doubts crept in when a Wolverines coach was talking to the Cincinnati-based Midland Redskins organization for which Fish plays in the summer and did not mention that Fish was a U-M commit.
“You’d think that you would want it reflected on (the Redskins) roster that Zach has committed to your school,” Fish’s father, Duane Fish, said about the U-M coach. “You would think the first thing you would say is, ‘Zach Fish is ours, keep your hands off him.’”
Duane Fish said his son also had second thoughts about playing in a northern climate and concerns about not getting the exposure he might at a southern program.
Zach Fish said the phone call to U-M head coach Rich Maloney was “probably one of the most nerve-racking conversations I’ve had, just because I gave the man my word that I was going to be a Wolverine and I gave him my commitment and he gave me his.”
I'm not sure what to make of a coach not mentioning his commitment. Fish can't sign his letter of intent until the early signing period in November, and therefore, the program isn't allowed to discuss commitments. I'm missing the context here, so maybe there is something deeper to this.
As far as losing exposure, I think that's just talk. Michigan did just have an outfielder go in the first round after being listed as a preseason All-American. I'm sure Fish and his father are well aware of that, but it's definitely something the other schools are trying to sell.
If Michigan isn't able to re-secure the commitment from Fish, it's a pretty big loss for the program. Fish is one of the better position players to come out of Michigan in a few years, and Maloney unloaded the kitchen sink (50% scholarship is reserved for the best of the best).
Fish seemed like a lock to start as a freshman along side Biondi and O'Neill. If Michigan can't re-secure a commit, they do have a few other outfield options, but they'll probably try to secure another commit in this class.
Zach Hurley, Ohio State's leader on the field the last few seasons, was drafted in the 29th round by the Houston Astros this June, and he's already in trouble. After just 18 games played, he's going to miss the next 50 for testing positive for an illegal substance:
Hurley was a respected three-time scholar athlete at Ohio State, which described him as "a leader in the way he acts and practices." He was chosen by his peers to co-captain the 2010 Buckeyes team after beginning the season as a .320 career hitter. [...]
Methylhexaneamine is a substance originally intended to be used as a nasal decongestant that has gained popularity as a recreational drug which reportedly gives users an adrenaline rush. Side effects include nausea and stroke. The drug was recently linked to several Jamaican track stars in 2009.
This is the second Buckeye to face a 50-game suspension according to Buckeye blogger Chris Webb. Ron Bourquin of the 2006 OSU squad, currently of the Tigers, was also suspended (June 4th article, now archived) this year for a banned substance.
HT: Other Chris