Baseball: Summer Ball Teams

Baseball: Summer Ball Teams

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on June 23rd, 2010 at 6:17 PM

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.

The Knowns

  • 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.

Missing

    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.

Baseball: Game, Tournament, Season Come to a End

Baseball: Game, Tournament, Season Come to a End

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 31st, 2010 at 11:46 PM

sweet love with a bat

Simply Beautiful

In a little over two seasons of Michigan baseball coverage, I've seen highs and I've seen lows. In 2008, Michigan had an outstanding class of upperclassmen, perhaps their best since the 1980s. When they left, some to graduation, others who left early to the draft, Michigan was left with a huge void. In one year, Michigan went from a first place team in the Big Ten to one of the worst teams in the conference.

The 2010 season was supposed to be the first step to rebuilding. Michigan had two powerful senior captains. They had Ryan LaMarre, a guy now looking at being drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB draft. The pitching depth was there. They may have lacked the big star on the mound, but they were going to be good.

On Saturday, Michigan faced Iowa in a chance to make the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game went much like the rest of the season. Michigan opened with a bang. The offense exploded. After it went quiet, the pitching held strong. But when the pitching left, so did much of Michigan's hopes for the NCAA.

Recap, and a look back at the big picture… or excel graph. However you want to look at it…, and a look forward after the jump.

Baseball: Penn State Recap

Baseball: Penn State Recap

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 22nd, 2010 at 8:18 PM

lorenz defense is good

Michigan took two of three games at Penn State this weekend to claim a #2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. While all three games had many great positives, the ending to game two is how this series will be remembered. Michigan held a 4 run lead going into the bottom of the 9th, and the bull pen collapsed.

Weekend recap, series thoughts, and a look at the Big Ten bracket after the jump

Baseball: Ohio State Recap

Baseball: Ohio State Recap

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 2nd, 2010 at 7:27 PM

barry larkin story 
Barry Larkin wants you in the stands supporting Michigan

Michigan beat Ohio State on Friday and Sunday to secure one of the more exciting series wins in Ann Arbor in quite some times. This series saw surprises abound: a first round draft pick get scratched from the starting lineup with an injury, nearly every pitcher in this series pitched to or beyond their potential, great defense, and most importantly, the good guys coming out on top.

For full recap, follow the jump:

Baseball Stat Watch: Conference Midpoint

Baseball Stat Watch: Conference Midpoint

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on April 27th, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Now that we've reached the conference midpoint and looked at the conference outlook, it's time to take a look at the team stats. Unlike in previous editions, the graphics will include some pitching related stats despite too small of a sample size to be that meaningful. The pitching stats are starting to show some trends, though.

As another reminder, these stats aren't official, but they should be pretty close. I have to compile these by going through every box score and input them into Excel tables. Many times, box scores contain errors that are corrected in the official statistics, but they may not be adjusted in the online box score.

So, as I start each of these posts, we'll look at the three major derived stats that are readily available in the college game (batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage):

team hitting over season

In that AWESOME EXCEL GRAPH, you can see each of the percentages as they accumulate over the season. It should be pretty obvious that as the season goes along, the lines should normalize to the average as more data comes in. What may be a bit more difficult to see is that Michigan's offense peaked in the Central Michigan game. At that time Michigan was hitting .328 (BA) and .411(OBP). The slugging picked up a bit since then, peaking in the offensive explosion in Illinois game one, with a .477 slugging percentage.

Michigan currently sits at .321 (BA), .404 (OBP), and .470 (SLG). That ranks 3rd, 3rd, and 4th in the Big Ten respectively (more on this below). In terms of conference only stats, Michigan is at .322 (BA), .411 (OBP), and .469 (SLG), which means we've done a little bit better in conference in terms of getting on base, but everything else has been pretty similar to the non-conference season. That's pretty surprising given the difference in talent we've faced, but at the same time, Michigan has had a couple of anemic offensive games against some of the Big Ten's best pitchers (Hippen, Bischoff, Leininger), and they've had some explosive games against some of the not so good (Illinois win).

Speaking of talent difference between conference and nonconference, the purple line in the above graph, for those who didn't pay attention last time, represents the RPI of our opponents. The number one team in Boyd Nation's pseudo-RPI would be a 1.000, and a team holding the #302 RPI (or any non-D1 opponents if you're a Buckeye who plays AND LOSES to D2 and NAIA teams) would register as a 0.000 score. From that, you can see that our non-conference schedule was pretty difficult with two games against #1 Coastal Carolina, but our last few games, as well as the Big Ten regular season are quite a drop in competition.

The second graph I tend to post up is per nine innings stats, particularly runs, hits, strikeouts, and walks. These are just the sum of our total stats accumulated over the number of innings Michigan has batted (a home win normally only has 8 innings, as compared to any road game having 9 innings). Taking a peak:

per 9 innings

Looking at the above, we can clearly see the differences between "OMG WE LOST LAMARRE" and the the team becoming stable. LaMarre came back against Central Michigan, where we can see a small jump in hits and runs, but not much in terms of long term changes. The only long term pattern that comes from the post-LaMarre return is a slight drop in strikeouts, a product of Krantz and Stephens getting less at bats.

At the time of LaMarre's return, I probably would have predicted an increase in hits and runs per game, but as we'll see in a bit, a couple of players have really cooled down over the last few weeks, most notably Coley Crank.

For individuals and a brief look at pitching, follow the jump. Warning, it gets long. Probably unnecessarily long. But it is what it is.

Baseball Preview: The Infield

Baseball Preview: The Infield

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on February 17th, 2010 at 12:07 AM

Continuing the baseball previews in a build up to opening day this Friday, I'll look at how the team is infield, offensively and defensively is shaping up this year. Previous preview posts: Initial Schedule Reaction, Maloney Podcast, A Look Back, Pitching.

On a side note, you can see the baseball television schedule here.

The Infield

The infield is a tale of two halves, the right and the left. On the right, we have solid returners with solid, not quite stellar, offensive and defensive play. They're proven with a full year's experience. On the left, we have a pair of unknowns. Our third baseman played semi-regularly last year, but could never solidify himself, while our shortstop is a true freshman with a great pedigree.

dufek smash Dufek to umpire and catcher: "Made you blink!"

The only full time starter returning to the same position for the Wolverines this year is Mike Dufek at first base. Dufek will be in his second full season at first base, his freshman year was spent split with Nate Recknagel. Dufek's defense is pretty good at first, but he does lack a bit of range. For this reason sometimes you'll see him replaced by Garrett Stephens, or even true freshman Cam Luther if Maloney finds himself unable to red shirt the exceptional talent. Both of those are expected to be potential defensive upgrades over Dufek, and they will allow Dufek a chance to DH a bit more often.

Speaking of DH'ing, Dufek isn't in the lineup for his defense anyway--the guy can swing the bat. Mike hit 17 home runs last season, tied for third best in school history, and his .627 slugging percentage was 5th best in the BigTen.

The big question surrounding Dufek this season is can he cut down on the strikeouts? Last season saw him strike out one in every 3.8 at bats. High risk/high reward batters may have their merits, but those type of batters need to be hitting 6th, not clean up.

After debating this lightly with commenter Colin over the last few days, I've still yet to be able to accept Dufek as living up to the needs of the teams just because of his 17 home runs last season. Yes, Dufek's OPS was 1.001 last season. Do I think that was enough? No. It sounds weird as a 1.000 OPS is generally regarded as very good. I just don't think his .374 on base percentage is what it should be in the middle of the order. He should be at least .400 to be gaining the sort of praise he's been getting. Even his .304 batting average, that's got to rise up. This is college, not the pros. A great hitter like Dufek has the potential to be needs to be hitting in the .320s. Call it tough love, call it what you will, but I think he's underachieving.

But that also gives me hope. With another year of experience under his belt, I feel like this should be the year that Dufek hits one all cylinders. He's gotten better every season he's been at Michigan, I expect the same thing of him this year. I expect him to be more patient and more explosive.

toth signs in Moving to second base, our other returning starter, Anthony Toth, will be playing after moving from shortstop. I think this is a positive for the team and Toth. Toth's a little small for shortstop in the big leagues, so he might as well get accustomed to second base now. I think this will also help with his tendency for errors as he'll have easier plays at second than the massive area he had to cover at short. Hopefully he can cut that team high 16 errors last season by at least half if not 3/4.

At the plate, Toth will hit second, and by all current indicators, that's where he'll stay all season. Anthony is a pretty good contact hitter who can put the ball in the gap. This should work well in moving our lead off hitter around the bases and setting up LaMarre with easy RBI opportunities. Like Dufek, though, Toth has a high strikeout rate, and that needs to be fixed this season. We can't win if our 2 and 4 hole hitters strikeout at the rate they did last year.

Unlike Dufek though, Toth had a solid on base percentage of .410. He really started to produce after being moved down in the order, and continued to do pretty well when bumped back to the top of the lineup following Cislo's injury.

lorenz At third base, John Lorenz will once again start at third base to open the season. If he's able to lock down the position is still a big question. Last year saw him have to split time with senior walk-on catcher Tim Kalczynski. Being a true freshman starting in college is tough, especially when you miss your entire high school senior season. Defensively, Lorenz has a very good arm, but he too had trouble on the left side of the infield last year. His 14 errors was second highest on the team (the next closest was 6). If he's going to hold on to his position, he must field the ball better.

Offensively, Lorenz was a non-factor in the lineup. He was relegated to the 8-spot in the lineup, generally reserved for the worst hitter on the team. His .375 slugging percentage would likely have been a BigTen low last season for third basemen had he enough at-bats to qualify. Lorenz will most likely stay in the 8 spot as far as I can tell. If for some reason he comes out on fire, look for a possible move to the 2-spot and Biondi to drop in the lineup, especially if Biondi struggles – more on that in a later post.

Putting pressure on Lorenz this season will be redshirt freshman Kevin Krantz. Krantz is a converted shortstop that has spent the last year prepping for a move to the corner, especially with the signing of Derek Dennis to lock down shortstop for the foreseeable future. Krantz put up pinball like numbers in high school playing weak teams in the Traverse City area, but he was widely considered a D1 prospect anyway.

That brings us to short stop and the aforementioned Derek Dennis. Dennis is widely heralded as Michigan's best signing in the last decade, maybe two. The kid was drafted in the 7th round of the MLB draft by the Rays and turned down their $700,000 contract to play at Michigan. He's a 5-tool player with a good glove, solid arm, quick bat speed, some gap-to-gap power, and a pretty good base runner on top of all that. Hopefully his size and range will help solidify our defense at shortstop, a place we had quite a bit of trouble with last year.

That's Dennis legging out a triple in the fall game against an overmatched team from Ontario. You can also see a video of his first hit in the game, a double off the brick monster in left.  You can see he has some power and speed, also looks like a baseball player in the build. Now to see him live up to the last player to wear #19, Kevin Cislo.

We still have to see how Dennis adjusts to college pitching, though, so don't set your standards too high just yet. Maloney will be batting Dennis at the bottom of the lineup to work him in slowly. This seems like a solid place for the freshman as your third best contact hitter is usually placed here as a lead off man at the bottom of the order. Coach Maloney's current plan has Dennis here to start the year, and whenever LaMarre finally leaves for the pros, Dennis will take over the 3-hole.

Coming Up Next

I'm going to lump the catchers and outfielders together in the next post as this is getting a bit long already. After that I'll move to a look around the BigTen and our schedule overall. I'll try to have a weekend preview up for the Texas Tech tournament by Friday.

Baseball Roster Updates

Baseball Roster Updates

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on October 14th, 2009 at 5:31 PM

The roster was released for fall ball last week with all of this year's current changes. The four lost still had eligibility left, but I'm not sure where they are, whether finishing at Michigan or transferring to find playing time. That's not uncommon in baseball. There will probably be a couple more tweaks to the roster before the actual season starts, and those will be dealt with closer to the season.

Lost:

  • Adam Arbour – Not a big loss as only saw very limited playing time. Stuck behind Chris Berset and Coley Crank in the depth chart.
  • Bryce Aspinwall – Loss is pretty meh. Aspinwall had 10 at bats last season but made the most of them. I thought he had a pretty good shot of taking over for a graduated Fellows. Apparently not.
  • Jim Bircher – No real loss. Had one pinch runner appearance all last season.
  • Jake McLouth (yes, younger brother to the major leaguer Nate McLouth) – Definitely the biggest name lost from last year. There had been rumors that he wasn't going to stick around, and it appears that rumor stuck. McLouth was the DH for Michigan last year, hitting .272 in 151 at bats (6th on team). That's a big hole to fill.

    My intital thought is that Garrett Stephens will take over the DH role, with some support by Coley Crank. Stephens was our top bench player last year, filling in at first base when Mike Dufek would close out games. Stephens also tore it up all summer in his wood bat league, earning all Prospect League honors.

    Graduated:

  • cislo Kevin Cislo – Loss is huge. My guess has Toth moving to second base to fill his hole defensively, opening up short stop for freshman Derek Dennis. We also lose Cislo as our lead off hitter. That's a bigger loss. (Pictured to the right by MGoBlue.com)
  • Kenny Fellows – Loss is pretty big here as we also lose our #2 hole hitter. I wouldn't be surprised to see Biondi to move into his outfield position, especially with the loss of Aspinwall.
  • Chris Fetter – Again with the huge losses. There goes one of the top starting pitchers Michigan has ever had. He ate up innings (even if it sacrificed his quality down the stretch) and saved us from using the super weak bullpen last year.
  • Ben Jenzen – Not much of a loss based on last season. Jenzen was injured the previous year and didn't make it back to play. He would have been a key part of the bullpen or even starting rotation last year had he been healthy.
  • Tim Kalczynski – Loss is medium. As a team captain last year, he was the super utility player. He filled in for an injured Chris Berset and shared third base duties with John Lorenz. Timmy Kal's bat won't be too badly missed. He only hit .234 last year in 107 at bats, with only 8 extra base hits.
  • Mike Wilson – Wilson's loss isn't a killer. In 2007, he had the conference in his hand, earning All-Region for his efforts on the mound. In 2008, he lost his touch. In 2009, well, he only made it into 13 games, including 4 starts. In the end, he finished with a 5.07 ERA in 27 innings. The 24 walks to 23 K's ration was also a killer, not to mention the .328 opponent batting average.

Number Changes:

  • Anthony Toth from 16 to 5 (previously McLouth's number)

New Additions:

  • John DiLaura, C – I did a brief write up on DiLaura when still at VarsityBlue. He is a solid hitting catcher, earning Division 1/Dream Team All State  honors, who has experience at third and second base. With two catchers in the recruiting class ahead of him, including Coley Crank, if he makes an impact this season, it will be because Chris Berset misses time again and Crank struggles.
  • Kyle Clark, RHP – Clark was a four year starter at Portage Central HS of Michigan as a pitcher and first basemen. He's been brought on to pitch in Ann Arbor. He was runner up for his team's pitcher of the year in 2009, and finished with All Conference honors (he was All Conference and All District as a junior) despite having a season ending knee injury. The injury was a strange one. While playing third base, he went to field a slow roller and the knee just buckled. He finished the year 4-1 with 25.2 innings pitched and a 2.18 ERA. Clark has since recovered, and pitched in a summer league team (A. Green, along with Biondi and Michigan signee gone pro Daniel Fields), so he is good to go.
  • A1-DEREK_WE_C_^_WEDIQ Derek Dennis, SS – One of our two draft picks not to go pro, Dennis was an 8th round pick with the Devil Rays. He was considered either the top or second best position player in the state of Michigan this last year (Division 1/Dream Team All State), and he projects to make an impact early. I'm thinking we see Toth move to second base to open the door for 4 years of Derek Dennis at short stop.  (Pictured to right by Grand Rapids Press)
  • Zach Johnson, DH – Johnson is a big guy at 6'3", and he's also really versatile. During his senior season at Grandville HS, he was their top pitcher, their top catcher, and according to his high school coach, he "could've been [their] best infielder, too." Johnson hit .438 and held a on base percentage of .541. On the mound, he was extremely dominant with an ERA of 1.81, record of 4-2, and a 9 strike outs per 9 innings pitched ratio. So while he's listed as a DH now, he could end up playing just about anywhere to get his bat into the line up. 
  • Patrick Biondi, OF – The second of our two non-signing draft picks, Biondi was a very late round pick of the Tigers. He's played center field primarily, which makes him a prime candidate to come in and start. Ryan LaMarre isn't a pure centerfielder, and I definitely can see him moving to left field (vacated by Fellows). In 2009, Biondi earned Louisville Slugger All American status as an outfielder, which speaks volumes of his talent. He was also All State Division II/Dream Team.
  • Michael Kershner, RHP – Kershner comes from Oakland, CA where he won a North Coast Section Division IV title in his senior season. Kershner threw a complete game in the championship game to win it all.  At 6'3", 160, he'll probably spend a year building up strength, but he could potentially see time in his first year. PerfectGame.Org describes him as:

Lean and lanky build with projection. Works from ¾ arm slot with a long and extended arm action. He ran his fastball up to 86 in San Diego and it showed good life. He throws with lower effort and shows poise on the mound, changing speeds with his 11-5 breaking ball.

  • Ben Ballantine,  RHP – I did a write up on Ballantine at VarsityBlue as well during his recruitment. Ben is a 6'8" pitcher out of California, and he chose Michigan because of the work Rich Maloney and his staff has done with other tall pitchers, namely Chris Fetter. Ballantine decided to pick the jersey sure to fit him, Chris Fetter's #41 jersey. That's some awfully big shoes to fill. I don't see him cracking the rotation this year, but he'll probably start seeing playing time early and often this season as Maloney turns him into the next big starter for Michigan.
  • Cameron Luther, 1B – Luther is another one of the Michigan All State players at the Division II level, but his is for power. "Cam" hit a home run in nearly all news articles I have found on him. That said, I can't find any specific stats on his season. MGoBlue.com described him thusly (before his senior season):

Luther, a three-time all-district performer for coach Eric Dunapilis at St. Joseph, has 19 home runs in three varsity seasons and hit .431 as a junior. A powerful first baseman, Luther had a breakout summer of 2008 with the Kalamazoo Maroons, hitting .429 while slugging 1.021 with 19 home runs.

  • Bennett Howard, IF – He shows up on the roster at fall ball. A thorough google search comes up with nothing. He's from New Jersey. That's all I got.
  • Samuel Cleary, RHP/IF/OF – Cleary comes from Ann Arbor's Huron HS. I haven't found much about him as I believe he is a walk-on at fall try-outs. He had a few academic honors in 2008. I believe he was a middle infielder at Huron, but he has the ultimate utility listing of pitcher/infielder/outfielder on the current roster. If anything he is an academic walk-on that provides depth.

EDIT: I looked over Rickey Samuel, which is definitely a poor choice to skip. Thanks go to wolverinebandit for pointing out the error.

Ricky Samuel, OF – Samuel is another All State Dream teamer from last year. He is listed as an outfielder on our roster, but the lefty also was a solid pitcher in high school. Samuel has 3 main pitches, a fastball (touches upper 80s), a sharp breaking ball, and a changeup. That said, he's only considered an above average prospect as a left handed pitcher.

His swing, however, is considered his main selling point. The best summary of his senior season I could find came from this Detroit News article written right before the district playoffs:

Going into […] Division 1 pre-district game against Walled Lake Northern at Walled Lake Central, Samuel was batting .510 with 35 RBIs, 41 runs, nine doubles, three triples, six home runs, 23 walks and 22 stolen bases. He has a .608 on-base percentage and a .840 slugging percentage. As a pitcher he's 6-2 with one save. In 48 innings he's struck out 87 with an ERA of 2.90. Opposing batters are hitting .169.

That's spectacular. Depending on how we use Alan Oaks this year, Samuel has a chance at making it in the outfield as well. Oaks is high risk/high reward in the outfield. His defense isn't great (it isn't poor either), he has major power, but Alan just strikes out way too much. If he gets converted to a starting pitcher, which seems likely based on the end of last season and his summer league numbers, Samuel could see a lot of time in right field.