What are your expectations for the 2019 team?
Ryan Monceaux – College baseball junkie (and other stuff): My expectations for the 2019 team are pretty low, honestly. I believe this program should compete for a conference title and make a regional every season.
But expectations in college baseball are always dependent on starting pitching. And maybe more than any season since 2001, this rotation is completely up in the air. I’m fairly certain we will see 6+ guys start a weekend game at some point in 2019.
This weekend’s starters are scheduled to be LHP Tyler Bielamowicz (0-2, 11.00 ERA in 2018), RHP Ryan Randel (5-4, 4.58) on Saturday, and LHP Lael Lockhart Jr. (1-2, 6.64) closing out the weekend. The two lefties are unproven as pitchers at this level – they combined for 29 runs given up in 29.1 innings last year.
We’ll see lots of relievers this weekend – pitching coach Terry Rooney will have all 3 starters on a pitch count (it was right at 75 on opening weekend a year ago). The Coogs have a lot of arms but it is anyone’s guess about who will step up and contribute. Carter Henry and JUCO transfer Tristen Bayless are the guys I’m most interested to watch out of the pen.
Brad Towns – Mid-90s Starting Pitcher (and other stuff): I really don’t have any expectations because I honestly have no idea what we have this year. I would hope we are competing for a conference title and getting into a regional. But this year feels like a crapshoot. We could continue to be the same type of team we have been over the last few years or we could completely fall off the map.
Monceaux: You really went out on a limb there.
What player are you most interested in watching?
Towns: Jared Triolo is the guy I will be watching. He was solid as a freshman and broke out as a sophomore to lead the team in hitting. Then he goes to the Cape Cod League over the summer and improves even more. If he continues on this trajectory he could have a big year for the Coogs.
I am looking for Triolo to take the next step in his development and hit for more power and become a better run producer. He has the ideal size for 3rd base at 6’4″ 220 and I’d be excited if he can add the power game to go with it.
Useless fact: Triolo is listed as a 4th round prospect by D1Baseball.com (71st overall).
Monceaux: Tyler Bielamowicz. Bielamowicz was the team’s spark at the plate at the end of last season. He moved into the lead-off spot for the last 11 games of the year – hitting .375 with at least one hit and a run scored in all 11 games (OBP: .479). Will he have the same sort of impact at the plate in 2019 – especially if he’s a starting pitcher? I’m curious to see if he will DH tonight or in his other starts.
Useless fact: His full name (Tyler Jacob Bielamowicz) is worth 53 points in Scrabble.
What is your biggest area of concern?
Towns: I am always concerned about our hitting, but pitching is a big concern this year. We always have good arms and we always have guys who are going to compete. One thing we don’t have this year is a returning starter or standout reliever that is poised to the go-to guy. Our opening weekend rotation of Bielamowicz, Randel and Lockhart is the perfect example: they could be great, but they haven’t been great up to this point.
Monceaux: Dead outs. Spots in the lineup where you just can’t expect a hit. We’ve had way too many of them in the lineup the last few years. Will this (seemingly) improved lineup have 9 guys that can hit at this level?
Kyle Lovelace turned it on at the end of 2018 after hitting under .100 for the first 2/3 of the season. He’s a guy that has to be more consistent throughout the season. And Drew Minter has to hit higher than .200 (2018 BA) to keep a starting spot in what looks to be a deep group of outfielders.
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Just two goofballs talkin’ about the Coogs.