Welcome back, Texas baseball fans!
Last we left you the Horns were (memory deleted) in Omaha, an experience so (memory deleted) that I decided to (memory deleted).
It wasn't pleasant.
But we're back and ready for Fall Ball. This year the Horns are eschewing their typical scrimmage against another school for a three game split-squad scrimmage amongst themselves. It's three games, winner take all! The winner will be showered with praise; the loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore!
The Horns begin action tonight at 6 PM, game two is at 6 PM on Wednesday and the finale will be played next Monday at 4 PM. All of the action is on the Longhorn Network and there will be some pretty interesting positional battles to look out for.
Texas has lost four players of note from the 2014 squad: CF Mark Payton, SP Nathan Thornhill, SP Dillon Peters and RP John Curtiss.
Replacing that production won't be easy, but for the first time in a long while it feels like Texas is ready to reload rather than rebuild.
Some of the names/positions to keep an eye on are:
Let's assume Parker French and Chad Hollingsworth are your first two weekend starters. That leaves Morgan Cooper with the inside track for the third starter gig. That leaves a bevy of arms, including converted infielders Andy McGuire and Kacy Clemens to battle it out for the remainder of the bullpen spots and midweek starter role. Per Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers, freshmen Kyle Johnston and Connor Mayes have both impressed early on.
Here are the guarantees for Texas amongst the position players:
Tres Barrera will catch, DH or play first. Brooks Marlow and CJ Hinojosa will man 2B and SS respectively. Connor Shaw and Ben Johnson will start in two of the three outfielder spots. Zane Gurwitz will either play 3B or be the other outfielder. That leaves three spots open.
Bret Boswell ended up taking a redshirt year last year before having a pretty good showing this past summer. Boswell's probably the primary option at 3B if Gurwitz doesn't stick there. Andy McGuire could be another option though he may be converting to a pitcher. Redshirt junior Taylor Stell and redshirt freshmen Ben Kennedy would seem to have the inside track on the third outfield spot though the scrimmages could help identify new candidates for those roles.
Perhaps the most interesting development will be what happens with the C/1B/DH triumvirate. Barrera wasn't fantastic defensively although that's largely to be expected for a freshman catcher. He did throw out stealing baserunners at a solid clip, so that's good. Barrera could be moving to first base this year, however, to make room for freshman giant Michael Cantu. Cantu comes to campus measuring 6'3", 237 lbs and represents Augie's best incoming freshman. Assuming Cantu/Barrera handle C/1B, that leaves only DH available to go to the hottest hand which will hopefully be someone.
2014 may have ended (memory deleted), but 2015 is shaping up to be quite bright. This'll be your Orange-White Fall World Series open thread.