VandyBoys Preview 2012 – Prelude to a Delayed Release
A series of real world events have strapped me of the time needed to finish my annual preview of the Vanderbilt baseball team. As a result, I’m publishing instead this short weekend preview for the Stanford series.
I still intend to conduct a five-part preview of the (i) newcomers, (ii) pitchers, (iii) position players, (iv) season schedule and (v) future recruiting classes. That said, they likely won’t be done until the home opener next week, at the earliest. I also intend to continue the tradition of the Week Behind, Week Ahead recaps, starting Monday morning.
In the meantime, Vanderbilt has announced the starting rotation for the Stanford series this weekend. Some quick thoughts and a few videos after the jump.
Click through to keep reading.
Vanderbilt is visiting Sunken Diamond and the Stanford Cardinal on Friday at 7:30 CT, Saturday at 3:00 CT and Sunday at 3:00 CT. All games are viewable using the upgraded CSTV XXL Monthly subscription to one’s All-Access account. Most SEC schools utilize the CSTV All-Access system, meaning an upgrade permits one to view most all road series in 2012. Friday night’s game can be viewed at this link. You can also listen to the free radio feed for all three games here.
Sophomore lefty Kevin Ziomek will get the ball in the season opener. After posting a 1.59 ERA and going 3-0 in 45.1 innings last year, the Omega Man will be making his sixth start in a Commodore Uniform. Across the other bullpen, he’ll face off against consensus preseason All-American Mark Appel. Appel was named the top prospect on Team USA last summer and can run a fastball up to the high 90s off his 6’5″, 215 lb frame. That said, the Stanford bats lit him up in the first scrimmage of the Spring.
On Saturday, much ballyhooed newcomer Tyler Beede will make his Vanderbilt debut. The freshman phenom was the only 1st round pick in the 2011 MLB draft to choose college over signing and he’ll be bringing a stellar three pitch assortment to bear on the Cardinal bats. A low 90s fastball is the baseline pitch and is complemented by a curveball that Beede has worked with Coach Johnson on since the fall and a dominating changeup that serves as the primary out-pitch. Beede will face off with Brett Mooneyham, another top draft prospect from Stanford. The 6’5″, 215 lb lefty junior has great stuff, but has a history of wildness, walking 116 batters in 154.1 career innings. The key for both starters will be to establish off speed pitches in the strike zone early.
On Sunday, Coach Corbin will turn the ball to junior Sam Selman. After seven appearances (with a 1.42 ERA in 6.1 innings) in 2011, Selman will really be throwing his first meaningful innings as a Commodore. The borderline 1st round MLB draft prospect has, quite simply, the best pure stuff on the team. His combination of a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider come out of a tough arm slot on batters. If he’s throwing strikes, there might not be a lefty in the nation with a more dominating one-two combo. After two years of learning under Derek Johnson and building up his frame, the 6’3″, 190 lb southpaw will face either A.J. Vanegas (6’3″, 215 lb sophomore RHP), who went 1-0 with a 3.35 ERA in 40.1 innings in 2011, or Dean McArdle (5’10”, 185 lb junior RHP), 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 57.2 innings.
It is believed that Beede beat out newcomer junior Drew Verhagen for the final weekend starting spot. Verhagen has been lights out in the Spring and will likely be featured in tandem with Will Clinard as the shut-the-door relievers throughout the weekend. My initial guess is that both will be used as “flex” shutdown guys, rather than simply being relegated to the final few outs. They’ll be joined in the bullpen by three freshmen pitchers who have really stood out in the Fall and Spring in Brian “Dramamine” Miller (a side-winding yogi of a right-hander) and southpaws Philip “Little Ball of Hate” Pfeifer and Jared “Bigger Unit” Miller. Although other relievers will likely see action over the weekend, those five stand out as the guys most likely to see key matchups in pressure situations.
A year ago, when the Cardinal visited the Hawk, some of the projected starters saw action. The news was not so kind for Kevin Ziomek, who relieved Taylor Hill in Vanderbilt’s 8-7 Saturday win. Ziomek only yielded 2 runs in 3 innings, but he was peppered for 7 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Only two other active Commodore pitchers saw action for the Dores, with Will Clinard throwing in the Friday and Sunday games. He allowed 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks over 3 innings, striking out 2. Keenan Kolinsky appeared in the Sunday Stanford win, allowing only a walk in 1.2 innings.
On the Stanford side of the rubber, the Commodores handled, but did not break through, against Mark Appel, who was defeated by Sonny Gray by a 2-1 score. The Dore bats scratched out 7 hits and drew 3 walks against just 3 strikeouts over 6 innings. More importantly, they forced Appel to throw 100 pitches in those innings. Vanderbilt was less kind to Dean McArdle, who threw 46 pitches in just 1.1 innings, yielding 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks as the Saturday game starter. AJ Vanegas also pitched in the Saturday game, hitting a batter and giving up a hit in a scoreless 8th inning. If I recall correctly, Mooneyham was injured and unable to pitch that weekend. Also notable is the draft departure of Chris Reed, the Stanford closer who was arguable the best left handed reliever Vanderbilt faced in 2011 (at least until meeting Florida’s Nick Maronde and Steven Rodriguez).
Vanderbilt has not released a starting lineup, but it’s a good bet you’ll see a starting outfield of Tony Kemp, Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski. Anthony Gomez and Riley Reynolds will return up the middle, while Conrad Gregor and freshman Vicente Conde are expected to man the corners (though Joel McKeithan is still in the conversation to start at third base). Spencer Navin should be the opening day catcher and I expect Jack Lupo will have beaten out freshman Chris Harvey for the designated hitter spot, though I do not have any direct information on the DH battle.
[UPDATE – After this preview was posted, Vanderbilt released a projected starting lineup that features McKeithan at third and Harvey in the designated hitter role. This author is duly humbled and will immediately be returning to getting everything right.]
All in all, it should be a great weekend. Stanford’s lineup features two position player All-American candidates in third baseman Stephen Piscotty (.364, 3 HR, 40 RBI) and shortstop Kenny Diekroeger (.293, 2, 31). With only 33 stolen bases in 49 attempts in 2011, Stanford may try to go station to station against a Vanderbilt offense that is expected to utilize its dominating speed and keen #Vanderbunting ability to manufacture runs. All in all, Go Dores!
Preview Videos from VUCommodores.com
Coach Corbin recently gave DeMarini a tour of the Vanderbilt baseball facilities.
And Vanderbilt released a pair of behind the scenes videos regarding this year’s marketing baseball photo shoot.