Washington Baseball truly is hidden in the shadow of Husky Stadium. With the stadium torn down now is the time for the program to step up and make a play. It's easier to find women's volleyball coverage with opening day this week. Every time they glance at the rising construction to the South I hope this team realizes the opportunities before them... Lux sit!
Enough of this 2011 rain, 17-37 overall and 6-21 PAC-10 record. When you finish in the basement the last year of the PAC-10 you can only go up. We can talk about that abysmal season while projecting the 2012 season on Opening Day. The focus this week will be on the present group of ballplayers sporting the 'W' with pride. Like the scent of a new car, we can only enjoy the freshness of '12 for so long, so lets get to the good stuff.
College baseball is a spectator sport. If you really want to see what a player and team can do you have to go watch them play. The PAC-12 network, once launched, will herald a new day for its baseball fans. The premier NCAA Baseball conference should have television coverage, period. Until then we have the internets.
I can only give you true player analysis after watching the games. I'm not one to read a few articles and regurgitate my own cut-an-paste write ups, though links will be a plenty. At this point, all I can go off is a few interviews from Coach Meggs and the '11 Baseball season stats in regards to the depth chart, rotation, lineup and each players' current development point. 57% of the 2012 roster is new, 20 out of 35.
'12 Starting Rotation
Overall we are young, but deep returning 7 and adding 9, of which 7 are JC transfers. The PAC-12 is obviously still a big step up, and will be something to watch in the early going. The Skipper hasn't buttoned down his rotation just yet, and I don't blame him for opening it all up for competition with the talent-to-experience gap so small. They replaced what they "lost" (when you finish dead last, do you lose much?) from 2011 and even upgraded a few spots. Keep in mind this is opening week, and as players get healthy/injured and young arms grow under Dangler the rotation can and most likely will change throughout the season.
If you read between the lines you can tell he has a good idea where to put the pieces already, but why not open it up for the time being and see what shakes down? Going this route will help with team chemistry as well; you respect what is earned far more than what is given. The first couple weeks of the season will be up and down as the cream rises to the top, so have a little patience as this group finds their collective identity and roles.
* 1st Year
Weekday Starters (Alphabetical): RHP Aaron West, RHP Zach Wright
RHP Aaron West
2011 UW: 1-8 / 5.18 ERA / 73 IP / 90 H / 50 R / 42 ER / 18 BB / 44 K's
2011 Humboldt Crabs: 7-0 / 0.17 ERA / 54 IP / 23 H / 2 R / 1 ER / 11 BB / 83 K's
Something was in the air down in Arcata, CA, and it has 'Humboldt' written all over it. 2 years ago this March, West underwent Tommy John Surgery and received a medical red-shirt for '10. Judging by his stat line he wasn't ready to go for the '11 season. This will be the first, and best example of the differences between PAC-12 and Summer League Baseball. Before surgery he was a top-10 round draft pick (baseball is that much bigger, football) and was passed over entirely last June. His Far West League season line shows how pissed off he was. He hit 92-93 mph consistantly and peaked at 95 according to reports during the summer, but needs to develop his secondary pitches and another "out" pitch. A 0.17 ERA and 83 K's over 54 IP with 5 complete games; if he can do something close to that we have a good shot at finishing above .500.
RHP Zach Wright
2011 UW: 0-0 / 2.43 ERA / 33.1 IP / 23 H / 10 R / 9 ER / 10 BB / 21 K's
Another local product out of Kentlake HS, Wright can hit 90 mph on the gun and has wicked change-up to screw internal clocks with. In his first season he performed admirably leading team in ERA and deserves a chance to compete with West for weekday innings.
Weekend Starters: *LHP Mac Acher, *RHP George Asmus, RHP Jeff Brigham, *RHP Steven Swift, RHP Austin Voth
*LHP Mac Acher
2011 Columbia Basin College: 5-1 / 1.49 ERA / 54.33 IP / 36 H / 16 R / 9 ER / 23 BB / 43 K's
When you only have 2 southpaws on your opening day roster, you thank the stars above they're pitchers. You can mark that down as off-season recruiting priority #1: LHP's. At least this rookie spent last year winning the NWAACC MVP. A Redmond native, he went 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA for Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA. He can hit 92 on the gun but needs polishing on the mental side. You can't just overpower hitters anymore, you have to locate and mix up your speeds. Something tells me he's gonna learn the hard way, but adapt quickly. Mac is also considered one of the teams best outfielders with a bat to boot, but the Dawgs need his arm on the front lines in '12. Don't be surprised to see him on the outfield depth chart and get some spot action, specifically as a pinch hitter.
*RHP George Asmus
"George is a notch back (from Acher) in terms of velocity; he is 90-91, and he has three pitches for strikes that he really knows how to pitch," says Meggs. "Where Mac (Acher) is a complete competitor and sometimes shoots first asks questions later where George is more methodical and can pitch backwards. He would be great on Saturday."
Coach Lindsay Meggs
That is pretty self explanatory. Unless someone completely shocks the staff Asmus will be our Sat. starter, and it is a logical fit. LHP power arm on Friday and RHP control guy on Sat. Oh, and the Cubs drafted him in the 24h round. Don't know if I would consider that a good thing...I kid; baseball needs the Cubs to make everyone feel like winners. I miss Harry Caray.
RHP Jeff Brigham
2011 UW: 4-1, 2 SV / 4.73 ERA / 51.1 IP / 52 H / 28 R / 27 ER / 18 BB / 30 K's
Jeff Brigham is nursing an injury and is expected back in the firs half of the season, leaving it essentially a 4 horse race for 3 starting spots. He started and pitched relief in a mediocre year, so he might be the odd man out now, with Coach Meggs appearing to give the veteran a soft landing with his choice of words as of late. I expect Brigham to work his way back into the bullpen and remain a solid middle inning eater, who can be a spot starter and fall back option in case of injury.
*RHP Steven Swift
2011 Diablo Valley College: 11-0 / 0.97 ERA / 93 IP / 62 H / 12 R / 10 ER / 17 BB / 71 K's
Meggs told us he was a Jamie Moyer clone. Well, basically, but not in those words. He might as well have, though. Swift has just enough arm speed to stay out of trouble (read: low to mid 80's), has 4 pitches he can locate for strikes and mixes like a blender (including variable speed I hope). When you stop overpowering hitters in HS after dominating middle school, you get smart and become a chess pitcher or go throw javelins. I know this guy, he is me. If Swift gets pushed back to the 'pen, which I think he might, he's a solid setup option for a power closer. Why? This archtype can match up against any batter he may face. Don't underestimate his consistency though; if he can keep opposing batters hitting the ball in the dirt, Swift just might sneak in and locate himself past Asmus.
RHP Austin Voth
2011 UW: 2-5 / 5.19 ERA / 69.1 IP / 80 H / 40 ER / 19 BB / 53 K's
Austin Voth won SPSL North 1st team honors, MVP and a 4A State Title in '10 for Kentwood HS, but struggled in his first campaign with the Dawgs. Voth is the only holdover from the '11 rotation and by all accounts had a great summer ball campaign. Either he gained 3 mph on his fastball overnight, or not all guns are tuned alike... Read through the coach speak and I am inclined to believe the former. I really hope we see Cape Cod League Austin Voth and not the '11 Dawg version. That is definitely a Freshman adjusting to Div-1 ball stat line. BB + H = ER. We learned this when we were young. Here is your proof; his 19 was second highest on the team. I hope he continues the improvement from last summer and doesn't start cold this year, for he could really shore up the back end of the rotation and establish the ability to win the series. I remember Lou Pinella always saying that when we lost, but he was right.
Projected to be “a Saturday, Sunday candidate”, his likely day in cleats is Sunday. Even though you'd rather have a Right-Left-Right rotation, going power-control-power can shut down more lineup combinations potentially.
Cont. in Part 2...