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UNLV Long on Experience to Begin Season

The Rebels will have a very experienced lineup and rotation for the coming season. Could that spell a championship for the next season? Um, could be, but the games do have to be played.

Patrick Armstrong
Patrick Armstrong
Peter Lockley/NCAA Photos

UNLV Will Have Veteran Lineup Leading Into the Season

I know I can be wrong. I still write these articles knowing it's a lot of wrong wrapped up in some right. But, as I write this one, I notice that the 2013 baseball roster had no seniors. How can that be? It may be that the one I have in print doesn't include any of the seniors. That means all come back except those drafted and signed and, maybe, a player or two unhappy with their situation. That happens a lot; everywhere. So, if I read all of this correctly, the Rebels will be returning a very experienced bunch.

The Rebels had more than a decent season last year and ended up with nothing to show for it. I'm guessing they were probably on the bubble for an NCAA berth in the postseason and lost that chance by not winning or being in the final of the MWC Tournament.

It doesn't matter how I screwed up on last year's roster. What does matter is that I am right in saying they have a lot of experience coming back. They lose two good outfielders in Bayardi and Shannon to the draft. Those are the only two holes I could find as the returning starters all have pretty solid credentials to remain starters. They return two .300 hitters to the left side of the infield and a pretty fair right side with the best hitter at first. That leaves catcher which also looks pretty good. Wow; no holes on the infield. I am impressed. So who might get shots at the outfield for newcomers? Jonathan Torres stands out for me and he's a juco transfer so he's a little more experienced and ready to go. Incoming players are a little short in the outfield so I suspect a returning player will get the nod for one of the outfield positions. This is a tough one but I'm going with Dylan Ellis as he showed promise in limited action. DH could be Morgan Stotts as he certainly hit a ton while at Southern Nevada.

The pitching staff is pretty close to the position players in terms of who comes back. They lose top starter Borden to the pros but retain three good arms for the weekend games. There are a few others with some experience as starters but none with more than two starts. That's depth. I go out on a limb a bit here as I think Brayden Torres has the stuff to be the closer even though he had only 27 IP and one save last year. That leaves only one starter and that will be for Tuesday games. I thought freshman David Kuzma might have a shot as a starter in the rotation but I don't see him on the roster. Redshirt? Didn't show? The Rebels certainly have a number of candidates for the final spot in the rotation that are returning but I always like to go out on a limb. This time I put my vote down for Andrew Encinas who was pretty good in high school and, more importantly, he's a lefty.

C - Erik VanMeetren - .299 and 0
1B - Patrick Armstrong - .373 and 7
2B -Matt McCallister - .283 and 2
SS - T.J. White - .335 and 1
3B - Joey Armstrong - .324 and 0
OF - Joey Swanner - .299 and 0
OF - Jonathan Torres - juco transfer
OF - Dylan Ellis - .538 and 0
DH - Morgan Stotts - juco transfer

SP - Erik Fedde - 7-3 and 3.92
SP - John Richy - 7-5 and 4.33
SP - Kenny Oakley - 4-2 and 3.21
SP - Andrew Encinas - freshman
RP - Brayden Torres - 0-0 and 3.00 (1 save but 29 strikeouts in 27 IP)

Another year older and what do you get? No, not another year older and deeper in debt as Tennessee Ernie Ford said in his famous song "16 Tons". You get an experienced and good team that could be much better than last season. If that's true, then they could win the MWC and make a showing in the NCAA Tournament. Promising, very promising.