No Where to go but Up for San Jose State in 2014
Those of you who have been reading my tripe for years know that it is about now when I start putting up what I think will be the starting lineups for the teams in the MWC (used to be for the WAC). A lot of it is guesswork but at least we can see what teams have as possibilities. I'll start with a team I know and then go with the rest of the MWC.
The Spartans did not distinguish themselves this past season. Hitting was ok but with little pop. The pitching was the main culprit as both starters and relievers had their runs of bad luck or just plain awfulness. Coach Nakama seemingly has gone out and signed every able-bodied kid (especially pitchers) in the state of California. I exaggerate, of course, but he has signed a lot of recruits. I think that means faces we saw last year may not be there this year and I don't mean graduated seniors. Since I follow the program quite closely I know some kids are gone and that's stuff that never makes the news. I am not privy to such information for the other programs so, as I try to come up with starting lineups for the coming season, don't laugh, help me out, post comments, or send me money. Yeah, I like the last idea. Just kidding, of course.
There are some good things that could happen to the Spartans this coming season. For one thing, they return the top four hitters from last season and two of those made second team All-WAC (Andre Mercurio and Matt Carroll). The lineup could be very different from last season as they also lost some good ones such as a good shortstop (Acosta) and three outfielders (Quiery, Schulz, and Gehrlach). The three outfielders fought for time in the corner positions as Mercurio has centerfield nailed down. Second base seems to be Jacob Valdez and first belongs to Carroll. It's the left side of the infield that is wide open. Coach told me that Valdez better keep his bags packed as he may move to any of the infield positions outside of first. Who, then, might get short and/or third. I suspect a newbie for both. I need to go out on some limbs here so I'll start with shortstop and put incoming freshman Andrew Hermanson in. That leaves third and another limb where I go with Alec de Watteville. Guess who gets left out in all these question marks? Sheldon Daquioag who hit a respectable .295 and 1 last year but had troubles in the field no matter where he played. I am putting him at DH and this will be his senior year. Catcher is set as Kyle Gallegos comes back after a year off.
The outfield is set in center with Mercurio who can chase down a fly with the best of them. Expect a lot of triples from him. Exciting player. The corner positions are open but Matt Lopez looks to start in left and freshman Brett Bautista will be at the top of the list for right field as it stands now.
Pitching. Wow, does that need work. With a team ERA of 6.30 you have to think every new arm has a chance to start. That's how I'm thinking, anyway. To begin with, 37 starts are gone. Let's talk four starters; three for the weekend and a Tuesday starter. Last year's gutsy lefty will be a weekend starter as he has the experience. I'm talking about Johnny Melero and he'll be a senior and his game must improve. A freshman All-state pick that looks good is RHP Austin Ragsdale. A juco guy that looks good is Jace Puckett, another lefty. Freshman RHP Michael Wright who happens to be another all-state selection is a possibility to be another regular starter. No matter who starts it will be a young and inexperienced staff. The closer will be the reliable Kalei Contrades. In closing - - -
c - Kyle Gallegos. He returns after a year's layoff.
1B - Matt Carroll. Second team All-WAC. .341 and 2.
2B - Jacob Valdez. .317.
SS - Andrew Hermanson. Freshman.
3B - Alec de Watteville. Freshman.
OF - Matt Lopez. .250.
OF - Andre Mercurio. Second team All-WAC. .315.
OF - Brett Bautista. Freshman.
DH - Sheldon Daquioag. .295 and 1.
SP - Johnny Melero. 0-7 and 7.82.
SP - Austin Ragsdale. Freshman.
SP - Jace Puckett. Juco transfer.
SP - Michael Wright. Freshman
RP - Kalei Contrades. 2-3 and 4.50 with 2 saves.
Other key players: Daniel Chavez (Senior RHP), Logan Handzlik (Freshman RHP), Tyler Olivet (Junior OF), and Jake Swiech (freshman RHP).
Are there others that will make an impact on this lineup? You bet. Some with something to prove and others just trying to make the team. That's always the way it is.