San Jose State Starts from Scratch for Lineup
Now it's time to look at possible lineups. I have my own ideas but all I have to use are last year's numbers and maybe an excellent recruit that I may think is better than the incumbent or, if vacant, anyone else that might be considered for the position. I've started with the Spartans as I know them a bit more than the other teams. To make things a little more believable, I've also contacted the coaches. In this case, Coach Nakama was gracious enough to send me his list of position players as well as pitchers. I was off a bit for the position players but Coach and I agreed on the weekend starters and possible closer. I'll list my guesses first along with notes. I've posted this elsewhere so not a lot new to the Spartans fans who follow my stuff. The Coach's list is new. Read on.
C - Jack Veasey (SO)
1B - Dave Campbell (FR)
2B - Tyler Olivet (JR)
3B - Josh Nashed (FR)
SS - Alec de Watteville (SO)
OF - Andre Mercurio (SR)
OF - Brett Bautista (SO)
OF - Dillan Smith (JR transfer)
DH - Chris Williams (FR)
SP - Kalei Contrades (SR)
SP - Logan Handzlik (SO)
SP - Jonathan Hernandez (JR)
RP - Myles Richard (SR)
COACH NAKAMA'S LIST:
C- Jack Veasey, Joe Stefanki (SO), Shane Timmons (FR)
1b- Chris Williams
2b- Ozzy Braff (JR)
3b- Michael Breen (SO) or David Campbell (FR)
SS- Kyle Morrison (FR) or Alec de Watteville
OF- Andre Mercurio
OF- Dillan Smith
OF- Turtle Kuhaulua (FR)
DH- Josh Nashed or Brett Bautista
SP- Kalei Contrades
SP- Jonathan Hernandez
SP- Logan Handzlik
RP- Myles Richard
C - Jack Veasey. He hit only .167 in 24 ABs. That's not a true measure of his worth at bat and the other catcher (Joe Stefanki) had fewer ABs with 3. This is a position that is long on hope. Shane Timmons is a freshman.
1B - Chris Williams. Another stretch of the old brain. Another freshman with a lot to prove. I mentioned in my recruit review that he ain't built for speed at 6'0" 235 but maybe he can hit like the Panda.
2B - Ozzy Braff. He's a juco transfer coming in as a junior. He's developed some power since his high school days and this is a lineup that is starved for power.
3B - Michael Breen. This sophomore saw next to nothing in playing time last year so Coach's putting him in as possible starter along with the next guy comes as a huge surprise. Others have told me to keep an eye on him as he can field. I would like to see some hitting at third. Dave Campbell. He's an incoming freshman. The infield is a minefield in that today's starter could be tomorrow's bench player. I like this kid. His size is right for a corner position at 6'3.
SS - Kyle Morrison who's a freshman and a local kid out of Leigh. Coach has the luxury of watching these guys day in and day out so it looks like he sees something in Kyle. Coach has him listed before Alec de Watteville. I like to plug in the incumbents but he needs to improve on all fronts. Hit only .245 which would have been ok if he had fielded his position as if he were the Giants' Brandon Crawford. He didn't but I think he can. 2B is also a possibility.
OF - Andre Mercurio without a doubt will be the centerfielder. He can cover as well as any the Spartans have had in recent memory. He hit .280 last season and that would be acceptable but I'd like to see him add maybe 20 points to that. If he can, then his threat as a base stealer gets the number two batter more fastballs. That's a good thing. A real gamer and a keeper; he could make All-MWC.
OF - Turtle Kuhaulua. One of three Hawaiians on the team. This freshman can also pitch so he's got an arm. If nothing else, I love his first name. If he produces, he could be the talk of the west coast.
OF - Dillan Smith. This is another shrug of the shoulders. Who will play right field? Whoever it is must have a gun for an arm and be pretty smart. Corey and Tyler Olivet might get shots also.
DH - Josh Nashed. I especially like what this freshman did in big games. He could get some time on the mound too. The Spartans really need to improve production from their corner infielders so he may move around. Brett Bautista. He led the team in hitting last year as a DH. Can he play the corner OF positions? We'll find out. The team will certainly need his bat. These two guys are listed by coach as one hits righty and the other lefty. Do the math.
Let's look at this. All four of the infield positions are open. Two of the three outfield positions are open. The regular catcher will be new and he'll be working with a staff that has had little success and most of the experience is gone. That's scary. Freshmen and untested players will need to show why they have been offered scholarships. Here's hopin'.
SP - Kalei Contrades. Kalei really bloomed in the second half of the season as a starter and he could be a monster as a Friday guy. As far as I'm concerned, he's a lock and a possible for end of season honors.
SP - Logan Handzlik. The sophomore did fairly well in his first season as a D1 starter. I know, 5.92 is nothing to brag about but he has grown in stature as well as smarts. He should do better this season.
SP - Jonathan Hernandez. He was winless at 0-7 in 2014 but coach kept throwing him out on the mound. It could have been trust on coach's part or "Who else do I have?"
Closer - Myles Richard. He closed last season and had 5 saves. He didn't strike out a lot but he didn't walk many either. So, if nothing else, he has it by default.
The rotation has returning arms but only Contrades looks like somebody opposing batters see as fearsome. Handzlik and Hernandez will be pushed by a bunch of new arms. The midweek games will be the testing grounds for new guys looking for a start on the weekend rotation. Coach has to have someone he can trust out of the pen to stop the bleeding when the starter doesn't have it. Matt Brown, Turtle Kuhaulua, Josh Nashed, and Daniel Harris look promising as no one other than Kalei is a lock. You parents reading this; take heart. Your son has a chance to make an impact on this evolving team.