Freshmen in MW Baseball Making an Impact
I just returned from three weeks in South America touring the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. I'm also a birder and I got my fill in the Ecuadoran cloud forest for a short two-day blast. I'd post pictures but I think y'all are more interested in curve balls than you are curve-bills. They don't play that much baseball down there as you might guess.
I'm far too behind to even talk about games so how about I assess the baby-faced performers better known as freshmen in the MWC? Good. Read on.
San Jose State
The Spartans are undergoing another horrid and disappointing year. However, they have a bunch of young faces and a few are performing. The best two pitchers on a team pretty much devoid of good pitching are both from Hawaii; senior Kalei Contrades is a known quantity but newbie Turtle Kuhaulua is not. The freshman is performing quite well for the boys in blue as he is 0-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 21 IP strictly out of the pen. Another freshmen in the bullpen is Josh Nashed who is 3-2 and 2.57 in 21 IP also. His strikeout to walks ratio is a good 19/6. I hate walks. Where do the Spartans really hurt? Hitting and there are no freshmen helping much here.
San Diego State
The Aztecs are having a good year as expected and are tied with Nevada at the top of the MW standings. They are hitting a ton at .305 and two frosh are helping in that arena. Chase Calabuig is having a monster year while hitting .410 with one home run in 78 ABs. Teammate David Hensley is hitting a healthy .327 in 52 ABs so the Aztecs have two good freshmen hitters on a hitting team.
The Bulldogs are primarily a veteran outfit and have no freshmen standouts that I could find.
The Lobos are not doing as well as I thought they might. Their hitting is down a bit at .270 and it pains me to say that as San Jose State would be ecstatic if they were hitting at that clip. Anyway two frosh are performing well; one at bat and one on the mound. Cory Voss is hitting .372 with two home runs and leads the team in triples with five. He is also third on the team in RBIs with 16. Pretty productive if you ask me. On the pitching side, Tyler Stevens is 1-2 and 3.79 in 19 IP. He has had four starts in his nine appearances.
You'd think the 26th ranked and tied for top spot in the MWC Wolf Pack would be predominantly a veteran team with little from the fuzzy faced bunch adding to the output. Well, that is pretty much true but they do have a young'un helping out. Cal Stevenson is second on the team in hitting at .389 in 90 ABs and is second in hits with 35. That's a lot of productivity on a productive team.
The Rebels are having a surprisingly down year and are in danger of dropping past San Jose State into the cellar of the Mountain West. Do they have some freshmen helping them prevent such an occurrence? As a matter of fact, they do. Payton Squier is one of the team's top hitters at .330 and leads the team in hits with 34. I'd call that contributing. Austin Anderson is also adding his two cents worth at .318 in 66 ABs. Blaze Bohall (what a name!) is helping with the pitching end of the deal at 3-1 and 3.10 and has some command as he has a K/BB ratio of 3:1. Not bad for a young arm. So why are they so close to the cellar? I'd have to say returning vets are not producing due to injury or simply not performing.
The Falcons are struggling again this year and have a ton of freshmen. Only one is doing much and that's pitcher Michael Rieker. In only 10 innings he is 1-1 and 3.48 in six appearances.
There are quite a few hitters that are showing off their stuff as freshmen in the MW. However, I always go for pitching. I know I'll be accused of being a homer in choosing one of the few bright spots for the Spartans but, so be it. Besides, how can you beat that first name? Yes, Turtle Kuhaulua (yes, from Hawaii) is my poster boy for the Mountain West's frosh.