San Jose State Baseball - A year of what could have been and what might be
First, let me make this clear; I am just as disappointed about the last few years as anyone. BUT, I also think that Nakama will be back for, at least, one more year. This year he has been snake bit. The injury bug has taken his team out of any chance at improvement. Gone are Brett Bautista, David Campbell, Joe Balfour, and Daniel Harris. Bautista was the most painful because we all knew what he could and can do. Campbell has been a recent injury and I have no idea how long it has bothered him. Quite awhile according to the coaches. He has shown flashes of how good he could be but a lot remains to be seen. Balfour was the most painful for the pitching staff and so was Harris. Those were two arms that coach was counting on to help the rotation. Never happened. So two bats and two arms. That's a lot for this young team.
As of late the hitting has come around as the team BA is .278 (all stats are from a week ago) and I'd take that with better pitching. How much better would it have been with Bautista roaming left field? Hard to tell. In any event, it has improved. Michael Breen (.342) has been a pleasant surprise and he's not the only one. Aaron Pleschner (.281) and Joe Stefanki (.281) have also impressed. Josh Nashed is hitting .272 and must feel a big part of the team as he has been delivering on the mound, too. My vote as most improved is a kid that is hitting a mere .206 but has three jacks and that's Brendt Citta. This freshman has 20 RBIs which is good for fourth on the team. Most of this has been done in the last month or so as the early part of the season was a mystery to him. I predict big things for him. Shane Timmons and Ozzy Braff have both been delivering and it's too bad Braff is a senior. I would expect him to be drafted this June. Think about it; Timmons, Bautista, Breen, Pleschner, Stefanki, Nashed, Citta, and Campbell all return. That is a group of eight that will start and a few newbies coming in or others on the roster who should compete for positions. This part is rosy. Now on to a not-so-rosy area.
Pitching is still lost as a team ERA of 6.24 attests. Josh Nashed has emerged at least a little.The Spartans have had troubles finding three arms in the rotation that are reliable. One would do well and then crash in his next start. Nashed has done pretty well and has been somewhat reliable in the rotation. That's only one guy, they need at least three more.
Nashed, Matt Brown, and Graham Gomez have been the weekend three and all have ERAs in the fives. The bullpen has been no help. Hilario Tovar has been somewhat ok and that is a reserved ok. He has five starts so is he a starter or a reliever? Good question. He's tied for second on the team in strikeouts with 10 less innings so that part's good. As I look at the stats the one that really jumps out at me for too many of the guys is hits per inning. Far too many have given up more hits than innings.
That is only good when you walk close to no one. The one guy for whom I had the highest hopes is Logan Handzlik. He has had more than an ample chance to prove himself after so many injuries but it hasn't happened. His WHIP is 2.45 which is atrocious and he knows it. That's two and a half base runners an inning. You can' t survive doing that. So where is there hope with this staff?
Getting Joe Balfour and Daniel Harris back healthy and ready to go, that's where. If they can pitch as hoped that would take care of Friday and Saturday. Nashed and Tovar would probably duke it out for Sunday but, then again, Nashed probably deserves the #1 spot but that is really open for debate. The midweek games would be open to a number of guys such as Brown and Gomez.
So, how about recruits? I will deal with them if there are any stats.
Jackson Cunningham. West Ranch HS in SoCal. He's 3-1 and 4.16. He's second on the team in IP which is a good sign, ERA notwithstanding. He's averaging a tad over a K an inning but his WHIP is a bit high; too many hits. So, we'll see.
Jakob Gonzalez. La Mirada HS in SoCal. He's hitting a robust .453 at this point with one home run. He also pitches and is 5-1 and 1.29 in 43 IP with 49 strike outs. His K/BB ratio is about 5:1 which is great. He'll get a shot at both catching and pitching but where is he needed most? Coaches will decide and they are high on this kid.
Aidan Malm. Whitney HS. You're going to like this. He's hitting .625 in 19 games this year after hitting .413 last season. He appears to be a speedy outfielder as he has 13 SBs in those 19 games. Nah, doesn't appear he pitches. He knows his strengths.
Jeremy Polon. El Camino HS down in the LA area. I received some help from the SJS coaching staff in getting this kid's current stats. He has been great since his sophomore year. He was Pitcher of the Year for his conference in 2014. Same in 2015 but he also garnered MVP in the Los Angeles City Section (!!). He is well on his way to duplicating some of these awards this season. Currently, he is 6-0 and 1.65 with 58 strike outs in 51 IP. That's heads up stuff but he does walk a few too many for my taste. He's a lefty and should get a look at starting next year.
Nick Morales. John Bosco HS in SoCal. Graduates in 2017 so I won't talk much about him yet. I just heard about him recently. He's 4-3 and 2.60 in his junior year.
Tevin Cadola. Butte College. He's 9-2 and 1.94 with 92 strike outs in 93 IP. That's quite a work load but he's held up well. Yeah, he'll get a look too.
So there you have it. A lousy year with a lot to look forward to in 2017. I know some of you, uh, maybe most of you, want to change captains now. I can' t argue as there is little I can offer other than what I've written here. As a last note, I know that a few of the parents are positive with the program but are very disappointed about the record. That's all I need to know.