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2004 Tulane Fall Baseball Prediction

11/5/2003

 

**UPDATE 1/10/2004

 

Ricky Fairchild underwent Tommy John surgery, and is out for the season.   Get well soon Ricky!

Remember, you get what you pay for.  Here is my FREE outlook of the upcoming season.

The summary:

The strength of the 2004 Tulane baseball team is the returning pitching.   Depth at all of the positions is another strength.   We are 2 deep at all of the positions, and because of this, you might see a lot of players early in the season, as Rick tries to find his starting group. The team is a little banged up right now, but we have 3 months before the season opener.  I will be very interested in seeing how our offense does against the Tulane Alumni. 

Positional Breakdown:

Pitchers

43 of 44 wins return from last yearís squad, and all of Tulaneís starting pitchers return from last year, including the rotation of Hahn, Crowel, Mohl, Goebel, and Gomes.    The fall season did nothing to change this rotation.  J.R., Mohl, and Hahn all pitched as expected.   J.R. appears to have gained a few pounds (15, Iím told),  and Mohl looks to be in excellent shape, as well.  Iím very excited about this rotation, and it will be interesting to see how they do against Pepperdine, USC, and Arizona St. early in the season.

The next spot in the rotation is not as clear.   Gomes and Goebel will compete for the spot, although Gomes is a little banged up right now.   Also in the competition will be newcomer Chris Worster (Fr. Palm Beach).   Heís everything that I expected  (maybe more), but he is still a Freshman.   He has great off-speed pitches, and throws his fastball 91-92 mph.    Kimmons should also see some time this spring, as he has that great breaking ball.   Fairchild has that 91+ mph fastball, and had a great summer in the Alaska League.  Reedy (RS Fr.) and Latham (Fr, Northshore) both had good fall seasons, and I look forward to seeing them pitch this spring.  As I said, this is a very competitive position.

If I had to guess, and thatís what it is, a guess Ė Gomes (if healthy) gets the 4th spot.  Kimmons and Goebel get the 5th spot, or relief pitcher, dependant upon the number of games played that week.  Worster, Reedy and Latham should get some playing time early in the spring, and based on the results of that play, could find themselves in the starting rotation.  Additionally, my guess is that Fairchild will be your right hand reliever, and Joey your left hand reliever.   Bogusevic will also get some relief time, in addition to playing the outfield.   Ryan Martin is currently not pitching, as he is injured.

1st Base:

Hamilton is a hitter, plain and simple.  Even with a banged up wrist, I witnessed Hamilton get 4 hits off of 4 different pitchers in one fall ball game.   Defense needs to improve, but he should be fine.   Mann also spent some time at 1st base this fall.  Holland is also a possibility (more about him under 3rd base). 

2nd Base / SS

I had to lump these 2 together.   Manzella and Stringer.   My guess is that Tommy starts at Short, and Stringer at 2nd.   Tommy had a great day at Scout Day, and should be drafted at the end of the year.   How high?  My guess is that it depends on how well he hits.  He has the fielding tools, so if he hits well, maybe top 7 rounds, if he hits ok, top 15 rounds.  Please remember this is just my opinion.  If I had any talent at evaluating talent, I would work for MLB. 

Stringer Ė I was very impressed with this young man.  He certainly has all of the fielding tools, and seems to have a quick bat.   Made some good plays during fall ball, and I would expect middle infield to be our strongest fielding position on the team. 

3rd Base:

I was hoping that Fall Ball would shed some light on this position.   In some aspects, it did.   Transfer Holland (Blinn C.C.) had a very good fall season.   He is good in the field, and hit the ball very well.   This guy has to find a spot in the lineup.   If he starts at 3rd, then that bumps Bormaster to catcher.   Thatís not a knock on Bormaster, at all, as he also had a good fall season, and Bormaster was on the Johnny Bench Watch list for the best Collegiate Baseball catcher last year.  Knowing Jones, you might have some kind of platoon system, or simply playing the hottest hitter.    Last year, Timmy Guidry saw time at this position, but was injured for most of Fall Ball.  I do not know the status of him for the spring.

Catcher:

I am bringing up the catcher position right after 3rd, because they go hand in hand.  If Bormaster is not playing catcher, you would then look at Madden, Dini, or Mann.   Based on Fall Ball, Madden was the better hitter, and Dini was better defensively.   Mann is a little banged up, and Iím not sure on the time frame for him getting better physically.   Pyle looks good, but I think heís going to be the DH.  Pyle has hit some monster home runs in practice, but I want to see it in a game.

Outfield:

Returning starters Bogusevic, Southard, and Swackhammer should be the basis of the outfield for the 2004 season.   Southard showed great speed in the field, so look for him at Center (my guess only).  Swackhammer and Bogusevic will probably be in left and right field.  Swackhammer had a good fall, and hit several home runs.   According to the Scouts on Scout day, they feel Bogusevic is the best overall athlete on the team.   He will also see some time on the mound.   Barket and Rice should also see some playing time.

Utility:

Barket (Tr, Miami) impressed me with his hustle during the fall, and he hit well.   I have no idea where he will fit in the lineup, but in my opinion, heís earned some kind of playing time.   Rebowe (Fr. Destrehan) also had a good fall.  He spent time in the infield, and he might see some spot duty early in the season.   Will Rice  (Fr. Houston) also had a good fall in both hitting and fielding.  I assume that he will see some playing time in the outfield.   Griener (Fr New Orleans) also spent time in the outfield.   Slattery (RS Fr) spent time at 1st base, although Iím not sure where Jones will play him.   Walk on Robbie Whitman spent time in the infield, and will probably Redshirt this season, and be the bullpen catcher.  

Summary and Final Notes:

As always, Jones places a premium on hitting, and will play the hot hitter.   With so much depth at 3rd, catcher and outfield, hitting will always play a part in the decision of who to play.   Holland is a great utility infielder, and he can play at any of the infield positions, including 1st base from time to time.  

Hitting will determine how far this team goes.  Power hitters like Swackhammer, Pyle, Bogusevic, and Bormaster will have to drive in the runs, and hit their share of home runs.  Stringer, Rice, Manzella, Southard, and others will have to get on base, and also drive in their share of runs.   I really believe that we will succeed, or fail, this season based on how well we hit.

We have depth at pitching, and 43 of our 44 wins return from last year.   With everyone on a new training system, courtesy of coach Teague, our pitchers should be stronger, and last longer.   Pitching is definitely a strength this year.

TEAM CHEMISTRY. 

Several times this fall, people were talking about team chemistry.   I think this is the one factor that the team didnít have last year.   This year, everyone is talking about how good the team chemistry is.  

TALENT and ROLE PLAYERS.

When I look at the 2001 CWS team, 2 factors come to mind.  On that team, you had outstanding talent Ė Jurries, Gautreau, and Aubrey (and others), combined with role players.  I see similarities with this team.   Future draft choices - Manzella, Crowel, Bogusevic, Stringer, and Worster (and others), combined with role players.   This team has a World (Series) of potential.  I hope they find it.

NEW STADIUM 2005

By the way, for those that donít know, in October of 2003, Tulane approved hiring an architect for the NEW Turchin Stadium.   Construction should start at the end of the 2004 season, and finish at the end of the 2005 season.   Preliminary specifications are 5,000 seats, of which 3,500 are chairback seats.   The new stadium will have 5 or 6 party rooms, a press box, and a covered grandstand.

 See you in February, and ROLL WAVE!

Any corrections, comments, or criticisms, please send an email to dave@wavebaseball.com 

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