VCU Baseball Pre Season Outlook...A New Era Begins

Half-baked Mcbride

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Here we are VCU Baseball Fans....the long wait is over. Coach Stiffler has gone, Some Rams were drafted, Many left....about 16 remain and LOTS of new faces abound. Coach LeCroy came to us from Clemson and boy oh boy, did have have some roster holes to fill. First, the good news!! The Rams are returning some solid bats and contributors to the field. Plus, Coach LeCroy brought in Andrew Cox and Tanner Gordon (Pitching Coach) to fill out his staff.

The Outfield is set with Cooper Benzin, Logan Amiss, and AJ Mathis. Devan Barnett and Scottie O'Bryan are in the mix as well....but have no fear. OF is solid with the bats and the D...not to mention some stolen bases

Infield is a little trickier...Will Carlone is the best returning bat (1B/DH) and Jacob Selden is back behind the plate (with a little Nic Ericsson as well). Newcomer Art Schoenstadt (via Missouri) looks to be the presumptive 2B starter and another new face in WIlliam Bean (Richard Bland CC) probably at SS. Yet another newbie, Jake Thilges (Des Moines area CC) should hold down 3B. Thilges is BIG....Like, Tyler Locklear big....both he and Bean have some really solid stats from their previous seasons. Another transfer of note is new Ram old Tar Heel Brandon Eike who is another 3B option

and if things go well?? Our Rams look to be A-OK with the lumber and the leather. Also, there's a ton of bench depth in Jesse Robinson Jr, Casey Gibbs, and Griffin Boone.



now for the not great news....Pitching
As always, VCU struggles to get solid pitching....even when Coach Stiffler was here, pitching is at a premium EVERYWHERE....so VCU has to look for diamonds in the rough, overlooked players, recruited over transfers, and CC guys by the bushel....this year is no different.
First, the good news
Campbell Ellis is back...He is the Sunday Starter...no question.....

well, that's it for the good news....at least for now. If you are a VCU player coach or family member...PLEASE feel free to join in this conversation....'cause I am in the weeds here...Nick Frazier is back and he had a great ERA last year (albeit in only 17 innings). Cade Dressler, Mason Delane Jr, and Justin Humenay Jr are back....can they improve on their less than optimal results of last year??? Well, someone will have to if these Rams have a shot to stay at the top of the A10!!!

New guys like Christian Gordon, Jack Goleski, and Justin Walton are all transfers that, if we're being honest here, didn't exactly blow my socks off with their results when I dug into their backgrounds. I seriously have NO IDEA where the other Non-Ellis starts are gonna come from. Might be "starter by committee" or maybe Coach LeCroy already knows he has a few guys??? beats the heck outta me...

And then there's the freshman...LOADS of them....14!!!! (if you count redshirt frosh John Lucas)....I mean, Coach LeCroy has to build the program, fill in holes NOW, and still look to the future.....so hopefully ANY one of John Lucas, Ethan Brooks (inf), Gavyn Boyle (of), Austin Younce (C), Macho Santiago...GREAT NAME (inf), Aden Hill (of), James Gladden (RHP), Devin Zirwas (OF/LHP), Evan Bert (RHP), Ethan Serrano (inf), Zachary Peters (RHP), Brion Curley (RHP), Cam Nuckols (RHP/1B), and Masion Martinez (RHP) can help these Rams stay atop their usual Top 3/4 perch of the middling A10.
Cam Nuckols is intriguing as he's 6'4/225 and he's listed as 1b/RHP...same with Devin Zirwas 6'3/210 (LHP/OF).

So what to hope for? I say look for the offense to lead the Rams early as the pitching finds their footing. No one can replace Tyler Locklear...and the losses of Ben Nippolt (LSU), Connor Hujsak (Miss St), Chase Hungate (UVa), and Tyler Davis (Miss St) will certainly be felt. But Will Carlone is gonna lead this team, and if Thilges and Bean hit like they have in the past and Eike and Schoenstadt are solid, and Jacob Selden handles the pitching staff/gameplan/and continues to hit a little, and if the OF of Benzin/Amiss/Mathis improve over their already solid body of work? These Rams can easily be one of the top offenses in the A10.

It'll be pitching that ultimately tells the tale...Pitching Coach Tanner Gordon had great success in the OVC/Murray St in regards to keeping team ERA down and limiting home runs. So IF the guys buy into his pitching philosophy and IF the guys killed it in the offseason and show some gains and IF they don't scuffle and give up leads?? Hey, it's A10 Baseball...and a bunch of teams are scrambling to fill holes...these Rams could compete and give Coach LeCroy and Staff a solid start in keeping VCU Baseball competitive and relevant.

1st pitch is 2/17 vs Middle Tennessee St in Conway S.C.

 
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