Just over two months separate now and Opening Day for the Wareham Gatemen, and whether or not that’s considered too long of a wait or rapidly approaching, the time is ripe for some 2015 Gatemen player analysis.
The college baseball season is approximately at the halfway point, giving us an adequate sample size to evaluate how Gatemen players are faring. What follows is a look at the seven players returning for a second season including four pitchers and three position players.
Year: Redshirt Junior
Last year in Wareham: 1-1, 1.80 ERA, 4 Games, 2 Starts, 20 IP, 18 SO, 5 BB, 13 H
Adler was added to the 2015 Gatemen team on Monday, making it his second summer in Wareham. Adler spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at USC, and is now currently redshirting in his junior season at North Carolina State. Though his 5.23 ERA and .347 opponents average against in 20.2 innings in 2014 with USC are uninspiring, his 21:7 K:BB gives reason to be intrigued by his stuff.
Last year in Wareham: 92 AB, 6 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 34 SO, 2 SB, .250 AVG
Ray’s game epitomizes that of the entire Louisville unit: athletic, aggressive and electric.
Serving as the Cardinal’s every day right fielder and three-hole hitter since the last week of his freshman year, Ray has raked in 2015. Ranking first in numerous team hitting categories, such as at-bats, runs, triples, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, it’s clear that Ray’s biggest improvement this season has been his power stroke. Granted, that comes with downside in a high strikeout rate (his 37 punchouts are tops on the team and he struck out in over one third of his at-bats in the Cape last year), but Wareham will certainly take his lightning rod bat in the middle of its lineup for a second straight summer.
Last year in Wareham: 1-2, 1.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 5 starts, 21 IP, 19 SO, 6 BB, 17 H
Louisville’s dominant 24-7 record and D1Baseball.com ranking of No. 8 can be largely attributed to the success of its bullpen, and particularly the effectiveness of Harrington.
Though Harrington may split the title of “closer” with Brendan McKay (each currently sits at four saves), he has unquestionably been the most lethal bullpen arm. Harrington has made 13 appearances in 2015, and in his 27.1 innings of work has rung up 40 batters and only issued eight walks. Even more impressive, his ERA sits at a sterling 0.33, as he’s allowed only one earned run. As a collective group, the Louisville bullpen is stymying opposing hitters to a .166 average, and Harrington’s set the pace with a .095 opposing batting average of his own.
School: University of Connecticut
Last year in Wareham: 2-2, 2.74 ERA, 15 Games, 39.1 IP, 24 SO, 17 BB, 39 H
Much how Harrington isn’t officially termed as Louisville’s “closer” but still has other-worldly numbers, Kay may not be UCONN’s Friday night starter, but he’s certainly posted a pitching line to merit the title “staff ace.”
Thanks to a bulk of pitching depth, the Huskies trot out Kay for Saturday night starts—the most recent of which was a scoreless six-inning, five-strikeout performance propelling UCONN to its lone win over South Florida.
Sitting at 4-3 on the season, Kay has tallied 53.2 innings and compiled a tidy 1.17 ERA and a 57:15 K:BB ratio.
Interestingly, Kay was tied for the team lead in innings pitched for Wareham last summer, though he only made two starts. Given that he’s been dealing for UCONN, it’s likely he’ll continue to be stretched out as a starter this summer.
School: Cal Poly Pomona
Last year in Wareham: 1-3, 3.66 ERA, 12 Games, 5 Starts, 39.1 IP (tied for team lead), 37 SO (led team), 15 BB, 44 H
Given the quirky nature of the Division II college baseball schedule—teams play four-game series against conference opponents that includes a double-header on Saturdays—pitching depth is absolutely necessary.
Sitting at 25-9 overall, the Broncos have certainly showcased their full arsenal of talented pitchers—boasting five pitchers who have each accumulated five or more starts.
Olson is part of that group, and has excelled in his six starts. Like Kay and Harrington, he has a sub-2.00 and has held opposing hitters to a sub-.200 average. Olson is also a perfect 5-0 on the year and has twirled a complete game as well.
School: North Carolina State
Last year in Wareham: 0-1, 9.31 ERA, 6 Games, 9.2 IP, 9 SO, 2 BB, 14 H
Even though the departure of first-round pick Carlos Rodon single-handedly created pitching uncertainties for the Wolfpack, Williamson has not been the beneficiary of an increased workload.
Williamson has made a total of four starts, but allowed 9 earned runs (contributing to his 4.67 ERA) and only managed 17.1 innings. Still, his strikeout numbers (23 total in 2015) are right on par with what he posted in the Cape last summer, which may indicate that his left-handed arm is full of untapped potential.
School: North Carolina State
Last year in Wareham: 57 AB, 4 R, 16 H, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 9 SO, .281 AVG
No one has ever doubted Knizner’s ability to hit.
The issue for him coming into his sophomore season at NCST was whether or not he could quickly adapt from switching from third base to either first base or catcher. Knizner slotting at first base would simply fit his exact mold—a player who carries tons of pop and well-rounded tools. Slotting at catcher would make him one of the most sought-after commodities in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Now 30 games into the season, it’s clear Knizner is going to stick at catcher (at least in his collegiate career). Consistently batting in the five-spot of the Wolfpack lineup, Knizner has walloped ACC pitching to the tune of a .369 batting average, a .417 on-base percentage, and has also cranked three home runs. Over his past seven games, Knizner is 15-for-30, and even more notable is the fact that he’s only struck out seven times all season.
Last year in Wareham: 112 AB, 18 R, 31 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 8 BB, .277 AVG
Much like his fifth-ranked LSU team, Robertson is loaded with talent. And slated to play alongside what is arguably the nation’s best offensive player in Alex Bregman, hopes were high that Robertson could have a breakout 2015 season.
The breakout has been slower than anticipated for Robertson, though, and his struggles out of the gates cost him the starting second base job to Jared Foster. Given that the Tigers are poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, it appears to be a classic case of the LSU coaching staff rolling with a known veteran in Foster (who’s a senior), rather than continuing to explore the immense upside of the sophomore Robertson.
Nevertheless, Robertson was fourth in at-bats for Wareham last summer and has tinkered with his approach lately—most notably a simplified swing—and appears primed to slot into the everyday lineup this summer.
Last year in Wareham: 111 AB, 11 R, 28 H, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 11 BB, 29 SO, 7 SB, .252 AVG
The big second half of the season Warren had as a freshman (which saw him hit 61 points higher than the first half) has carried over into his sophomore season, as he’s third on the team with a .361 average.
Warren is the prototypical five-tool centerfielder, as is evidenced by his robust .452 on-base percentage and 14 walks. He hasn’t been stealing bases for Rice with the same success rate at which he normally does (3-for-6 in 2015), but he led Wareham in steals a year ago and the speed is clearly there.