I know it's very early, but you can't forget about the 2010 baseball Horns. It may be their off season, but that doesn't mean that things aren't going on.
The latest from D. McComas, who covers the baseball team for the OB's.
"1) I'll get right to the most interesting thing I've heard: Kevin Keyes could be in the mix at first base. Brandon Belt's expected departure to professional baseball coupled with Colton Cain's signing leaves first base as a question mark. Obviously, finding a starter isn't going to be worked out the first week. But from what I've heard Keyes will get a very serious look at first.
My immediate reaction is I like the idea. It gives Texas an opportunity to get more speed in the outfield, and become even stronger defensively. No matter what the slugger will most definitely be in the lineup somewhere, but don't be shocked if it's not in the outfield.
2) The closer situation hasn't been addressed, and I'm not sure it will be in the immediate future. Obviously, the first two names mentioned out of speculation will be Chance Ruffin and Brandon Workman. Workman is more likely than Ruffin at this point. If one of those two speak up and demand the job, its' all theirs. However, I don't think that will happen any time soon. To be honest, it's only the fall, so it doesn't need to be figured out immediately.
3) Cohl Walla is the one freshman I've heard mentioned frequently. I'll be surprised if he's not manning one of the corner outfield spots. Hoby Milner is probably the pitcher most ready to make an impact.
4) Brandon Loy, Jordan Etier, and Cameron Rupp are probably the only guys locked into starting spots right now.
5) At this point Kevin Lusson is the odds-on-favorite to start at third.
6) This team is extremely versatile. I don't think I can emphasize that enough. This Texas team is stocked with a lot of flat out ball players, and guys that can play multiple positions. Look for the UT staff to take advantage of this, and don't be surprised to hear about some guys cross training at multiple positions...pitchers included."
Football, then basketball, and of course the baseball teams. Texas has a very legitimate chance at winning the triple crown in mens sports this year. I'll try my best to keep you posted on all three teams, as the annual school year unfolds.
Yesterday, Kendall Rogers, college baseball columnist for the national arm of Rivals, released this fall prognosis of the 2010 baseball horns. Rogers, an Aggie alum, is about as spot on a guy can be. I have a lot of respect for his analysis. So, take what he says here as good an analysis as you can get, including that of OB beat writer, Dustin McComas, who covers the Horns for the OB's.
Anyway, the writeup:
Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:49 pm EDT Five keys to the fall: Texas
By Kendall Rogers
It's back to business as usual for the six-time national champions.
The Longhorns won the national title in 2005 and appeared to be in great shape. But after three-straight seasons of not getting past the NCAA regional round, at least some wondered if the 'Horns had lost some of their luster.
That wasn't the case.
Texas returned to its normal ways last season. It took care of business in the regular season and entered regional play as the nation's top national seed. The 'Horns then played LSU in the CWS Championship Series for the national title.
Sure, the Longhorns came up short against the Tigers. But last season still was a prodigious success for coach Augie Garrido's program.
UT has several holes to fill at the plate, but welcomes back a pitching staff that will again have them in the national title discussion entering the spring.
Texas' five fall keys
1. Replace the Big Three leaders -- The Longhorns have a wealth of talent and will be just fine this fall and entering the spring. However, it's still important for the 'Horns to find some players to emerge as leaders. Catcher Cameron Rupp certainly is a perfect candidate, but replacing reliever Austin Wood, utility player Preston Clark and second baseman Travis Tucker will be difficult from a leadership standpoint. No one will ever forget Wood's courageous effort in the Austin Regional against Boston College. Clark also had some big plays last season and Tucker was a spark plug in the field. It'll be interesting to see which players emerge as leaders this fall.
2. Improve offensively without key hitters -- It's impressive to note that Texas finished last season with a .288 batting average and still managed to play for the national title. UT certainly improved its offense down the stretch and in the postseason. But still, last year's team struggled at the plate for much of the season. UT hopes to establish more consistency at the plate this fall. That could be difficult with the departures of Brandon Belt, Michael Torres, Travis Tucker and Preston Clark. The 'Horns are in business if position players such as Connor Rowe, Brandon Loy, Kevin Lusson and Jordan Etier rise to the occasion. There also is designated hitter Russell Moldenhauer, who rose to the occasion in a big way in Omaha last season.
3. Figure out the weekend rotation -- The Longhorns return the nation's best pitching staff, so you're probably wondering why the weekend rotation needs to be sorted out. Well, the Longhorns have right-hander Brandon Workman to thank for that. Workman is the top prospect on the pitching staff and was sensational in Omaha last season. That has some pondering the idea of moving him to the weekend rotation. That means Chance Ruffin, Taylor Jungmann or Cole Green would have to leave the weekend rotation. I'm a strong believer that won't happen, but it's a possiblity. Ruffin is the attitude of the team and is a perfect ace pitcher. Jungmann has outstanding stuff and easily is the best No. 2 pitcher in America. Then there's Cole Green, who is much more suited to be a weekend starter than closer. Workman, meanwhile, throws in the mid 90's and also can get hitters out in other ways. I'd be surprised if the rotation isn't Ruffin, Jungmann and Green.
4. Get more power production -- The Longhorns have some questions to answer at the plate, but could put most observers at ease by showing more power this fall. The 'Horns finished last season with 53 homers, which ranked 124th in the country and was tied with Duke, Northwestern State and Bethune-Cookman. The 'Horns utilize small ball and play in a large park, but still need to improve their power numbers. By comparison last season, national champion LSU finished the year with 107 homers.
5. Shore up the infield -- Texas has no reason to worry about the shortstop and catcher positions. Brandon Loy had a fantastic freshman campaign at shortstop last season and catcher Cameron Rupp is one of the best backstops in the Big 12. But the questions are at first base, second base and third base. The 'Horns are working outfielder Kevin Keyes at first base, which makes sense considering he has a large frame at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. The 'Horns also are looking at Jonathan Walsh as an option at first base. At second, it would come as a surprise to many insiders if anyone but Jordan Etier starts at the position in the spring. Etier had a .267 batting average in only 15 at bats last season, but the 'Horns like his potential. The 'Horns also have a hole at third without Michael Torres, but Kevin Lusson could be the perfect replacement. UT certainly has the talent needed in the infield, but the area is still a question mark this fall.
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