Baseball Cowboy Baseball: The Future is Bright!

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Takeout Slide

Hardcore Troubadour
Nov 10, 2009
Rounding third and heading for Omaha
I did a little write up in the other thread about the guys we are losing (or might lose to the draft). Each of those guys has meant so much to our program, and there's always the lingering concern about how you replace guys like that.

But the cupboard is far from bare, so I thought I'd write a bit about the guys who are coming back and some of the new guys coming in.

The Returnees

Ryan Sluder (Sr.) - Ryan had a down year at the plate, but I think his hand injury set him back more than any of us know. Still, you'd be hardpressed to find a better defensive centerfielder in college baseball. Scouts have always talked about Sluder as a five-tool player if he ever reaches his potential. Don't forget that he was more of a football guy until he came to OSU. I look for Ryan to have a big senior season and up his draft stock big time.

Dustin Williams (Sr.) - I think Dustin was asked to do some things at the plate this year that he hadn't been asked to do before - namely to try and tap into his power a bit more at the expense of the higher OBP and opposite field hitting that we saw from him in his first two years. When Krietemeier graduated two years ago, I wondered if we'd see a defensive drop off at first base, but Dustin has been as good or better. Dustin was drafted in the mid-30 rounds, but I anticipate he'll return and I'm really hopeful that we'll see him finish his OSU career on a strong note.

Andrew Rosa (R-Jr.) - I'm really excited to see Andrew get more time on the field next year. Obviously things may get tougher when other teams start to develop a "book" on him, but Andrew has definitely shown some flashes at the plate. I would guess Andrew will be in the mix for the shortstop job next year.

Garrett Benge (Jr.) - Garrett is another kid that we got the chance to interact with at the banquet, and you'd have absolutely no idea that this was a kid who'd just had a JUCO season for the ages. Quiet, humble, unassuming and very gracious and respectful. When I first saw Garrett in the fall, his offensive prowess was obvious, but I was worried about how well he could handle third base. He's turned into a very good third baseman, and I won't be surprised if we see him hit even better next year after a year of facing elite D1 pitching.

Jon Littell (Jr.) - Give me Sluder and Littell and a halfway decent rightfielder and I'll feel pretty confident that I have one of the best OFs in college baseball. Littell seemed to find his way at the plate a bit more this year after a rough freshman season. I think we'll see him hit even more consistently next year, and perhaps for a bit more power.

Garret McCain (Jr.) - Garrett may be my favorite Cowboy. This is a really high character kid (a common refrain!) who was a major sparkplug at the top of our offense in 2015. I'm not sure what happened with Garrett this year - sophomore slump, victim of the depth chart, etc., but I'd love to see Garrett get back to his pesky ways at the top of our lineup. I think we really missed having that guy who set the tone for everyone else with his intention to get on base no matter what.

Blake Battenfield (R-Jr.) - Man, I hope Blake can somehow regain his freshman year form. We're likely going to be hunting for 1-2 weekend starters and a bullpen workhorse and Blake would be a guy you'd love to be able to turn to. I'm sure he's looking forward to playing alongside his brother who will join the team next year as a freshman.

Jake Cowan and Max Simpson (Jr.) - We didn't see Jake or Max throw a lot. IIRC, Max was named the top-pitcher in his JUCO league as a freshman and the staff was hoping that he might come in and take over our closer duties. Jake has good power stuff, but as with so many guys, it's all about developing pitchability. Good news for him, he's working with the best.

Jacob Chappell (Jr.) - The other half of the Utropolis duo. Jacob obviously showed his value down the stretch as a clubhouse and dugout guy. But let's don't forget that Jacob is probably our best infield defender. I'm sure he will be in the mix for the shortstop job.

Mason O'Brien (Jr.) - I assume that Mason redshirted this season, so technically he would be a redshirt sophomore. Mason comes from a baseball family and is part of the Owasso tradition, so the pedigree is there. Hopefully we can get that lefthanded bat going, because he could be a valuable asset.

Jensen Elliott (So.) - I saw Jensen pitch 3-4 times last fall and knew that we were going to have a blast watching this kid. It was tough to see his season end on a rough note, but Jensen is such a mature kid that he's only going to grow from it. Our pitching has become so consistently solid under Walton that we may not realize exactly how good Jensen was - freshman AA, all Big 12, 9 wins, etc. I anticipate that Jensen will be in the mix to become our Friday night guy, and may well be the heavy favorite.

Colin Simpson (So.) - Another kid who sat at our table at the banquet, and another great kid. Colin is a lefty, a pure hitter, and a great athlete, and I know Josh really loves what he brings. I see Colin being a future leader of the team, and a fan favorite because of how hard he plays. It will be interesting to see where the coaches see him playing in the years to come - whether he stays at catcher or perhaps mans the DH.

Carson Teel (R-So.) - Carson showed some great flashes this year and will give us a very valuable lefthanded arm next year. Carson is looking more and more confident every time he throws, and as he starts to develop even more focus, he'll only get better. I don't know what Rob's plan is with Carson, but it sure would be nice to get a lefthanded arm back into the weekend rotation.

Joe Lienhard (So.) - This guy is going to be very good. The stuff is already there, now it's just developing the mental focus and endurance. I will be very surprised if Joe doesn't become a big part of our starting rotation next year - either weekend or midweek.

Ben Leeper and Luke Matheny - Leeper made a couple of appearances this season, but I assume he'll wind up getting a redshirt. I believe he wound up suffering an arm injury that ended his season prematurely. Josh was very high on Ben at the banquet, saying that Ben is already an advanced pitcher and played in some very high pressure situations during his HS career. Matheny, of course, is the son of Mike Matheny, HC of the Cardinals, and Josh was excited about Luke's future as well. He is already putting up some good numbers for his summer league team.

Bryce Verplank (R-Fr.) - Man, I am really intrigued by this kid. He's a big time athlete, who played two ways in HS. The coaches are trying to convert to him to pitch, and I saw some flashes of greatness in a preseason practice last January. He may be a bit of a work in progress, but this guy has big time stuff - like upper 90s stuff with at least one secondary, offspeed pitch. He faced our middle of the order guys and carved them up.

Alex Shaver (R-Fr.) - I attended 4-5 practices last fall, and, outside of Jensen Elliott, Alex impressed me more than anyone. Alex is an outfielder who will remind folks of Saulyer Saxon, but with more pop in his bat. Think Tim Arakawa. Alex is a flier and were he 6 inches taller, would probably be raved about as a five tool guy.

Baylor Rowlett (R-Fr.) - I'm really high on this kid. Baylor apparently came in with the lingering effects of a knee injury and was forced to redshirt, but I really hope we see him become a more integral part of the team going forward. Baylor is a catcher and was a bigtime hitter in HS.

The Incoming Players

I'll admit that all I know about these guys is what I've seen on video or read in scouting reports, but I'm looking forward to seeing them in person once fall ball starts.

Bryce Fischer (JUCO) - Fischer comes from Cowley where he played in the outfield. He put up a very solid freshman season himself, but was overshadowed by a guy named Benge. His offensive numbers weren't quite as solid this year, even though his team advanced to the JUCO national championship. Fischer was the Gatorade HS POY in Kansas his senior year.

Travis Wacker (JUCO) - Travis is a recent signee, who comes from Canada via Grayson CC in Texas. He is listed as a catcher and a corner infielder and swung a pretty good bat in JUCO. Travis is playing for the Willmar Stinger of the Northwoods League this summer and is putting up some decent numbers so far. It will be interesting to see which position he is being recruited for.

Michael Neustifter (HS) - Michael is a catcher and corner infielder out of Texas and a big time signee. Folks are rightfully bummed that we were not able to get Joey Rose to campus, but Neustifter was an even more highly rated recruit. He is a big kid - like a righthanded Dustin Williams - but has a very nice, compact swing with a lot of power. As with a lot of this HS class, this is a kid who has played a lot of baseball and won a lot of big games in HS and travel team settings.

Jonathan Heasley (HS) - similar to Neustifter, it was a pretty big coup for the staff to get Jonathan on campus. Another very highly rated kid, Jonathan is a right handed pitcher who just finished winning a HS state championship in Texas. Jonathan has big time stuff and is consistently rated very highly by Perfect Game at their events.

Trey Riley (HS) - Trey Riley is another highly rated righthanded arm out of Illinois. I haven't been able to find a ton of information on this kid, but it sounds like he will bring a low 90s fastball. He was also recruited by Missouri State, who has a pretty good history of developing good pitchers.

Daniel DeSimone (HS) - Daniel is a Bishop Kelly kid, so obviously he comes from a baseball powerhouse. I watched a few BK games last year, and it seemed like he was always in the mix whether on the mound of with the bat. Perfect Game lists him as a 3B recruit, but he also pitched a lot for BK. He is another big kid who swung a big bat in HS.

Cameron Dobbs (HS) - Dobbs is a SS from Dallas Jesuit - a school with a history of putting out solid ballplayers. Cameron has the heigh (6'3") of a stereotypical SS and in the videos I watched of him, appears to cover a lot of ground. He hits from the left side.

Brady Basso (HS) - Brady is the lone LHP in this class, which leads you to believe that he will be leaned on next year. Basso is from Pearland, TX (6A) and was recently named the MVP of his district after tossing up an 8-1 record and a 0.67 ERA.

John Radetsky (HS) - A family member of John's has been on this board at times and has provided some really great info about John. John is a corner infielder (or outfielder) who has played baseball at a very high level in Florida. John swings a lefthanded bat and appears to be a very good hitter with the ability to hit the ball to all fields. After watching a number of videos, I think John may be one of the more underrated signees in this class.

Trevor Boone (HS) - Trevor is from Tulsa Memorial, but unfortunately, he's been one of the harder players to find much information on. Trevor was the quarterback of his HS football team, so he's obviously a very good athlete. IIRC, Trevor caught at the HS level and also played in the OF. Perfect Game lists him as an OF recruit. As with many in this class, Trevor is another big kid (6'2").

C.J. Varela (HS) - C.J. is a righthanded pitcher from the Houston area who has a low 90s fastball and earned a number of accolades from Rawlings and Perfect Game. He was also named to his All District Team.

Ryan Cash (HS) - Ryan was a teammate of Jonathan Heasley's and is a big time athlete. He was the QB of his HS football team and is listed as a shortstop on Perfect Game. Ryan is a switch hitter.

Peyton Battenfield (HS) - I have been listing these names in order of their Perfect Game national ranking, which means 1 of 2 things about Battenfield. Either, he really is one of our lesser (relatively speaking) recruits and this class is very good. Or, he's terribly underrated. Peyton is a RHP and was just recently named the Oklahoma POY by both the Tulsa World and the DOK. He went 27-2 in his four years at Verdigris and finished his senior season with a 0.22 ERA after throwing four no-hitters, including one in the state quarterfinals. Peyton's HS coach says he is just beginning to tap into his potential.

Chris Burdine (HS) - Chris is a righthanded pitcher from Coppell, TX, a powerhouse baseball program and the same school as Jensen Elliott. Burdine was a 1st team All District Pitcher.

Reid Morgan (HS) - Reid was one of the very earliest commitments to the 2016 class. He is a RHP from Texas.

Cade Cabbiness (HS) - an outfielder from Bixby who was drafted in the 21st round by the Cardinals. Cade hit .470+ this past season and provides us with another valuable lefthanded bat. Thanks @pokes2omaha!

Connor Kimple (HS) - Connor is an outfielder from Wisconsin and was a late addition like Cabbiness. Scouting reports indicate that Connor is a good athlete and has a very strong arm. Connor hits from the right side, and watching his videos, he appears to have very good bat speed and hits the baseball to all fields. Perfect Game rates Connor as the #471 senior in the country and #9 in a very loaded Wisconsin class.

(Edit: Updated with the addition of Cade Cabbiness and Connor Kimple and Theroux signing)

TL;DR - we're still going to be pretty good :D

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