If you haven’t noticed already, the Red Raiders have one of the youngest rosters not only in the Big 12, but among the top teams in the NCAA. Most teams thrive off upper classmen, but Texas Tech has figured out how to do it with younger players.
For data, I took the starting line-up from each team by who has the most starts for each team and averaged out the grade of the team. The No. 1 will be freshman, No. 2 sophomore and so forth. If it is unclear by stats who the main start will be, I will average the grade out for the players fighting for a job:
As you can see, the Red Raiders have the youngest starting line-up by a good margin right now. Oklahoma and Texas are the only other Big 12 program with more under classmen than upper classmen affecting their starting line-ups. There are plenty of ups and a few downs to this.
First off, with a lack of upper classmen, this shows that the Red Raiders have a lot of talent. Not only because the young players are good enough to start, but also because the lack of seniors are because the juniors that were starting went pro. Orlando Garcia and Tanner Gardner went pro because of how talented they are.
With an average grade of 2.22, that means that Tech averages around three freshmen, three sophomore and three juniors and seniors. Although this isn’t quite true for Tech, as they have two freshmen and four sophomores, this basically means that the Red Raiders will lose about three starters a year, whether because of graduation or getting drafted.
Let’s take a look at last year and this year. We lost the Hunter Hargrove, the Big 12 POY, due to graduation and Garcia and Gardner because of drafting. Tech didn’t have to completely revamp the line-up, but simply plug in pieces. Warren took Hargrove’s spot at first, Gabe Holt took Garcia’s spot in the infield and Kurt Wilson has took over Gardner’s spot in the outfield.
This year, if we assume we are losing Michael Davis (graduation), Cody Farhat (draft) and maybe even Cameron Warren (draft), then that’s just three guys Tech has to replace. KC Simonich, Cody Masters or Parker Kelly could replace a couple of those positions, while future possible newcomers like Max Marusak or Tanner O’Tremba.
On the downside, more under classmen mean less experience. Tech doesn’t have the luxury of the TCU, who has many players in their lineup with College World Series experience. We won’t know how these young players will preform until they hit the postseason and they know it’s virtually a one game season.
Now let’s compare the Red Raiders to some of the top teams in the NCAA:
This is true not only for the Big 12 but also the top teams in the NCAA. Tadlock not only has the deepest pitching staff they’ve had in a while, but have built an offense that is here to stay. Now on to the Ladders and Chutes of the week:
- Zayne Willems — Willems had quite a day on Saturday against Kentucky. Except for a passed ball in the second inning, Willems went 2 for 2 with three runs scored and a home run to tie the game. He also tagged a runner out of home. Unfortunately an injury in the sixth inning ended his day early.
- Josh Jung — This past week, Jung went 4 for 10 with six RBIs and some good defense in the first two games against Kentucky. The offense did fairly well this week, averaging about seven runs a game against some future pro arms, and Jung headlined them.
- Grant Little’s Defense — Little displayed some good defense this past week. On Friday, he had an outstanding catch in left center field to save an extra base hit. On Saturday, he gunned down a runner at the plate. Almost had another highlight catch the same day.
- Dylan Dusek — Dusek was the key to the Red Raiders winning the series finale against Kentucky. As he struck out five batters in three innings and allowed just one base runner.
- Caleb Kilian — Kilian was the other long reliever that helped give the Red Raider their victory in Lexington. Although he gave up his first run of the season, he struck out five batters in 3.1 innings and just allowed one run to score.
- Pinch Hitters — One positive from this weekend is we learned that Tech pinch hitters had some success this weekend. Unfortunately they were used because of the Kentucky lead, but they went 4 for 10 with four runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. That’s an on base percentage of .500.
- Davis Martin — This reminded me a lot of the start against Texas A&M last year where Martin had a bad start in an important weekend. This isn’t too much to worry about. He did pitch seven scoreless innings against Florida in the CWS, Tech has won every Big 12 game he’s started and has only one bad postseason start against ECU in 2016.
- John McMillon — McMillon gave up five runs in five innings, his worst start of the season (and his career). John appeared to be cruising until the fourth inning when he gave up a three run homer. He needs to bring down the extra base hits and the walks. His bat was good, however, as he hit a three run homer in the series finale against Kentucky.
- Bullpen — This is the first time we’ve really seen the bullpen struggle. On Friday, the Red Raiders mostly used the bottom of the bullpen due to the Kentucky lead, but Ty Harpenau had a bad outing. On Saturday, it was Dane Haveman who didn’t do so well, with other pitchers coming in a struggling as well.
- Grant Little’s Bat — Little had performed so well with the bat so far, he was bound to come down at some point. The left fielder went 1 for 12 against Kentucky, and 2 for 16 with two runs scored this past week. Hopefully his bat is back by this weekend.
- Bunting — For whatever reason, the Red Raiders could not figure out how to cover a damn bunt on Saturday. The first bunt was just Warren trying to make a play and didn’t quite get enough of the ball on the glove. The next two were Holt not covering first and no one being in the correct position.
- Kurt Wilson — Wilson has really cooled off since the UTSA series, going 1 for 7 with a run scored and not the best defense at shortstop. However, we may see more Wilson at shortstop if Davis’ injury keeps him out a while.
- This was the hardest part of Texas Tech’s schedule, and now we know where weaknesses may lie for the Red Raiders. Luckily, it’s doubtful we play an offense like that at least until the super regionals (if we go that far) and we may not have to travel on the road to play an unfamiliar, tough team like Kentucky after this week.
- Michael Davis apparently didn’t play due to a hamstring issues. Hopefully this won’t be too serious and he will still be effective once Big 12 play rolls around. Kurt Wilson took his spot at SS this week. Wouldn’t be surprised to see other such as Simonich, Kelly or possibly move in Little if absolutely necessary.
- Our starters did not fair well this weekend. You can’t even really point to the Gingery injury because of the face Martin and McMillon struggled so much. The Red Raiders have only had two quality starts (6 IP with 3 or less earned runs) so far, one from McMillon and one from Shetter.
- There was a lot of sloppy play that needs to be fixed. Fulford let a ball go to the backstop and let two runs scored. Tech was unable to cover bunts and allowed three runs to scored. This is not only on the players but also Tadlock in some cases. Kentucky just seemed to want it more.