Baseball

2019 Texas Tech Baseball Preview: Predictions

The season is here. I list my predictions of this season and what will happen with the Red Raiders this season.

Opening Day is just two days away everybody! After months of waiting, the first day of the baseball season is upon us. If you have been in hibernation since late June, here is a list of the baseball posts we have done since the season has concluded.

So. Much. Content. Well let’s get started on my predictions for the 2019 season, starting with the line-up and rotation.

Starting Line-Up:

As I mentioned in the links above, I made one change, and that’s with shortstop. I mentioned in the post that it was the hardest position to guess, and I kept on going back and forth on it even after I posted it.

I’ve decided to move Dylan Neuse into the shortstop position. The JUCO transfer can play multiple positions, has a some speed to him and is a good contact hitter. I totally forgot that Neuse’s brother was a productive player for the Oklahoma a few years back.

I also flipped Marusak and Masters just because the overall consensus that I’m getting is Marusak will play more center field with his speed and arm. Well here’s my projected line-up.

Players Position (Stats)
1. Gabe Holt RF (.348/.440/.485, 70 R, 44 RBI, 29 SB)
2. Max Marusak CF (Freshman from Amarillo HS)
3. Josh Jung 3B (.392/.491/.639, 80 RBI, 69 R, 12 HR)
4. Cameron Warren 1B (.326/.444/.549, 49 R, 53 RBI, 10 HR)
5. TJ Rumfield DH (Freshman from Temple HS)
6. Brain Klein 2B (.317/.422/.480, 50 R, 34 RBI, .993 FLD%)
7. Dylan Neuse SS (Transfer from McLennan CC)
8. Cody Masters LF (.258/.414/.364, 23 R, 14 RBI, 2-2 SB)
9. Braxton Fulford C (.193/.324/.273, 14 R, 24 RBI, .988 FLD%)
Reserves Position (Stats)
Cole Stilwell C (Freshman from Rockwall Heath)
Dru Baker MIF (Freshman from Tomball Memorial HS)
Tanner O’Tremba OF (Freshman from Parker Cherry Creek (Co.))
Easton Murrell MIF (Transfer from Arkansas, .125/.462/.125)
Parker Kelly INF (.083/.083/.083, R, RBI, .941 FLD%)
Starting Rotation Position (Stats)
Caleb Killian RHP (3.24 ERA, 72.1 IP, 63 K’s, .222 BAVG)
John McMillon RHP (4.02 ERA, 62.2 IP, 73 Ks, .268 BAVG)
Bryce Bonnin RHP ( Transfer from Arkansas, 4.26 ERA, .254 BAVG)
Mason Montgomery LHP (Freshman from Leander HS)
Micah Dallas RHP (Freshman from Aubrey, TX)
Key Bullpen Position (Stats)
Erikson Lanning LHP (6.75, 5.1 IP, 3 K’s, .304 BAVG)
Caleb Freeman RHP (5.18 ERA, 33 IP, 31 K’s, .276 BAVG)
Kurt Wilson RHP (8.10 ERA, 13.1 IP, 17 K’s, .255 BAVG)
Jake McDonald RHP (Injured in 2018)
Connor Queen RHP (4.20 ERA, 30 IP, 11 K’s, .259 BAVG)

I had a hard time with some the positions in the starting line-up. First off, I wasn’t sure who I wanted batting lead-off: Flash or Quicksilver? I ended up going to Holt just because of his success last year not only getting on base but stealing bags. Besides, Marusak displayed power in the fall and I’d hate for him just to get solo dingers.

Obviously I have Josh Jung batting in the 3-hole, and I have Masters and Fulford batting in the bottom two sports due to their below .300 batting average. The hardest part was deciding the four through seven spots. I went with Warren batting clean-up because he had double digit home runs and a solid batting average last year.

Rumfield has some pop so I have him at fifth, Klein is a solid hitter with some sneaky pop so I have him batting sixth, and Neuse is batting seventh only because he wasn’t highly touted like Marusak and we haven’t seen him play.

The back-ups, pitching rotation and bullpens remains the same, so I’m not going to explain each pick again.

Class of 2019:

Last year, Tech had only the 27th ranked class. But baseball recruiting is different because really you aren’t done until the fall semester starts, unlike other sports. They ended up having I believe their best class ever at sixth overall.

This year, they are off to a better start, with the 13th overall class. That’s second in the Big 12 behind TCU. However, it’s still a long way to go considering the MLB Draft and late additions to the class. Here are your commits for the 2019 class thus far according to Perfect Game.

Player Position (School)
Michael Harris II LHP/OF (Ellenwood Stockbridge HS, (GA.))
Kyle Westfall OF/2B (IMG Academy, Mason (OH.))
Nate Rombach C/3B (Mansfield Legacy HS)
Andrew Devine RHP/UTL (Simi Valley HS, (CA.))
Dillon Carter OF/RHP (Argyle HS)
Jace Jung SS/2B (San Antonio MacArthur HS)
Jared Cushing SS (Joliet Catholic Academy, Naperville (IL.))
Easton “Bo” Willis C/UTL (Magnolia HS)
Jack Scanlon C/1B/RHP (Suffern Senior, Sloatsburg, (NY.))
Darell Hernaiz SS (El Paso Americas HS)
Thomas Carter RHP/1B/OF (Cathedral Catholic, Rancho Santa Fe, (CA.))
Jon Barrera LHP/OF (Corpus Christi King HS)
Tyler Hamilton RHP/OF (The Parish Episcopal HS)
Brandon Hendrix RHP (Livingston Big Sandy HS)
Blake Jackson OF (Coppell HS)
Eli Kerim C/RHP/UTL (Tomball HS)
Drew Mackie OF (Liberty HS, (MO.))
Gunner Morris RHP (Winnsboro HS)
William Rangel LHP (Cleburne HS)
Steven Vasquez RHP/3B (Upland Bonita HS, (CA.))

One thing you notice is as Texas Tech is starting to build a program, Tadlock is getting more talent from outside of Texas. Not that the talent in Texas isn’t good, a majority of the commits are still from here for several reasons, but the staff is able to steal top recruits from other states as well.

Michael Harris II is your top rated guy in the class, and the lone recruit in the Top 100. He is from Georgia, where you also grabbed your top prospect who made it to campus in Gabe Holt. Kyle Westfall and Nate Rombach are also highly rated.

One interesting name is Jace Jung, who is the younger brother of Josh Jung. Josh was ranked around the same as Jace, although was a little bit taller and bigger than his younger brother. Also, Blake Jackson went to the same high school at Cody Masters.

Preseason Predictions:

Here is my predictions for the Big 12 race, the Big 12 awards and what Texas Tech’s season might look like. The Red Raiders didn’t win the Big 12 last year, and were underwhelming for part of Big 12 play. However, I think Tech will win their third title in four years this season.

Team Ranking (Last Year)
Texas Tech 1 (3)
TCU 2 (6)
Baylor 3 (5)
Texas 4 (1)
West Virginia 5 (7)
Oklahoma State 6 (2)
Oklahoma 7 (4)
Kansas 8 (8)
Kansas State 9 (9)

Big XII Winner: Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders ran into a rough couple stretches last year. The Kentucky trip boosted their RPI, but took a toll on them and it reflected early on in their conference opener against Baylor. The second came with series loses to both TCU and Texas in late April/early May.

Despite losing 11 players to the draft, they return three All-Big 12 first team players and bring in a huge recruiting class. This team always reloads and they look like they are in position to win the Big 12 once again.

Sleeper Team: TCU Horn Frogs

It’s kind of weird calling them a sleeper team because they went to four straight College World Series and were voted No. 3 in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll. It just feels weird putting a Jim Schlossnagle team not in the top two, despite them not making the NCAA tournament a year ago.

Anyway, TCU always has a lot of talent and that remains the case for them this year. They return players like future first round pick Nick Lodolo and Jared Janczak, who is coming off an injury. They probably have the best rotation in the conference. They also had the most All-Big 12 freshmen players last year with four.

Disappointing Team: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Much like the last team, I only have this team picked one spot below and actual Big 12 rankings, but unlike last year, I have the Big 12 teams finishing around the same spot as the coaches did this year.

Oklahoma State returns just one All-Big 12 player from a season ago. The last two years were exciting for them, as they won the Big 12 as an No. 8 seed and almost won the Big 12 last year. But they choked away the Big 12 title to Texas last year and had a underwhelming performance in the postseason.

Big XII MVP: Josh Jung (Texas Tech)

Much like the previous four years, the Big 12 player last year went to the best player on the team that won the Big 12: Kody Clemens of Texas. If you look at overall stats, it really doesn’t make sense, but I can definitely see a legit argument with Clemons if you look at Big 12 stats.

I think this is also the same reason Wesley wasn’t an All-Big 12 receiver. Everybody sees everyone play and everybody plays the same teams (except for your own). Anyway, Josh Jung is a projected Top 10 pick and the second best Big 12 MLB prospect behind Shea Langeliers of Baylor. And if Tech is the best team, then Jung will win it.

Big XII Pitcher of the Year: Cody Bradford (Baylor)

Usually I try not to go with repeat winners, but Bradford was by far the best pitcher last year. Kilian gave him a run for his money early, but Bradford had two complete game shutouts in Big 12 play and ended up having a 1.88 ERA, one whole point better than Kilian.

Not only that, but out of the leaders, Bradford also had the most innings pitched. It’s really difficult to be the ERA leader and pitch that many innings. If Baylor is going to be good, then Bradford will have to be dominant again. I have Baylor finishing third place in the conference, so therefore, Bradford is my pitcher of the year.

Final Texas Tech Prediction:

Last year, I picked Texas Tech to win it all. Unfortunately, the original four weekend starters either were out for the year with injuries or inconsistent. Yet, Texas Tech still made it to the College World Series and had their best season to date.

Tech has a lot of good players returning this season. Although they miss three of their best five hitters and one key defender, they return a vast majority of their hitters. Josh Jung, the best player I have ever seen at Tech, is back and looks to be somehow better than recent years. Gabe Holt is ready to make the sophomore jump and Marusak jumps in as this year’s phenomenal freshman.

The question mark will be pitching. During the Red and Black Series, the hitting dominated. I know Tech has some great hitters, but the fact that a lot of pitchers struggle is not a great sign. That being said, Tech still has some great pitchers.

Caleb Kilian is back after his All-Big 12 First Team performance last season, John McMillon looks like he may get another crack as a starter and Bryce Bonnin comes in from Arkansas throwing fire. The two X-factors I think will be Mason Montgomery and Micah Dallas, two freshmen who performed well this fall and have serious stuff.

As far as the bullpen goes, much like every year, there will be completely new guys taking big roles. Erikson Lanning back and may make an impact in the pen and Caleb Freeman is ready to make a jump. The problem with Tech has been the lack of bullpen depth outside of two or three guys. Will anybody else step up this season?

My prediction? Another 40 win season for the Red Raiders, a Big 12 title and a trip to the College World Series once again. I don’t think they quite have the squad to win the whole thing this year, but they have a load of talent. If you have talented players, a great coach, and don’t give up, you’ll have a shot of the title.

 

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