Baseball Outlook: 'Cats look to exploit their potential
|Head coach Edwin Thompson expects all-conference outfielder Chris Burke '11 to continue to evolve into one of the conference's top players.|
LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College baseball team grew a year older and learned many lessons during the 2009 season, says second-year head coach Edwin Thompson, and the Bobcats hope to turn those lessons into success in 2010.
"As a team, the players see this as a very important year, and they see it as a statement year for themselves," said Thompson. "We were very disappointed by last year, and they have made a commitment to rebounding from that disappointment."
With 16 returning players, Bates is no longer a young team with untapped potential. Instead, it is an experienced squad -- but one whose potential remains untapped, says Thompson.
"This team is a very motivated group of guys; it is a very close group," Thompson said. "They have worked very hard both on and off the field in preparation for this season. The veterans have taken their leadership roles very seriously."
Eight newcomers are added to the 2010 roster as well. "We feel that we addressed some needs," said Thompson. "We added six pitchers, and it will be interesting how they adjust as the season goes. How quickly they learn the college game will probably determine how far our pitching staff goes."
Nine position starters and three conference-game experienced starting pitchers return. Each figures to factor heavily on just how successful the Bobcats are in 2010.
The team’s three captains are:
- Junior All-NESCAC outfielder Chris Burke, who led the team in batting average (.406) and RBIs (33) and set the Bates single-season record for hits with 52.
- Three-year letter winner Tom Beaton, who led the NESCAC in stolen bases last season with 19, and he looks to put together another strong season in the leadoff spot in the batting order, as well as in the infield.
- Junior outfielder Pat Murphy, who established himself as one of the top defensive outfielders in the NESCAC last season.
|Karl Alexander '12 has great starting experience, particularly for a sophomore pitcher.|
The Bobcats graduated five pitchers who logged a combined 116 innings in 2009, including three four-year letter winners. Although the 2010 pitching staff is young overall, they are fortunate to return a trio of pitchers who started games in conference play, in junior Paul Chiampa, junior Ryan Heide and sophomore Karl Alexander. "All three guys pitched in big games last year for us, and we now need them to give us a chance to win every time they step on the mound," said Thompson. The fourth and fifth starters are yet to be determined: candidates include sophomore RHP Demetrios Gaztiogiannis, who started three games in 2009. Junior Noah Lynd who also started last year, will also be in the mix. A pair of talented freshmen, Michael Spinosa and Kevin McGregor, will also compete for a spot in the rotation. "We expect both of the freshmen to come right in and compete for a starting role," said Thompson. "They both come from outstanding high school programs and have had a great deal of success." The bullpen will be anchored by a pair of seniors, Ryan Horvath and Josh Linscott. Also in the pen will be first-years Pat Siebenlist, Jeff Clausen, Mike Antonellis and Ben Spanos. Pat Murphy starts the year as the Bobcats' closer.
The Bobcats return both catchers who caught every game last year, in juniors Jacob Simon and Gordy Webb. Both bring something different behind the plate, but both are very good offensive players and will need to have big years if the Bobcats are going to the next step in the program. Freshman Michael Nunn will add depth at the position.
|Middle infielder Tom Beaton '10 led the NESCAC in stolen bases last year, and earned All-NESCAC recognition as a wide receiver this football season.|
The Bobcats return all four starters in the infield as well. At first base, Noah Lynd returns after starting 30 games and batting in the middle of the lineup in 2009. Freshman Kevin McGregor figures to push Lynd right away for playing time, as will Gatzogiannis. Tom Beaton will look to find a spot either at shortstop, where he played last season, or at second base. Sophomore Mike Ciummei, who batted .330 and led the team in home runs, will look to more over to his natural position at short after spending his rookie year at third base. Junior Noah Burke will look to continue to improve at 2B. Junior Luke Wamboldt first-year Ryan Sonberg and sophomore Kelvin Gutierrez will look to see playing time at all three positions. Josh Linscott is looking to make a comeback after taking a year off due to injury.
The Bobcats return all three outfielders from a year ago. The trio is led by All-NESCAC player Chris Burke who will look to continue developing into one of the best players in the conference. Pat Murphy will look to build on his summer wooden-bat league experience and become a more consistent hitter, while continuing to play outstanding center field. Over in left, junior Rich Vellotta, who batted .380 in 2009, will be healthy this year after having ankle surgery this past off-season. Freshman Chris Alfiero, an athletic player who played football last fall, has great speed and the potential to play.