Saturday, September 30, 2006

Indiana To Build New Baseball Complex

Add Indiana to the list of Big Ten baseball programs that are building new facilities. Indiana's Board of Trustees approved the building of a new Hoosier Baseball Complex. In addition to a new playing surface, pressbox and indoor practice facility, the new structure will also provide for new locker rooms and offices for IU baseball.

The Hoosiers focus on upgrading their baseball facilities falls in line with several other programs in the Big Ten. Penn State will begin play in a new stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, next spring. Michigan is in the process of a two year renovation project at Ray Fisher Stadium. Michigan State and Purdue are raising funds for the updating/renovation of their baseball facilities. Of course, Ohio State has been the clubhouse leader in the stadium upgrades for over a decade with their commitment to Bill Davis Stadium.

This is not only good news for Coach Tracy Smith, IU baseball and the Big Ten, but college baseball in general. IU's financial support to baseball, especially in light of the others in the conference making similar moves, reveals the desire of some in the Big Ten to compete at the next level and shows the game's growing popularity.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oakland University Releases Schedule

Why on Earth would I mention Oakland University's baseball schedule? OU is in the Mid-Continent Conference for crying out loud. Why bother with them? Well, in the interest of full disclosure, your local blogger attended the Rochester, Michigan university. (What? I can't watch more than ten schools at once?)

Besides, there is a Big Ten connection. OU will make what is becoming an annual trek to Ann Arbor to face Rich Maloney's defending Big Ten championship team. It will also mark the latest meeting between Michigan pitcher Zach Putnam and his brother Dylan, who is Oakland's head coach.

There is also a tie between the two programs as Michigan firstbaseman Nate Recknagel transferred to U of M from Oakland. See, there's plenty of viable Big Ten related information to be had by sharing Oakland's 2007 schedule.

I am a bit surprised that OU isn't taking on Ohio State in '07. Seems like the two schools have run into each other in the past, but the Golden Grizzlies don't have OSU, or Michigan State, for that matter, on this year's docket.

The Golden Grizzlies also have a few interesting non-Big Ten games. I kid you not. OU will be in Lexington to face the defending regular season SEC champ, Kentucky on February 27. On April 3rd, Dylan Putnam's side will be in South Bend to take on Notre Dame. Finally, Oral Roberts, who is probably the conference's baseball power, will make the voyage to Rochester to visit OU in May.

Michigan Travels South

As other institutions announce their 2007 baseball schedules, we learn more about the schedules of Big Ten teams. East Carolina released their 2007 slate and I see that Michigan appears on it. The Wolverines will be in Greenville to take on ECU from March 16-18.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

EMU's Long And Winding Road Trip

In surfing for college baseball information, I came across the 2007 schedule for Eastern Michigan University. The Eagles not only have a daunting pre-MAC schedule, but I'm hoping they have frequent flyer miles. EMU faces, in successive three game weekend sets, Tennessee, Texas Tech, South Carolina, Arizona and Coastal Carolina.

A quick preview of the Eagles' road trip looks like this:

Ypsilanti, Michigan to Knoxville, Tennessee (433 miles)
Knoxville, Tennessee to Lubbock, Texas (1,030 miles)
Lubbock, Texas to Columbia, South Carolina (1,194 miles)
Columbia, South Carolina to Tucson, Arizona (1,729 miles)
Tucson, Arizona to Conway, South Carolina (1,844 miles)

If my math is correct, and that's always questionable, the Eagles will travel 6,230 miles to play in these five series. 6, 230! This supposes, of course, that EMU doesn't head home between each series or add dates to their 2007 schedule. The latter seems most likely as this is college baseball and schedules are not always worth the paper they are written on. Regardless, EMU will have a ton of mileage under their belts before taking on a single MAC opponent.

EMU also has three Big Ten opponents on it's schedule for next year. The Eagles will travel to Columbus to visit Coach Todd and Ohio State. David Grewe will bring his MSU Spartans into Oestrike Stadium in May. The Eagles will also have two games against the defending Big Ten Champion, Michigan. The Wolverines (in April) and Eagles (in May) will each host one game.

Friday, September 22, 2006

OSU, PSU Schedule Notes

While neither Ohio State or Penn State have released their schedules for 2007, I can pass along a bit of information about some of their opposition next year. The first nugget comes from Ohio State. The Buckeyes are hosting their own tournament at the New York Yankees complex in Tampa, Florida (the tournament announcement comes amidst a review of the OSU freshman class). The dates are February 23-25 and, in addition to the Bucks, the field is comprised of James Madison, Kansas State and Seton Hall.

JMU posted a 38-21 mark last year and can boast of 2006 co-National Player of the Year, Kellen Kulbacki. Kansas State was 31-20 a year ago and Seton Hall went 21-34.

Thanks to a tip from my friend at the College Baseball Blog, I've learned about one road trip for Penn State in '07. The Nittany Lions are going to travel to Chapel Hill to take on the University of North Carolina. While the Heels have suffered some losses to the professional ranks, UNC can still field a challenging lineup featuring All-America SS Josh Horton and 1B/3B Chad Flack.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Illinois' 2007 Schedule

It's got plenty of "TBA" spots, but the University of Illinois has posted it's 2007 baseball schedule. Even with an incomplete list of non-conference foes in front of us, it's safe to say that the Illini tackle some better than average competition outside the Big Ten. Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas-Arlington certainly aren't cupcakes. If the remainder of their pre-conference slate maintains that level, Illinois should be plenty tough come Big Ten action.

In conference, Dan Hartleb's squad will visit Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan. Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan State all travel to Champaign in '07. Midweek contests against Illinois State, Western Michigan, Bradley, Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Missouri round out the "conference" portion of Illinois schedule.

Obviously, there is going to be more news on this as we learn who will comprise the remaining pre-conference schedule, but for now it's good to get a look at a second schedule from a Big Ten program.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Answering The Call For Stats

In my last post about summer league stats, I asked that if anyone could provide more data to email me. Well, ask and ye shall receive. Checking the BTH email today, I find a note pointing me to Purdue University's summer league stat recap. Here are some of the highlights of the Boilers' wood bat experience.

Ricky Heines went north to Alaska and posted a 4-0 record for the Peninsula Oilers. In 30.1 innings of work, Heines fanned 21 and posted a sharp 2.08 ERA. Purdue firstbaseman Andy Preston was Heines' teammate in Alaska and was named to the league's All-Star Team. The Oilers captured the Alaska League title.

Andrew Groves, another Purdue hurler, played in the California Collegiate League and also had a fine season against the wood bats. Groves threw 27.2 innings going 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA.

Jordan Comadena stole 17 bases and scored a tremendous 41 runs while playing for Madison in the Northwoods League. Comadena was a NWL All-Star selection.

For a look at all the Boilermakers' summer fun, click on the link above. (Note: it's a .pdf file.) Thanks to the BTH reader for bringing this recap to my attention and for stopping here. If you have any summer league numbers from Big Ten players, I encourage you to do what this fan did and pass them along.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reviewing Summer League Numbers

I've been meaning to scan over the summer wood bat league stats for a while now, but just got around to it today. I am positive I overlooked somebody from the Big Ten, those fonts on the stat pages can be pretty small, the information rather incomplete and I just don't have every player's name memorized, so I ask for forgiveness in advance. If I missed your son, teammate or even you, please don't hesitate to email me and point out my oversight.

Starting in the Cape Cod League, Minnesota's Cole DeVries posted a 3-2 mark with a 3.31 ERA in seven starts. The Gophers' Friday starter (a presumption on my part) tossed 49 innings while fanning 50 batters. That total was good enough to tie DeVries for third place in the Cape in K's. I'll hazard a guess here and suggest that DeVries will contend for the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Award in '07.

Also in the mix for top pitcher next year will be Ohio State's Dan DeLucia. (You can make a very convincing argument that DeLucia, OSU's Friday starter in '06, was the top pitcher in the Big Ten last year.) The Buckeyes' lefty went 2-3 on the Cape. DeLucia had a 3.55 ERA in 38 IP.

Fellow Buckeye southpaw, and yet another potential Player of the Year in '07, Cory Luebke, started six games, going 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA.

Ohio State sent more than just a couple of arms to the Cape. Matt Angle had a fine summer with eventual champion, Cotuit. Angle's .292 average was good enough for 8th in the league. His .412 OBP was the third best on the Cape. Angle also managed to steal 14 bases this summer. (If Angle posted these numbers in the prestigious Cape League while playing for a university a bit further south, he's mentioned as a potential All-America in 2007.)

Buckeye backstop Eric Fryer played at Harwich. The righthanded hitting catcher/outfielder hit .250 with two homers and nine RBI.

Another multi-position star, Michigan's Doug Pickens, donned a Chatham uniform. Pickens, as usual, played the outfield, secondbase and catcher on the Cape. He drove in 13 runs while hitting .215.

The Cape League totals show a Dan Sattler working only five innings going 0-1, I'm assuming that's Purdue's Dan Sattler. Not sure what led to the limited work--jumping to another league, lost in a number crunch, injury?

One Big Ten player who did appear in two leagues is Iowa's Travis Sweet. Sweet played in the Cape League and the Central Illinois League, as well. While with Falmouth on the Cape, Sweet hit .176, but was 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 IP. Sweet also spent time with Quincy in Central Illinois, where he hit .302 with two HR's and 12 RBI. The Hawkeyes' righty went 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in the Central Illinois league.

Ohio State's Josh Hula spent time in the Great Lakes and Cape Cod Leagues this summer, as well. Identical to Purdue's Sattler, Hula didn't get large amounts of playing time at either stop, so it's another case of wondering what limited his action this summer.

Penn State infielder Matt Cavagnaro was a star in the Texas Collegiate League. Cavagnaro's 60 hits paced the league as did his five triples. His 37 runs scored were the third best mark in Texas. Cavagnaro was a two-time player of the week. His strong summer may be a precursor to All-Conference recognition in 2007.

Big Ten Freshman of the Year J.B. Shuck picked up right where he left off. The top newcomer in the conference had such a strong summer in the Great Lakes Collegiate League, Shuck was named by Baseball America as the top pro prospect in that wood bat league. The Ohio State star hit .364 and stole 11 of 16 bases this summer while going 2-0 from the mound with a dazzling 0.95 ERA. I think he's going to be on everyone's short list as pre-season All-Conference and Player of the Year Awards. After an impressive summer, All-America nominations aren't out of the question, either.

Michigan had it's own prized freshman perform dual duties in the Great Lakes League. Adam Abraham, who was selected as the Big Ten Tournament's Most Valuable Player in his inaugural season, hit .287 with 12 RBI in the GLL. The Wolverines righthander also had a 2-2 record and a 2.89 ERA. Abraham will be on some pre-season watch lists, as well.

Michigan's Mike Wilson didn't post eye-popping summer numbers (an ERA over 7.00), but his live arm got scouts attention. Baseball America's staff has him ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Great Lakes League this summer.

Michigan State pitcher Mark Sorenson's GLL season went so well, he also made Baseball America's list of top ten pro prospects in the the league. Sorenson's 6-0 mark and 1.71 ERA was impressive to more than a few.

Fellow Spartan, Kyle Day played for Hays in the Jayhawk League. The MSU catcher hit .371 with 7 HR's, 27 RBI and 31 runs scored. His strong bat earned him a ranking as the fifth best pro prospect in the league according to, you guessed it, Baseball America. (I really should not be paying for that subscription as much as I toss their name around here.)

Posting big offensive numbers was also the norm for Purdue's Ryne White. The Boilermakers slugger hit .329 with four dingers 28 RBI while slugging at a .475 clip in the Central Illinois League.

Other players whose names I found included Ohio State's Jacob Howell (.284 in the Great Lakes League), Wes Schritzinger (.282 in the GLL), Jason Zoeller (.209 in the GLL), and Trey Fausnaugh (2-2, 2.95). Shawn Roof of Illinois (.268, 20 sb in the Coastal Plains League). Northwestern's Tommy Finn (.205, Central Illinois), Michigan's Kevin Cislo (.276, GLL), MSU's Steve Gerstenberger (.247, 13 RBI in the GLL).

Again, I encourage you to contact with the names of the players I didn't recognize here. I'll add to this list or create a new post, if I find more data.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Buckeyes Pace Attendance, Again

Ohio State fans, this post's for you. Well, in part, anyway. The Buckeyes' faithful get a tip of the ol' ball cap as they, once again, led the Big Ten in attendance in 2006. Ohio State not only lead the Big Ten in fans in attendance, but came in 24th overall in college baseball.

Their national ranking is made more extraordinary when you realize that the Buckeyes played far and away the fewest home games of the universities in the top 25. OSU played a mere 17 home dates, while the next closest team was Notre Dame with 24 home games. Bob Todd's squad averaged over 2,000 fans per game.

As is often the case in Big Ten matters, Michigan also can boast a bit. According to Boyd Nation's breakdown, the Wolverines are amongst the best teams to invite to town. Rich Maloney's team was ranked as the 19th best team to increase attendance. Go check out Mr. Nation's work and get a look at '06 attendance figures.

Ohio State's Shuck Earns Praise

Baseball America has been reviewing the collegiate summer leagues and OSU's J.B. Shuck garnered some recognition. Shuck, the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2006, pitched and hit in the Great Lakes Summer League. You can read up on Shuck's summer here. (Scroll down past the league reviews.)

Visting The Big Boys

While only IU has released it's 2007 schedule, in reviewing the slates of non-conference schools, we can see that a few Big Ten institutions are taking on some of college baseball's big names next year.

Purdue leads the charge with a tour of The Peach State. The Boilermakers will visit the Georgia Bulldogs from February 23 - February 25. Little over a week later, Purdue continues it's tour of the SEC with a stop in Alabama to take on Auburn, March 9 - 11.

Coach Schreiber and the Purdue Atheltic Department deserve some extra credit. Their non-conference schedule has been rather impressive in recent years. The Boilers administration isn't afraid to visit anyone. In the position the Big Ten schools find themselves in, especially in terms of RPI, it's very important for the conference's schools to schedule quality non-conference opposition and Purdue has done that as well as anyone in the Big Ten.

Illinois isn't ducking the elite schools, either. The Illini are loading up the bus (or plane) and heading to Knoxville to play Tennessee from March 2 - 4.

Finally, last year's conference Cinderella, Northwestern, is going to the Lone Star State to play Texas Tech, February 9 - 11.

Now, if we can just get some of the traditional big boys to dig out their jackets and travel north.

(Hat tip: College Baseball Blog.)