Saturday, December 29, 2007

Five Make Louisville Slugger's All-America Squads

On Christmas Eve, Collegiate Baseball released their pre-season Louisville Slugger All-America Team. Five players from the Big Ten have earned recognition from CB. Michigan landed three players with P/DH Zach Putnam gaining a second team nod as a utility player. Putnam's teammates, SS Jason Christian and 1B/C Nate Recknagel, each landed on the third team.

Penn State closer Drew O'Neil and Purdue 1B Ryne White were the final two Big Ten players receiving All-America status from CB. Both were third team selections.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Michigan Cracks Ping! Top 30

Ping! has issued their pre-season Top 30. The University of Michigan checks in at number twenty-one. Arizona State is Ping's pre-season number one. (Just for the record, I'd select ASU, as well.)

In addition to including Michigan in their Top 30, Ping! has submitted a preview for the Wolverines.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Michigan Checks In At # 10

Collegiate Baseball has issued their pre-season poll and the University of Michigan is ranked number ten in the nation. No other Big Ten squad made the initial list, although both Ohio State and Minnesota did receive votes. Arizona was voted as the pre-season # 1.

It's great to see a Big Ten team in the polls, especially one in the top ten. It will be interesting to watch Rich Maloney's team in the position of having an even larger bullseye on their back. It's one thing to have everyone in the conference looking to dethrone you, it's another to walk into that month-long road trip with the number ten ahead of your name.

Update 12/22/07: That trip to the eye doctor may need to be bumped up. I missed seeing Penn State in the "Others Receiving Votes" space. Now, how I missed it when they come before either the Gophers or Bucks is beyond me, but I got a heads-up from a PSU fan in the comments. My thanks to psu4ever. My apologies to the Nittany Lions and BTH readers for missing a layup.

On a positive note, I'm glad to see four Big Ten teams get some degree of pre-season love.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Links

A day after our first significant snowfall of the winter, I'm providing a few baseball links to help keep our minds on warmer thoughts. I toss in a ongoing rant to help melt the ice, as well.

First, there's top Midwest programs. The Big Ten manages to land three of the top five places. (Yes, I'm going to make you click on the link to see which three and in what order. Sorry.)

Rivals also mentions the Michigan/Ohio State baseball rivalry.

Michigan's Jason Christian is "On The Radar" of Doug Kroll's list of top returning shortstops.

I can't recall if I posted this one before, but Rivals Baseball Editor Kendall Rogers also offered up this piece on Michigan's success.

In keeping with BTH unwritten policy, here is the link to CSTV's Kroll's blog about the Wallace Award Watchlist. (The unwritten BTH policy states that if you mention this blog, and I know about it, you get a link here. Oh, and it helps if you say something positive. Negative comments are generally just emailed to me.) As Doug points out, a number of lesser known baseball programs landed multiple award nominees.

Here, again, is my problem. No, not being obsessive-compulsive. That's a different problem. The issue I'm typing of is one where Southern Illinois lands three Wallace Award nominations and Michigan gets only two. Ohio State has only one. So, SIU has three players as good as Nate Recknagel, Jason Christian, J.B. Shuck and Jake Hale, all of whom got overlooked. It's lunacy.

Not only do noted baseball programs like Brown and Delaware land two players -- just as many as the Wolverines and one more than Ohio State, "my" Oakland University can't get a single nod? Seriously, are any of the three, yes, three Appalachian State players selected mathematically more likely to win the Wallace Award than Golden Grizzlies Andrew Stafford or Justin Wilson? The simple answer is no. So why not honor the kids and help the program by including them?

Don't get me wrong, I say let the Salukis have three nominees. Give Brown and Delaware as many spots as seem deserving, but don't leave out the other players that warrant a pre-season nomination. If you are worried about the list being too big, then, perhaps, you pass out the honor a bit too loosely. As it stands now, over 200 names make the watchlist. What's a few more going to hurt? Your reputation?

The College Baseball Foundation -- overseers of the Wallace Award -- either needs to modify their standards to keep the list smaller or expand the list to include everyone worthy of the recognition.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rivals Previews The Big Ten

Kendall Rogers at has released his 2008 Big Ten Baseball Preview. Go check it out.

Iowa Feature On Kevin Hoef

The University of Iowa has released a feature entitled 24 Hawkeyes to Watch. The objective is to introduce one athlete from each of the university's 24 sports. For Jack Dahm's baseball program, SS Kevin Hoef is the Hawkeye to Watch.

As the release indicates, and I've been mentioning around here, Hoef had a strong summer with the bat in the Cape Cod League and looks ready to emerge as one of the Big Ten's top performers in 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Putnam Gets NCBWA Nod

The University of Michigan's Zach Putnam was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association 2008 pre-season All-America Team yesterday. The Michigan junior was selected to the NCBWA first team as the utility player.

Last season, Putnam hit .330 with eight homers and fifty-nine RBI while going 8-5 with a 3.87 ERA as Michigan's Friday starter. Putnam was the only Big Ten representative on any of the three All-America teams the NCBWA chose.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2008 Michigan State Schedule

Michigan State University released their 2008 baseball schedule (.pdf file) late last week. The Spartans season will begin in Florida with a three game series in DeLand. On February 22, Coach Grewe's nine will face the host, Stetson. That game will be followed by a Saturday match-up with Missouri before closing out the visit with a Sunday tilt versus Connecticut.

From Florida, MSU travels to Texas. The Spartans will be in Beaumont from February 28 - March 2. The opposition will come from Lamar, Kansas State, Arkansas State and KSU again in the finale. Then its a hop over to Baton Rouge where Michigan State will play two against Louisiana State beginning on March 4.

After the two game stop in Cajun Country, it's back to the Lone Star State for three games in Houston. Western Carolina, Rice and Creighton will take on the Spartans on successive days beginning March 6.

The pre-season road trip comes to a close in Greenville, South Carolina where MSU will play a three game series against Quinnipiac, March 14 - 16. Once that's over with, Coach Grewe and the boys come home to Kobs Field and host Oakland University. The Golden Grizzlies will be in East Lansing from March 21 - 23.

Once OU leaves town, the Big Ten season kicks off with a visit from Illinois. The other home conference series feature Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana. The Spartans will host the Saturday doubleheader with Michigan as part of their annual home and home and home series.

The road series for MSU are at Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue, as well as the single games against Michigan on Friday (April 18) and Sunday (April 20).

Other highlights of their schedule include a game against the minor league Lansing Lugnuts as well as a two games versus Central Michigan -- one in East Lansing, one in Mt. Pleasant. As always, check the official schedule to see the complete list of games and times.

With this release, I believe we now have the schedules for all ten teams in the conference. All that's left is to get through winter.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wallace Award Nominees

The watchlist for the 2008 Brooks Wallace Award has been released. For those of you new to college baseball, and as the hits are up, I'm guessing not all of you are familiar with this stuff, the Wallace Award is one of 265 college player of the year honors.

The good news about the '08 Wallace Award watchlist is that a number of Big Ten players have been nominated. Here's the list:

Zach Putnam, Michigan
Derek VanBuskirk, Michigan
Nate Hanson, Minnesota
Matt Nohelty, Minnesota
Jake Owens, Northwestern
Justin Miller, Ohio State
Drew O'Neil, Penn State
Matt Bischoff, Purdue
Ryne White, Purdue

All fine selections. I congratulate all of them on the recognition. However, and you knew there was going to be an "however", a couple of players got left off the list. Actually, more than a couple. I'll begin by hitting the obvious ones out of the park first.

Michigan's Nate Recknagel and Jason Christian were omitted. Big, honkin' boo-boo by those that make the list. Yeah, I know. You already had two Maize and Bluers, can't have more than that. Someone might think those northern boys can play.

Another glaring omission is Michigan State's Chris Roberts. I know Roberts is only a sophomore, but he hit cleanup as a freshman and should be ready to explode in his second campaign.

Then, we come to a pair of Indiana second year standouts. Both Matt Bashore and Josh Phegley got overlooked. Two more enormous mistakes.

Are you kidding me? Where in the world are Ohio State's Jake Hale and J.B. Shuck? No sign of either and that's simply hard to imagine.

That's seven huge and I mean HUGE errors of omission. Several somebodies were asleep at the wheel during this nomination process. Now, if I were asked to submit a list, here are some other names that I'd be pondering.

Spartans Kyle Day and Steve Gerstenberger, as well as, Illinois' Tanner Roark, Ryan Hastings and Brandon Wikoff.

Two more Hoosiers in the form of Andrew Means and Evan Crawford, plus Iowa's Kevin Hoef who just tore up the Cape Cod League. Jake Goebbert of Northwestern got hosed in this process, as well. As did Joe Blackburn of Penn State.

All this makes you wonder if anyone from the Big Ten submit a list? It's also indicative of the general lack of knowledge about Big Ten baseball amongst those who are "in the know" around college baseball.