There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem — once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971
At 6:30 tomorrow, our Bears will take the field for the first time in 2015 for a 3 game set with Cal Poly (USA Today preseason #13). In the spirit of "Know Thine Enemy", here is a brief preview of the Mustangs.
Last season, Cal Poly earned their 3rd regional bid in 6 years. In fact, they hosted their own regional losing out to Pepperdine in the final. With 19 returning letter winners, Cal Poly will look to kick off another strong season. However, they had 6 players taken in the 2014 MLB Amateur draft. That means they have a lot of questions yet unanswered. One thing they do not have to be concerned about is the kid taking the bump tomorrow.
Junior pitcher, and preseason All-American, Casey Bloomquist leads the Mustangs' staff. Last season, Bloomquist was their most consistent pitcher with a 12-2 record and a 1.56 ERA. He sits comfortably at 88 mph on his fast ball with movement and has an absolutely nasty slider. I know he throws a circle change up, but I have not heard remarkable things said of it. Either way, he is the real deal. He will surely provide a test for our offense that struggled to
score do much of anything last year. We will likely see sophomores Justin Calomeni (8-2, 3.68 ERA) and Slater Lee (3-2, 6.20) Saturday and Sunday.
Offensively they return Preseason All American Mark Mathias at second base. Mathias was a .386 hitter in 2014 and is pretty dynamic. However, he will not be in their lineup as he is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Based on the numbers I looked at, it seems they will be replacing a lot of last year's offensive production. It will be interesting to see how they regroup at the plate, but considering they come in ranked #13 in the preseason polls, we should expect them to be very talented.
The Bears will take the field the same way they left it last year. Short-staffed. For starters, Coach Steve Smith released this statement yesterday:
"Due to a violation of team rules, neither Daniel Castano nor Mitch Price will be available to start during this weekend’s opening series with Cal Poly. The earliest either could see action this season will be off the bench on Sunday
As if that were not enough, we also will be missing Brad Kuntz. My first reaction was to assume we should expect Austin Stone to start tomorrow night. However, I think Drew Tolson (4-5, 5.1 ERA last year) will go Friday night as I have not heard anything about Stone's health. I am assuming Ryan Smith will be one of the weekend starters this weekend, but honestly I can not say much of anything with certainty about the pitching staff with the injury situation we have been dealing with.
We do not expect our Bears to be historically bad at the plate. More maturity and at bats in the summer and fall, we should expect only improvement. It will be interesting to see how many of the young guys we brought in will push last year's starters for playing time and the impact of the red shirts. One of these young guys who may get a chance this weekend with Price out is Kameron Esthay (RS Freshman out of Moss Bluff, La). It will also be interesting to see if Dodson or Menard is the main guy behind the plate. Menard hit pretty well early for us before hitting a wall offensively and finishing with a .219 batting average.
We are not hearing things about having to manufacture runs out of the program. I think that means improvements are coming, but with the challenge Bloomquist presents, we should not look at tomorrow as a referendum on the season offensively. That is, unless of course we come out on fire and crush the ball all over the park. Then, it will be a clear indication that 2015 will be fun. As usual, being the first part of the year, I expect pitchers to have an advantage, especially in February on the Brazos.
Are you going to be there? Hope to see you 6:30 at the Ballpark. Feed the Beaver!