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Grading Beaver Baseball: The Infield

Finishing up a look at the 2014 Beaver Baseball season, the infield is the final group of players to get graded.

Trever Morrison was a fantastic freshman for the Beavs.
Trever Morrison was a fantastic freshman for the Beavs.

Kavin Keyes

Keyes played all over the diamond, generally switching between 1st and 3rd base. While at first it was generally over Gabe Clark who made the occasional mental error at first, and would also replace Caleb Hamilton at 3rd for more offense. He even made a brief appearance at catcher, although that was rare. His versatility was how he kept a starting job as he quickly racked up a few errors at third, but was sufficient at first base, although he was smaller than previous Beaver first basemen.

He played because of his bat however, which had been productive since he was a freshman. He was mashing in the early non-conference games, even hitting above .400 for a bit, but as the season continued his average dropped, most notably in conference games. In Pac-12 play he had a batting average of .286 and in non-conference play he was batting .366. Things only got worse for him in conference play when he got injured against Washington State and missed almost the rest of the year. He did return for the regional and was one of the more productive players for the Beavs there.

Much like Scott Schultz, Keyes did whatever the team required of him. He plugged holes at just about every position, playing acceptably, and producing some nice defensive plays at the end of the season. He played well while he was in, but that lost time hurts as well resulting in a slightly below average season.

Grade: B-

Gabe Clark

Clark played 1st and designated hitter, depending on if coach Casey was looking for more right-handers in the lineup. He played alright in the field, making some miscues most notably in the slopfest against UO, where he made a couple mistakes that actually got him pulled from the game. His bat was what got him on the field, although he sometimes struggled there too. He batted .281 on the year and .240 just in conference play, but he had a knack for clutch hitting. In several tight games Clark delivered with runners in scoring position and was only behind Conforto and Davis in terms of RBI.

There were times that Clark seemed to be one of the surest hitters for the Beavers, eliciting surprise from fans (depending on the fan). Part of what brought on the change was an improvement in his approach, successfully identifying pitches to swing at more often throughout the season. His overall K% and BB% give greater insight to the situation, where he had a 14.7% and a 10.9% respectively. It shows how patient he was during the year and it really helped him bloom from an occasional starter to an everyday starter.

Clark accomplished what Beaver fans hoped he would do to some degree, as he became the leading choice for the Beaver 1st baseman job. He is the frontrunner for the spot next year and the expectation is well-deserved.

Grade: B+

Andy Peterson

Peterson is the definition of a glue guy. Drafted in the 27th round by the Mariners, he was not an elite athlete, but he was still a heck of a baseball player. He did all the little things, he was the best bunter on the team, his defense was superb, and by all accounts he was a great teammate. When he was injured in a dogpile against Washington it was because he was the first guy to hug Logan Ice. The plays were generally there when needed and while he was not putting up numbers like the big stars, he was setting them up for that with hustle and heart.

I could pull up stats and use that to differently describe Peterson, but it would not be an accurate representation. The most telling spot of Andy Peterson's contributions can be shown from the opening game against UCLA. The Bruins were mounting momentum in the top of the 4th and if they could muster one more base hit, the Beavers might have been sunk.

Peterson showed great range on a ground ball struck through the right side, snaring and getting the runner at first. That ended the jam for the Beavers and they went on to win the game without giving up another run.

This is how Peterson should be remembered, for leaving it all on the field and always contributing to his team. He was injured for the tail end of the aforementioned dogpile, and that did mar the end of his year. It showed in the regional when he struggled to bunt, despite him completing the job with regularity in the regular season. That is the only real knock on his year though, and it still was a great year and a career for Peterson at Oregon State.

Grade: A-

Trever Morrison

Morrison was the starting shortstop for the entire season and Casey had his absolute trust. He never really found his bat, but he was out there for his defense. He was terrific on the year, creating a number of great defensive stops, which were also accompanied by the occasional freshman mistake. His fielding percentage of .966 was in the lower third of the team, but he did have a lot of opportunities to make plays. His 9 errors were a team high as well, but again as he had the most opportunities as he led the team in assists with 180.

Peterson and Morrison were also great at turning double plays, Morrison took part in 38 of them on the year. Oregon State was generally successful at turning them to escape from jams, and Morrison started a lot of them. He was a plus defender and despite his mistakes he was great for the season. His real struggles came on the offensive end.

His batting average was .225 for the year which was dead last in all the starters, although his onbase percentage was not as poor team wise, coming in at .350. His K% was a whopping 20.5% with a BB% of 13.9%. He looked at a lot of pitches and even watching the games you could see when he just did not see the pitch for bad swinging strikes, or else he was convinced it was a not a strike. This is the facet he needs to work on the most, as he has terrific speed and was tied with Jeff Hendrix for the team lead in triples with 5. If he can get on base, he will be a real weapon for the Beavers.

In this year however he performed exceedingly well for a freshman thrust into a starting job, and deserves a middle grade.

Grade: B

Caleb Hamilton

Another terrific defensive freshman who was not productive offensively, to sum up Hamilton in one sentence. Like Morrison, he was great in the infield, making a number of great stops, the first two that come to mind are a great stab to steal a hit against Arizona to help keep a Jace Fry no-hit bid alive and against Oregon when he came sliding in on a bunt attempt to secure the out. He has a good arm as well, and got some outs that didn't even seem like they should have happened. It was a fine performance on the year, with not a high number of mistakes.

He was also in the lower third with fielding percentage at .962, with 5 errors and 94 errors. As stated with Morrison, he had more chances to make the mistakes and as such he should not be looked at as a poor fielder as the majority of his play should be recognized as a significant contribution to the club. His offense was wanting though.

His batting average was just above Morrison of the starters at .231, and with a K% of 18.3% he was not too far off from Morrison's total. The 39 strikeouts he totaled were good for second place on the team as well. He did strike a nice homer against Oregon, but his double play he hit into in the final game of the year still burns in the memory as well. Occasionally his bat would get him pulled as well, with Casey trying to get a little more offense out of the line up, but with the only backup being Jerad Casper there was not much of an improvement to be had.

Hamilton came out of nowhere though and contributed well for this team. For any walk-on to be playing at the high level that was, at least defensively, he deserves a top grade.

Grade: A

Logan Ice

Ice was a terrific catcher all season. He worked well with the pitchers, framing pitches well and managing the game well. He threw out a little under half of the runners trying to steal at .471, although it generally felt much higher than that, and with a clean look he did not miss the throw often. Maybe the most impressive stat was 1.000 fielding percentage, not making a single error on the year.

His offense was a bit wanting with a batting average of .250, but his 40 walks(good for 2nd on the team) and resulting .393 on base percentage was significant for the Beavs. He had a great K% at 12.1% and a BB% of 18.6%. Not many Beavers can boast a positive ratio between strikeouts and walks. Ice showed great discipline and poise all year, with his signature moment coming against Washington, blasting a double off the wall for one of the highlights of the year.

Starts at 1:11

The poise would define the year for Ice, as he outplayed Esposito for the spot regardless of the early suspension that Esposito had. Every commentator was wowed with how calmly he played, for his stone-cold demeanor. He probably led the league in temperature related jokes for his play. Like Hamilton, this season was not expected out of him, but hopefully this will propel him to hit even more and continue his terrific play behind the plate.

Grade: A

Thanks for reading this series (if you made it through this entire post), it was a good season for OSU and another banner will be hung. Hard to be too upset with that.

Go Beavs!