With Oregon State back in town after an extended stay in Arizona we know a little bit more about this year's version of the Beaver Baseball team. Here are some assorted thoughts and stats from the first two weeks of the season.
- The offense has some serious potential, led by the potential of fantastic freshman KJ Harrison. He is leading the team with a .441 batting average, 4 homers, 13 RBI, with a slugging percentage of .971. The kid has been absolute stud and has already been referred to as the new Michael Conforto, which seems a bit much, but he is deserving of hype as he is playing fantastic so far.
- The rotation behind Andrew Moore is unsettled so far. Jake Thompson was the expected Saturday starter in the off-season, but after an injury he has been the 4th starter and has struggled, only going 2 innings in his last start against Kansas. Luke Heimlich struggled as well although he made it much deeper into the game. Travis Eckert had a better start, but no one has really set themselves apart so far. The Beavers need more production out of their starters and maybe that will come from current bullpen arms.
- Speaking of that bullpen a handful of pitchers have stepped up above the others, namely Drew Rasmussen, Mitch Hickey, Austin Woodward, and Sam Tweedt in that order.
- Rasmussen has been solid, throwing heat in the mid 90s and using solid offspeed stuff as well. He actually leads OSU in strikeouts with 13, even higher than Andrew Moore who has 11. Hickey had a save and blew one as well, but he was also throwing heat and had solid offspeed stuff as well. Woodward had a nice last weekend, and was the first called when Thompson got the early hook. He was also the only reliever who could help the Beavers escape against Kansas State when they were in the middle of a huge rally. Three pitchers tried before him, but he was the first to succeed and get out of the inning. Tweedt has been acceptable so far, with only 1 hit allowed in 4 innings of work. The rest of the bullpen is struggling however, hopefully they can figure it out.
- Pat Casey is not afraid to mix things up. He let Trever Morrison play for all of last year through any offensive woes just for his defense. This season he sent an early message by pulling Morrison from his shortstop slot and slid over Caleb Hamilton with Michael Gretler taking over third. T-Mo has caught fire since then, going on such a tear that he has moved all the way to second on the team in batting average with .423. A successful move I wager.
- This team has guts, with three walk-off wins already they have fought through tough games against Northwestern, Michigan State, and Kansas State. Those wins could be confidence building games for a very young club.
- More offense out of the outfield would be a nice development as well, a multitude of outfielders have played including freshmen Joe Gillette, Elliott Cary, Scotland Church, Joey Jansen, and Kyle Nobach. The 5 of them have combined for a .220 average so far. That drop-off is fairly massive from last year's corner outfielders. These are mostly all young guys so there is lots of room for growth still, but hopefully some of that comes this season.
This is going to be a fascinating season, it is completely different from the last couple of years where just about every position had an established player. This year will be unpredictable, but hopefully the ups will exceed any downs.