“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again”-Field Of Dreams
Beaver Nation... It’s baseball season! The 2016 Oregon State baseball season ended with a thud as the NCAA selection committee spurned the Beavers and Pat Casey missed the post-season for the first time since 2008, but this year’s squad hopes to make TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha their own personal field of dreams in a few months, and they may just have the talent to do it. The Beavers open 2017 as a consensus top 10 team, and favorite to win the Pac-12. Pat Casey will only have a few holes to fill from last year’s squad, and the memories of getting hosed last spring should light a fire under this team that can propel them to Omaha.
Who is gone?
Logan Ice: Drafted by Cleveland in the second round
Travis Eckert: Drafted by Kansas City in the seventh round
Trevor Morrison: Drafted by Milwaukee in the twelfth round
John Pomeroy: Drafted by Pittsburgh in the thirteenth round
Caleb Hamilton: Drafted by Minnesota in the twenty-third round
Billy King: The slugging first baseman/designated hitter transferred to Northwest Nazarene University
The starting infield seems to be pretty locked in at the moment
Catcher: Adley Rutschman
True freshman out of Sherwood High School. The switch hitting Rutschman should provide the Beavers with some needed pop from both sides of the plate, as well as some solid defense behind the dish. Rutschman can also play along the infield if needed. Rutschman also handled the kickoffs for the football team, which doesn’t really come in handy on a baseball field, but it’s cool nonetheless.
First Base: KJ Harrison
The slugging junior out of Hawaii led the team in doubles, home runs, and RBIs last year. The All-Pac-12 first baseman has appeared on several preseason All-American lists and will be a highly regarded prospect for the 2017 MLB Draft. Harrison also has experience as a catcher if needed.
Second Base: Cadyn Grenier
Though the talented sophomore struggled at times during his freshman campaign he showed a lot of promise and should be much improved during his sophomore season. One of the top recruits of his class as a high school shortstop will most likely be shifting from third base to second base for the 2017 season.
Shortstop: Nick Madrigal
Last years starting second baseman, and Pac-12 freshman of the year may be the best overall player on the team. The sophomores name appears on almost every preseason All-American list. He switches from second base to shortstop to replace Trevor Morrison. Pat Casey expects big things from Madrigal this year.
Third Base: Michael Gretler
Gretler filled in for a slumping Grenier mid way through last season, and played well enough to make it hard for Pat Casey to take him out of the lineup. Gretler should be the everyday third baseman but also has experience at catcher should Rutschman struggle as a true freshman.
Utility: Christian Donahue
I honestly had no idea where to put Donahue on this list because the kid can play anywhere and everywhere. He has experience in the infield and the outfield as well as designated hitter. His versatility and his batting average(led the team with .339 last season) should help him find a way into the lineup more often than not.
The outfield is not as clear cut as the infield, with a lot of experienced guys fighting for only three spots. I expect the outfield lineup to be pretty fluid in the first few weeks as Pat Casey figures out his best group. We may also see the outfield change based on lefty/righty match-ups throughout the season, as well as having an outfielder as the designated hitter.
Missed last season due to injury, but played as a true freshman, starting 24 games and batting .258. The athletic outfielder should see some time in centerfield, but can play the corners as well.
Saw time in centerfield last year. While he didn’t hit as well as he would have liked last year his defensive abilities should continue to get him plenty of playing time.
The junior out of Lake Oswego was able to force his way into the lineup last year hitting .271. Should see time in right, left field and DH.
During his freshman campaign Trevor struggled to produce the power he showed as a high school prospect, but he spent the summer in the cape cod league honing his skills and should still prove to be a valuable piece for Pat Casey.
The sophomore, who saw action in 22 games last year, will need to improve his numbers at the plate to find his way into the lineup. The versatile Atwood can play the infield as well.
Kyle Nobach is not on the final 35 man roster released today and from what I understand, that means he is no longer a part of the team and will not be eligible to play this season. The details of the situation are currently unknown, but Nobach has been battling injury as of late. Losing Nobach is an unfortunate blow to the team given his talent and experience
The rotation loses Travis Eckert, but will return several guys with starting experience along with some younger players who may push for the third and fourth starter spots.
The junior will most represent the Beavs most experienced starting pitcher. Heimlich and Fehmel have already locked up spots in the starting rotation and should be a tough match up for any opponent.
The sophomore started out in the bullpen last season and pitched well enough to force himself into the rotation when Thompson struggled. Will form a potent 1-2 punch with Luke Heimlich.
Missed last year due to injury. Tweedt is currently slotted as the 3rd starter, but will have to pitch well the first couple weeks to cement his role in the rotation.
Has experience as a starter and out of the pen. Was a part of the rotation most of last season until he was replace by Bryce Fehmel. Could contend for the 3rd starter spot.
The senior, who may also see some time in the outfield, should be one of OSU’s top relievers. Church can also spot start if needed.
The senior will again be the closer. Recorded 11 saves last season. His name has appeared on several award watch lists.
Wild Card- Drew Rasmussen: The author of the only perfect game in OSU history is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and there is no timeline for his return. There is talk that he could return at some point during the season which would provide the staff with some great depth. If Rasmussen does return this season I would expect him to come out of the bullpen to limit his innings.
Other names to keep an eye on: Mitch Hickey (JR) Jordan Britton(SO), Jake Mulholland(FR), Tommy Paul(SO), Grant Gambrell(FR), Mitchell Verburg(FR)
What To Expect
Wins... and hopefully a lot of them. The Beavers have a very talented and deep team and one of the best coaches in all of college baseball. They are ranked in the top 10 of all major polls and have been picked by the Pac-12 coaches to win the league. The expectation for this team should be to finish at or near the top of the conference, and not only make the post-season but have a real chance at returning to Omaha.