Posted: 6:10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, 2013
By Don Starks
The Pack didn't win a lot of games last season and hope to improve on that record. What they desperately need is some hitting and a few starting pitchers. The class of freshmen coming in may provide some help as few positions are a lock for returning players.
Nevada Possible Lineup for 2014 Could be Very Young
This is the first of my series on possible lineups for the MWC. Well, it's the first since Collegiate Baseball had an article rating the recruiting classes. The MWC did surprisingly well as all teams, sans San Jose State, were at least in the "others receiving votes" which puts all the programs in the top 100. The top 20 or so were the usual suspects with the SEC and other conferences of that ilk leading the way. Anyway, that is not why we are here. Let's see what the Wolf Pack will possibly put on the field for game number one February.
The Pack didn't have much of a season this year and this year will be a transitional one as they have a new coach. It takes a while for a new coach to make a statement but not Jay Johnson. He went out and brought in a pretty good class of recruits, many of which should make a substantial impact.
What did they lose? To start with their top starting pitcher and one of the best in the MWC in Braden Shipley and two very good hitters in Brooks Klein and Hugo Hernandez. It's hard to replace quality like that but I don't think the team was gutted, just the best are gone. What the Pack needs is some upgrading in the offense. The team hit .258 which ain't too fearful if you're the opposing pitchers. The position players have three returning hitters which are good in first baseman Kewby Meyer, third baseman Austin Byler, and out fielder Brad Gerig. Catcher Ryan Teel also returns and probably will be hard to move out as he has the experience. I know coach will probably will give returning players a chance to cement a starting position but I don't see it. As with all college programs, a returning player has to improve his game. Some will. Kyle Hunt will return as shortstop but the team can't afford a lot of all-field no-hit position players so he better keep an eye over his shoulder. I will accept that at catcher and short but more than that is a killer. I tried to plug in some freshmen in the open positions but there don't seem to be enough to fill the openings. Bryce Graeger is listed as an infielder but I could not find which position. I put him at second with a shrug of my shoulders but DH is also possible. Ok, I'll go with DH with him and put Tyler Davis at second. Tyler played short and pitched in high school so you know he has an arm. Second base is a little easier on the arm except going up the middle. An outfielder that has promise is Trenton Brooks. He could be center or right. The other outfielder might be Tommy Niebergall and I have him starting. The outfield will be mixed a lot during OOC games as only Brad Gerig returns. They have to find some bats.
As I said earlier, Braden Shipley has moved on to the professional ranks. That will be the staff ace. He and Tom Jameson, who is also gone, represent 24 starts that need to come from somewhere. Some fair arms come back and some newbies look good too. Tyler Wells and Barry Timko look to lead the way and it's always good to have two experienced starters coming back. The two other starting positions could come from the freshman ranks. Tom Nowaczewski looks good and was a draft pick. The big problem with him will be making very clear how you pronounce his name. Can you imagine moving to Eastern Europe? It's all ok until you start getting into countries with weird alphabets. I dare you to read the highway signs. I tried and it didn't work for me. Moving right along. Another possible freshman pitcher could be a late signee by the new coach. Evan McMahan comes from Las Vegas and coach thought enough of him to sign him late. I'll go with that. The Pack returns a closer in Michael Fain as he had 9 saves but his ERA better get better. You better you better you bet. Remember that lyric? You know who might get a shot at the closer position? Freshman Thomas Galart. He throws strikes and strikes out batters. That's what you want from your closer. Right?
C - Ryan Teel - .231 and 2
1B - Kewby Meyer - .302 and 2
2B - Tyler Davis - freshman
SS - Kyle Hunt - .216 and 0
3B - Austin Byler - .346 and 8
OF - Trenton Brooks - freshman
OF - Tommy Niebergall - .194 and 1
OF - Brad Gerig - .283 and 2
DH - Bryce Graeger - freshman
SP - Tyler Wells - 4-6 and 4.39
SP - Barry Timko - 1-3 and 5.11
SP - Tom Nowaczewski - freshman
SP - Evan McMahan - freshman
RP - Michael Fain - 3-3 and 7.77
The Pack loses few numbers but those they did lose were pretty good. Outfield is a hole and so is middle infield. I see a lot of freshmen getting looks or starts in three positions and two as starting pitchers. I doubt that will actually happen but the Pack didn't play very well last year and the new coach could feel the new kids on the block are better than the returning players. Hey, go to some fall ball games and tell what's up.