Thursday, March 11, 2010

San Diego Tournament Preview (San Diego State)

By FullertonBaseballFan

Friday – San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State had their most successful season in 2009 in nearly twenty years by qualifying for a regional for the first time since 1991 and went 1-2 at the Irvine regional. The Aztecs were 41-23 and led by national player of the year Steven Strasburg and a solid pitching staff that finished in the top 25 in all four major pitching stats that the NCAA keeps track of (ERA, H/9 IP, K/9 IP, BB/9 IP). They lost most of the major contributors from that pitching staff except for All-American closer Addison Reed, who has been moved into the starting rotation, but the Aztecs do return most of the starting position players from last season except for All-MWC catcher Erik Castro, who led the team in AVG, HR, RBI, OBP and SLG, and they were picked to finish 3rd in the MWC by the conference coaches.

San Diego State got off to a slow start this season by losing all four games in their opening series at home with Oklahoma. The Sooners outscored the Aztecs 38-16 and won every game by at least three runs. The stats were a little skewed in the second game when the bullpen gave up sixteen runs in a 17-5 loss. The Aztecs have bounced back from their tough opening weekend to go 5-3, including a series win against their local rivals the USD Toreros, heading into the tournament. San Diego State has squared away most of their pitching issues by allowing 4 R’s or less in six of the last eight games. The Aztecs have also started to hit the ball better and have scored 5 R’s or more in six of the last eight games.

San Diego State’s offensive philosophy is to take a patient approach at the plate and work counts. The Aztecs were in the top 50 in the country in BB’s last season and are walking nearly six times a game but they are also striking out nearly ten times a game. They don’t have much power in their lineup with 7 HR’s and a .360 SLG % and have gotten off to a slow start with a .261 AVG. San Diego State doesn’t bunt much but they will hit and run and steal bases (16-25 SB’s). The Aztecs were a solid defensive team last season with 61 E’s and a .974 fielding % but have had a few issues on defense and have made 17 E’s for a .963 fielding %.

San Diego State’s pitching staff carried the team to a regional last year with a 3.86 ERA but they are starting from scratch in the starting rotation. Their pitching has been better than expected with a 3.94 ERA considering how many pitchers they lost from last season and not having Ryan O’Sullivan available, who was expected to be one of their weekend SP’s but injured his arm in the first inning of his first start. After getting knocked around by Oklahoma the pitching staff has put together some solid outings.


C – JR Matt Parker (RH – .286 BA/.375 OBP/.429 SLG, 1 HR-11 RBI-0 SB) was able to see a decent amount of action behind the plate last season (.247 in 93 AB’s) despite being the backup to Castro. He has hit 5th or 6th most of the time and is tied for the team lead in RBI’s. Parker has done a good job of shutting down the running game and has held opponents to 10-19 on SB attempts.

1B – Soph Jomel Torres (LH – .344/.512/.469, 1-6-3) doesn’t have much power for a 1B (.295 with 1 HR in 95 AB’s last year) but has been an on base machine and leads the team in AVG and OBP. He has usually hit 2nd to help set the table for the middle of the order.

2B – SR Mitch Blackburn (LH – .256/.411/.279, 0-7-0) is the leadoff hitter and has gotten off to a slow start after hitting .306 last season. He doesn’t have much power but is very patient at the plate and was 2nd on the team in BB’s last year and leads the team this season. Blackburn is a good defensive player who has also started three games at SS and made only three errors last year with a .988 FLD %. He was an All MWC pre-season pick by the conference coaches.

SS – SR Brandon Decker (RH – .125/.300/.125, 0-0-1) has been playing SS with O’Sullivan out (O’Sullivan was the SS last season on weekends and the midweek SP). Decker has done a solid job defensively and hasn’t made an error in the eight games he has started but has struggled at the plate again this year after hitting only .250 last season.

3B – Soph Chris Wilson (RH – .241/.371/.310, 0-4-0) has been starting at 3B most of the time the last two weekends. He is also the backup C and has started twice behind the plate. Wilson was solid in a part-time role last season (.298-4-22) and usually hits 7th. FR Corey Black (RH – 1-12) has also gotten some starts at SS and 3B.

LF – Soph Brandon Meredith (RH – .302/.456/.512, 2-11-1) and FR Van Hoosier (RH – .333/.478/.361, 0-5-7) have both played all over the diamond. Meredith has also made starts at RF and 1B and Van Hoosier has also made starts at 3B and more recently 2B. Meredith has batted 3rd every game and gotten off to a good start after losing 20 lbs since last season and is tied for the team lead in HR’s and RBI’s and leads the team in SLG. He does have trouble with making contact after striking out 46 times last year and leads the team with 15 K’s. Meredith was 2nd team All MWC last season after hitting .315 with 41 RBI’s. Van Hoosier has hit all over the lower part of the batting order and has very good speed and easily leads the team in SB’s.

CF – JR Cory Vaughn (RH – .302/.400/.488, 2-8-1) is the best prospect among the position players and is projected to be drafted in the first 5-6 rounds in June. He was 1st team All MWC last season after hitting .329 with 10 HR’s and 51 RBI’s and led the team with 15 SB’s. Vaughn is the cleanup hitter and has gotten off to a solid start but has had trouble making contact after leading the team with 57 K’s last season and has K’d 14 times this year.

RF – SR Josh Chasse (RH – .227/.419/.409, 1-5-2) is a good defensive outfielder but doesn’t have much pop with the bat (.197 in 79 AB’s) and usually hits at the bottom of the order.

DH – FR Blair Moore (LH – .306/.324/.417, 0-7-0) has gotten off to a solid start and has been the DH most of the time and usually hits 6th.


Starting Pitchers

JR Addison Reed (RHP – 2-1, 3.20 ERA, 3 starts, 20 IP, 14 H, 5 BB, 23 K, .203 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP) is a big power pitcher with a fastball in the mid 90’s who was the national leader in saves last season. He started for the Aztecs in their first game of the tournament against UAB. Reed struggled in his first start against Oklahoma (4 R in 4 2/3 IP) before two dominant starts against San Diego and Kentucky when he allowed 3 R on 9 H in 15 IP with 2 BB and 17 K. He is projected to go in the first two rounds of the draft in June.

FR Bryan Crabb (RHP – 1-1, 1.72 ERA, 3 starts, 16 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 16 K, .214 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP) is only 5’10” so he relies on good movement on his off-speed pitches to get batters out, resulting in some walks but him being very tough to hit. He will be starting against Fullerton. Crabb didn’t get out of the 5th inning in his first two starts but allowed only 3 R’s in those starts before throwing seven scoreless innings against Monmouth.

The other SP’s for the Aztecs are SR Andrew Leary (RHP – 0-1, 7.71 ERA, 3 apps, 1 start, 9 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 11 K, .326 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP), JR Craig Rasmussen (LHP – 0-2, 11.05 ERA, 3 apps, 2 starts, 7 IP, 14 H, 0 BB, 6 K, .378 BA, 4 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP) and midweek SP JC transfer Steven Moranda (RHP – 1-0, 4.97 ERA, 5 apps, 2 starts, 13 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 9 K, .260 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP), who will be available out of the bullpen this weekend.

Relief Pitchers

San Diego State is still working on sorting out the closer spot and the other roles in the bullpen with Reed being moved into the starting rotation. Here are the relievers most likely to see action this weekend.

Soph John Pecoraro (RHP – 0-0, 1.59 ERA, 5 apps, 11 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 8 K, .211 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP).
JC transfer Shawn Sanford (LHP – 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 3 apps, 4 IP, 10 H, 6 unearned R, 2 BB, 1 K, .556 BA, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP).
FR Matthew McDaniel (LHP – 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 3 apps, 3 IP, 5 H, 4 unearned R, 3 BB, 1 K, .313 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP).
SR Kegan Sharp (RHP – 1-1, 4.91 ERA, 5 apps, 7 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 7 K, .115 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP).
JC transfer Ryan Wynveen (LHP – 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 6 apps, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 6 K, .269 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 3 WP).

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