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D1 baseball staff | October 19, 2022

Here's the inside scoop across fall college baseball

Every MCWS Most Outstanding Player from 1995-2022

Fall workouts continue across the country and the D1Baseball.com writers are on the scene, while also talking to plenty of scouts and coaches about the latest standouts.

In this week’s Fall NuggetBook, D1Baseball has the inside scoop on Mississippi State, Troy, Illinois, Nebraska, Illinois State, High Point, Omaha, Iowa and Queens.

Let’s dive into 4,500 words of nuggets:

Troy-Mississippi State

• Mississippi State has plenty of new faces on this year’s team, and one of those new faces that impressed against Troy was 6-foot-3, 215-pound, righthanded pitcher Nate Dohm. Dohm transferred to MSU from Ball State this past summer, and he has been solid this fall, showing a live arm with a loose frame. He was up to 97 mph against the Trojans … Another transfer, Texas kickback and righthanded pitcher Aaron Nixon is a potential re-breakout candidate in 2023. Nixon was very good as a freshman two seasons ago before struggling last season. It appears that he has found his stride again, as he showed a big-time slider against the Trojans … Last but not least on the mound, keep an eye on freshman switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje. He showed superstar potential against the Trojans, sitting 90-91 mph from the left side and up to 95 mph from the right side. He should make an immediate impact for this Bulldogs team. 

• From an offensive standpoint, Mississippi State’s Slate Alford was impressive against the Trojans. He could be primed to have a breakout campaign after hitting .208 in less than 100 at bats last season. Former Mississippi Player of the Year Dakota Jordan had a strong showing, while switch-hitting infielder David Mershon showed that he could be an immediate impact guy. He’s a spark plug type of player. Samford transfer Colton Ledbetter has the ability to be what I was told a ‘scary’ hitter in the SEC in the spring, while from a defensive standpoint, Lane Forsythe showed out against the Trojans. You can see a clip of one of his catches, here: 

• Troy head coach Skylar Meade was sky high on Brady Fuller’s potential entering his first season with the program last year. It was easy to see why as the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder, shined against Mississippi State, sitting 92-95 mph with his fastball and tossing two shutout innings. As a side note, Fuller was up to 96 at Troy’s Scout Day … Eastern Michigan transfer righthander Zach Fruit, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, also impressed with two shutout innings and a fastball that was anywhere from 92-93 and up to 94 mph. Fruit was up to 95 mph at Scout Day … Ben Thompson was 92-93 and up to 94 mph with his fastball with three strikeouts in two shutout innings, while Grady Gorgan put together a solid showing with three strikeouts in two innings … In terms of true freshmen on the mound, Zak Szabo was solid in a quick look, sitting 91-93 mph with his fastball along with a mid-80s slider. He struck out a batter in an inning.

• Kole Myers had an impressive offensive day for the Trojans, hitting a two-run home run. He also ran a 6.5 60 at Scout Day … Ethan Kavanaugh showed a mature offensive approach, and the same can be said for Tre Cobb. Additionally, keep an eye on Trojans freshman slugger Brooks Bryan. He was impressive against the Bulldogs, going 3-for-3 and finding the good part of the barrel on a consistent basis. 

— Kendall Rogers

Connecticut

• The Huskies really like what they’ve seen from their transfers so far this fall, particularly lefthanded pitcher Andrew Sears and righthanded pitcher Stephen Quigley. Sears has been up to 93-94 mph with his fastball, while Quigley has been up to 93. Dom Freeberger is a graduate transfer who will be a Swiss-army knife for the Huskies. He can legitimately play every position on the field, and he’s up to 94 mph on the mound. Another Wheaton transfer, outfielder Jake Studley has impressed with his pop at the plate. As for first-year players, freshman Ryan Daniels is making a strong first impression. Daniels has some serious power from the left side of the plate and should make an immediate impact, particularly from a power standpoint.

• In terms of returning players, David Smith and Korey Morton brought the speed to the diamond for UConn’s annual Scout Day. Smith ran a 6.4 60-yard-dash while Morton ran a 6.29. As for returning pitchers, sophomore righthanded pitcher Brady Afthim and fellow righty Jake Sullivan have both been up to 93 this fall.

— Kendall Rogers

Iowa-Iowa Central 

Top pitching prospect Ty Langenberg toed the rubber to start the 14-inning scrimmage as the Hawkeyes hosted Iowa Central JC on September 30. True to form, the righthander made easy work, striking out two and throwing just 11 total pitches for a 1-2-3 inning. His fastball sat 92, while his best pitch, a sinking changeup, dove to the plate at 85-86. It’s a firm pitch, but the action is live and consistent, giving him a major weapon in his four-pitch arsenal. His other offerings included a cutter (83-84) and slider (79-80). One of his many standout abilities is his feel for varying spin and shape. His fastball is average in terms of spin rate (2000-2200 rpm), yet he can kill spin on his change-of-pace (1500-1700s) and create spin on his slider and cutter, both in the 2500-2600s. Langenberg enters the 2023 draft as a top three round prospect in my book. Fifth-year senior lefty Jared Simpson followed Langenberg to the mound and worked a scoreless second inning with an easy 91-93 mph fastball and a near average pro quality split changeup in the low-80s. Long Beach State transfer Zach Voelker displayed a high effort and deceptive delivery, pitching a scoreless third inning with a 91-93 mph fastball that played up and a tight, late-biting breaking ball at 75-76. He also mixed the tempo in his delivery, adding to the difficulty of squaring him up. Freshman lefty Cade Obermueller had his worst outing of the fall season to date, struggling with the control of his lively low-90s fastball. However, he worked around three walks to strike out the side in his scoreless inning of work. Throwing 31 pitches, Obermueller topped at 93 with his four-seam fastball, while mixing a 87-89 mph sinker and a 77-78 mph slider. He doesn’t possess the ideal arm action as he works under the baseball and gets pushy, but it’s a quick arm and there’s plenty to like about his future for the Hawkeyes. Last season’s leading hitter for the Hawkeyes, Keaton Anthony, took the mound in the fifth inning, shoving his 88-90 mph fastball into the zone, while complementing it with a usable 78-81 breaking ball and a low-80s changeup. Will Chistopherson stood out for his hard, sweeping breaking ball and confident presence on the mound. His fastball reached 93, but it was the late two-plane action of his breaking ball that dropped jaws. Striking out all six batters he faced over two innings on 28 total pitches, the right-hander dazzled with a 83-85 mph slanting slider (2700+ rpm) and a harder version cutter at 89-90. The slider reached an elite level of 22” of horizontal break, averaging 17-18”. Walks (21 in 15.1 IP) hindered the performance of right-hander Marcus Morgan as a freshman last season, but on this look he pounded the zone with a fastball up to 96 mph. It was a great sight for one who could become a top-round prospect in 2024.

For what has to be an early leader for the All-Fitt team in 2023, freshman infielder Gable Mitchell is the grandson of Hawkeye wrestling legend, Dan Gable. With a grappler’s mindset on the field, Mitchell also looked to be a coach’s dream with his ultra-aggressive style of play. It’s a style that will surely rub off on his teammates. He’s quick and fast, grading out as a 70 runner on the pro scale. Combined with his aggressive nature and high-level instincts, it’s an impact tool at the college level. At the plate, the 5-foot-9 switch-hitter collected three base hits in four at-bats, including a hustle double. Shortstop Michael Seegers led off the game with a triple and scored the game’s first run. He also added a single in the fifth for a 2-for-4 showing at the plate on the day. With four hits in four at-bats Wofford transfer Brennen Dorighi sparkled for the Hawks. The first baseman’s swing is long through the zone for consistent contact to all fields. After a strong summer in the Appy League, outfielder Sam Petersen continued his stellar fall, reaching base three times in five plate appearances. Junior Andy Nelson recorded one of the day’s top exit velocities of 100.4 mph on a line drive single in the sixth inning. The infielder is strong, fast and quick-twitch. He has all the tools and abilities to become a Day Two prospect, however he will need to continue to improve his consistency at the plate. The Hawkeye’s top exit velocity of the day was struck by DH Raider Tello with a 101.7 laser double to left field in the first inning. Tello added two more hits and also reached base via a walk and hit by pitch.

— David Seifert

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Indiana State-Illinois

The Sycamores traveled to Champaign to face the Illini in a 14-inning contest. Heading to the 8th inning, the score was tied at zero with just four hits between the two teams when fourth-year sophomore outfielder Danny Doligale stepped to the plate and lifted a fly ball into the right center field gap. The drive was miscommunicated by the outfielders, misplayed into an inside-the-park home run and gave Illinois a 1-0 lead. The Sycamores would battle back and eventually “win” the scrimmage by the score of 8-3.

Making the start against Indiana State was strong-armed junior Jack Crowder. The 6-foot-4, 250 pound right-hander pumped his high-spin (2600+ rpm) heater into the zone consistently at 94-95, touching 96. He finished with a better-than-average, slider up to 84 mph. The pitch started quietly in his first inning or work, but it finished loudly with two swinging strikeouts during his second and final inning pitched. Crowder also flashed a usable changeup against lefthanded batters. Next up on the mound for the Illini was another junior, Jack Wenninger. Setting up his 91-94 mph fastball with a 78-81 mph 12/6 curveball as his top pitch, the 6-foot-4 right-hander threw two scoreless innings. Riley Gowens followed Wenninger to the mound, pitching a scoreless fifth. The big right-hander typically pitches in the 92-95 range, but his velo was down on this look, topping at 92 and sitting 91. His best pitch was an average low-80s changeup that he located armside, inducing a swing-through for a strikeout. Filling the zone with more velocity in the ninth inning was Wright State transfer, Logan Tabeling. Keeping his best pitch, the breaking ball, in his back pocket, Tabeling focused on pounding the zone with his higher-spin (2400s) at 91-94 mph. He’s more thrower than pitcher at this point in his development, but the upside is obvious for the sophomore right handed pitcher.

Leading the Illini offensively was second-year freshman outfielder Christian Smith who reached base three times in four plate appearances and grad student Zak Hartleb who had three base hits.

Besides the lone miscue that led to Doligale’s sprint around the bases, the Sycamores shined defensively, led by fourth-year junior shortstop Josue Urdaneta and strong-armed Henry Brown at the hot corner. The 5-foot-9 Urdaneta runs just average, but shows strong lateral quickness and good instincts for plus range. He was especially adept at going to his left. He plays low with quick, yet soft hands. The switch-hitter also laced a pair of singles in his four at-bats. Redshirt freshman Brown showed off a plus arm with very good carry across the diamond. Offensively, he is a work in progress, but he showed some promise with hard contact in two of his three plate appearances. Another slick defender for Indiana State was sophomore second baseman Randal Diaz who showed plus range and fringe-average arm strength. With a balanced and polished approach at the plate, he put the bat on the ball, but did not record a base hit. He’s currently an under the radar 2024 draft prospect who batted .304 as a true freshman last spring. Standing out in the batter’s box was fourth-year junior catcher Grant Magill, who looked very comfortable stroking line drives in his first two at-bats, one landing for the Sycamores' first hit of the ballgame in the sixth inning.

On the mound, sophomore lefty Jared Spencer got the starting nod, and he answered the bell with a scoreless first. Working with a very deceptive and higher effort delivery from a three-quarter release point, he pumped 92-94 fastballs, facing the minimum in his lone inning of work. Taking the ball for the second inning was last season’s ace, Matt Jachec. A nine-game winner with a 2.88 ERA in 2022, the competitive, high pitchability right-hander retired the Illini in order, striking out two, mixing an 89-90 mph fastball with a slanting three-quarter action slider. Southpaw Zach Davidson worked a scoreless third inning, featuring a 89-90 mph fastball and same look 83-84 mph changeup. Another polished strike-thrower, last season’s closer Connor Fenlong, threw a scoreless fourth inning, filling the zone with a low-90s sinker and a low-spin (1400s rpm) changeup. Right-hander Joey Hurth threw another zero for the Sycs, mixing a 87-89 mph fastball with a higher spin (2600s rpm) slider ranging from 80-83. Ultra competitive fourth-year junior lefty Cam Edmonson continued his return from TJ surgery, showing a 87-89 mph fastball and good arm speed on a low-80s changeup. 

— David Seifert

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Nebraska-Omaha 

Nebraska and Omaha got together in front of a robust crowd at Tal Anderson Field, the Mavericks’ home venue, for a 14-inning exhibition. Though the exhibition was played as a pair of seven-inning games, Nebraska outscored Omaha 9-1 over the course of the entire 14 innings. 

In junior lefthanders Emmett Olson and Jace Kaminska, the latter a transfer from Wichita State, Nebraska has the makings of an intriguing one-two rotation punch, and both showed well in the exhibition. Olson started the game and threw two scoreless innings, followed by two scoreless with four strikeouts by Kaminska. 

• Nebraska junior infielders Max Anderson and Brice Matthews are going to be catalysts for the Huskers in 2023, and there was plenty of scouting heat in attendance in Omaha to see that duo. They were treated to a two-hit day with a team-leading three RBIs by Anderson, who is coming off of a big summer in the Cape Cod League, where he batted .312 with a .383 on-base percentage. 

• The top name to know on the Omaha roster is junior third baseman Mike Boeve, who along with Anderson and Matthews, was a big draw for scouts. He had just one hit against Nebraska but also had a couple of loud outs. Coming off of batting .364/.491/.729 with 23 doubles, eight home runs and 12 stolen bases with more walks (39) than strikeouts (29) a season ago, Boeve is thought of as a top five round draft pick in the 2023 draft. He’s a physical presence at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and he showed the power to match in 2022 after showcasing mostly gap power as a freshman in 2021, but it’s his hit tool that stands out most and makes him one of the best offensive threats at the mid-major level in college baseball. He’ll be the clear centerpiece of the Omaha lineup in 2023. 

• Among the strong class of transfers at Omaha, Central Michigan transfer Drew Lechnir, who transferred alongside his twin brother Zach, stood out. He had three hits and projects to be a top-of-the-order bat for the Mavs next season. Another impact transfer to watch is Houston Christian (formerly known as Houston Baptist) transfer Brennen Bales, who is coming off of batting .333/.410/.494 last season. He’ll look to pull double duty as lineup protection for Boeve and the team’s closer. Last season on the mound, he allowed 13 earned runs in 10 innings, but he did strike out 17 batters in those limited innings using a four-pitch mix headlined by a fastball up to 93 mph. 

• Omaha is optimistic about its pitching depth going into this season. It returns two weekend starters in fourth-year junior lefthander Caleb Riedel, who had a 1.49 ERA in 60.1 innings last season, and fourth-year junior Charlie Bell, a 6-foot-5 righty who had a 3.82 ERA last season in 70.2 innings, plus junior righthander Harrison Kreiling, who last season struck out 49 batters in 32.1 innings, primarily as a reliever. Kreiling got a few midweek starts down the stretch in 2022, throwing six shutout innings against both Kansas and Minnesota along the way, and that has given the coaching staff the confidence to look at him as a weekend arm in 2023. Also in the rotation mix at this stage are 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore lefthander Brady LeJeune-DeAcutis, a transfer from Texas Tech, junior college transfer righthander Preston Tenney and junior college transfer lefthander Luke Gainer

— Joe Healy

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Illinois State

On paper, Illinois State is in great shape on the mound heading into the 2023 season, as it lost just one of its top five arms, Colin Wyman, from a pitching staff that finished third in the MVC in ERA last season. The Redbirds could go into next season with an extremely experienced rotation of fifth-year senior lefthander Jared Hart, who led the team in 2022 with a 2.45 ERA in 55 innings, fifth-year senior righthander Derek Salata, who had a 4.14 ERA in 65.2 innings, and fifth-year junior lefthander Sean Sinisko, a strike-thrower who has started 13 games in each of the last two seasons. Also back in the mix is fourth-year junior righthander Erik Kubiatowicz, a workhorse reliever who led the team in appearances last season with 24. 

• One breakout pitcher to watch is fourth-year junior righthander Elijah Dale, a transfer from Kansas State who Illinois State heavily recruited out of high school primarily as an infielder. He struggled in small samples at K-State, giving up 18 runs in 7.1 innings across two seasons with the Wildcats, but it’s no surprise given his prep pedigree as a position player that he’s a good athlete on the mound, and he has good stuff, including a fastball in the low 90s. The coaching staff hopes he can be a weapon at the back end of the bullpen next season. 

• Run prevention in general should be a strength for Illinois State in 2023, as it also projects to be a very good defensive team, even after the departure of second-round pick Ryan Cermak, who was a plus defender in center field. The top defender on the squad now is junior shortstop Luke Cheng, who fielded the position at a .970 clip last season. He’ll be joined in the middle infield by freshman Shai Robinson, arguably the most exciting player in Illinois State’s incoming recruiting class. Replacing Cermak in center field is sophomore JT Sokolove, who was a regular in left field last season. It’s a high bar to clear to be as good as Cermak defensively, but at the very least, Sokolove is as good a runner as Cermak, as he runs a 6.4 second sixty-yard dash and could be someone who also steals 20 or more bases next season. 

• As Illinois State looks to replace some departed offensive production, including its top three home run hitters in Cermak (19 HR), Jake McCaw (12) and Nick Gile (9), fourth-year junior infielder Greg Nichols, the brother of Arizona righthander TJ Nichols, stands out as a particularly important piece of the puzzle. He batted .241/.295/.324 last season, but he’s a consensus choice among both Illinois State coaches and players as the potential next lineup centerpiece. 

• Two transfers are likely to hold important roles in the lineup as well. One is fourth-year junior infielder Shaydon Kubo from Northern Colorado. He had a big year last season for the Bears, batting .318/.371/.512 with 13 doubles and eight home runs. The other is fifth-year senior catcher Dylan Swarmer, who batted .284/.385/.414 at Youngstown State a season ago. He stands to be a solid contributor at Illinois State in any context, but even more so when you consider that the Redbirds’ catchers collectively batted under .200 last season. 

— Joe Healy

High Point-Queens

High Point last season led the Big South in ERA in conference games at 4.94, edging out Campbell, and much of its top-line pitching is back this season. That group is led by junior lefthander Sam Garcia (5-4, 1.94 in 2022) and fourth-year junior righthander Carter Sheppard (6-5, 4.66), both of whom threw three scoreless innings Sunday against Queens, a program located in Charlotte that is going into its first year in Division I. 

Garcia’s fastball Sunday sat mostly 87-89 mph, touching 90, but it was up to 94 at its peak last season. When he locates his fastball, it can be a weapon, especially given some of the crossfire action he gets on the pitch. He showed that with an impeccably located 89 mph fastball under the hands of Nick Brassington, Queens’ top returning hitter, for a first-inning strikeout. His bigger swing-and-miss weapon Sunday, however, was a mid-70s sweeping slider that was also his best secondary offering a season ago. 

Sheppard has the biggest arm on the High Point staff and he showed it again with his fastball sitting 93-94 mph and touching 95 in his first inning of work before settling into the low 90s over his final two innings. His mid-80s slider and changeup both had whiff rates of 38% or better last season and will be key moving forward to keep hitters from timing up his fastball. 

Also back are sophomore righthander Everett Vaughan (3.60, 50 IP), who led the team with five saves last season using a fastball in the high 80s and low 90s that touched 93, and junior Teddy Merritt (3-6, 6.39), a 6-foot-6 righthander whose ERA was a much more palatable 4.06 in conference play last season. 

Improving the depth of the pitching staff was a priority for the High Point coaching staff — note that the 4.94 Big South ERA balloons to 6.37 overall, suggesting that covering innings in midweek games was a concern — and they seem to have done so, most notably with a couple of transfers from the junior college ranks. 

One is Brett Wozniak, who arrived from Golden West (Calif.) College but began his career at Kansas State. The 6-foot, 215-pound lefthander had a 4.08 ERA and 91 strikeouts compared to 20 walks last season. The other is righthander Gus Hughes, who appears to have the stuff to be an immediate star for the Panthers. A transfer from Gaston (NC) College who began his career at Charlotte, Hughes had the most impressive outing of any pitcher on Sunday, carving up the Queens hitters over three scoreless frames with a well-spotted fastball from 89-91 mph and a hammer curveball in the high 70s with spin rates in excess of 2,800 rpm. Last season at Gaston, he had a 2.17 ERA with 92 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 62.1 innings of work. 

On the position player side, High Point’s goal for next season is to be more athletic, and the additions of third-year sophomore second baseman/outfielder Brett Ahalt, who batted .329 with 15 stolen bases last season at George Mason, and junior college transfer outfielder Xavier Cumbee, who batted .425 with 28 stolen bases last season, can only help. Along with fifth-year senior outfielder Javon Fields, who batted .316/.406/.418 last season with a team-leading 11 stolen bases, those three stand out as potential catalysts. 

Junior Peyton Carr, who was in the DH spot Sunday, led the team in batting last season at .327 and had the most impressive single swing of any batter against Queens, as he launched a home run over the batter’s eye in center field. The biggest day at the plate, however, belonged to fourth-year junior catcher Blake Sutton, who hit two home runs, including a grand slam. Last season, Sutton batted .250/.380/.411 with five home runs. Fourth-year junior shortstop Adam Stuart is also back in the mix at High Point and that’s extremely good news for the team defensively, as he fielded the position at a .973 clip last season. 

The jump from Division II to Division I can be steep, especially in a good league like the ASUN, but it will help Queens that its returns three of its top four hitters in fifth-year senior outfielder Nick Brassington (.370/.425/.664, 16 HR), fifth-year junior utility man Riley Cheek (.330/.435/.565), who made the defensive play of the day Sunday with a dive on a sprint from his position at second base to the right field foul line to catch a pop up, and fifth-year junior infielder Nick Melton (.315/.370/.478). Also back is sixth-year senior catcher Christian Maggio, who was limited to 20 games last season, none after March 15, but batted .361/.473/.443 in that time. 

On the mound, the Royals will greatly miss righthander Tanner Jacobson, a 10th-round pick of the Cardinals over the summer, plus innings leader Nick Charleson, who exhausted his eligibility. To begin filling in those holes, Queens will first have to look for some returners to take steps forward. That group likely includes fourth-year sophomore righthander Jeffery Maidhof (2-1, 5.45 in 2022), who worked with a fastball at 88-89 mph and a high-70s slider Sunday, fifth-year junior Daniel Bagwell (4-3, 4.20), a big-bodied righthander who showed a fastball from 86-88 mph, a high-70s slider and a low-80s changeup, fifth-year junior righthander Zach Kelly (1-3, 4.10), who primarily used his fastball from 87-89 mph, and fifth-year junior righthander Justin Offschanka (3-0, 5.19). 

Newcomers who could help bolster the pitching staff include righthander Joey Rodriguez, a fourth-year junior Old Dominion transfer who works with a high-80s fastball from a low slot, and a pair of 6-foot-4 freshman lefthanders in Joey Ruller and Evan Vandenbosch, both of whom looked the part Sunday. Ruller pitched a 1-2-3 inning against High Point leaning on a fastball from 85-87 mph and a mid-70s slider. That’s not high-octane stuff, necessarily, but his stuff appears to play up some thanks in part to deception he gets from turning his back toward the hitter in his delivery before releasing the pitch. Vandenbosch worked with a fastball from 87-89 mph and a high-70s slider. 

— Joe Healy

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Division I
Baseball Championship
June 16 - 26, 2023
Charles Schwab Field Omaha | Omaha, NE

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