Here it is, the start of another season. It seems like just weeks ago, the Red Raiders were in Omaha, making us all proud. This year’s team will look different than last year’s team, with a few star holdovers that weren’t drafted last season. This team looks to have reloaded with a ton of talent from Junior College guys, Division One transfers shoot, there could even be some freshmen on this team that step up and play well immediately.
The Red Raiders will be facing off with the Oregon Ducks out of the PAC 12 to start out this season. The Ducks went 26-29 on the season and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. They were a super young team with tons of freshmen and sophomores playing major roles on this team from pitching to hitting and even some defense. They have a huge number of returners which could give them a slight edge as the Red Raiders are still working out how some of their young guys fit in the lineup.
Offensively for the Ducks, they are led by third baseman Spencer Steer. Steer hit .275 to lead all returners this season. He had 52 hits last season including a team leading 37 RBI, 4 home-runs, and 24 walks. Another good returner for the team is junior first baseman Gabe Matthews. He hit .265 with 52 hits and 27 RBI. Matthews had a team leading 28 base on balls last season.
The jack-of-all-trades player for the Ducks is junior Kenyon Yovan. Yovan started 30 games as a infielder and designated hitter for the team. He hit .233 with 27 hits, 3 home-runs, 12 RBI and 13 walks on the year. Yovan is not only a decent hitter for the team but he is slated to be the ace pitcher for the team this year as well. More about his pitching statistics later.
The Red Raiders’ lineups for opening day haven’t been announced yet. We can however, tell you who will lead this team at the plate. Cameron Warren will anchor the first base position for the Red Raiders this season. He hit .326 with 70 hits, 10 home-runs, 53 RBI, and 34 walks in 2018. He will hit in the middle of the lineup after hitting toward the bottom of the lineup last season. Warren will be relied on more for his power this season, as he is going to have one of the more powerful bats in the lineups coming into the season.
Gabe Holt will be playing for a MLB team in the future. Hands down, his speed, hit batting ability, his ability to play multiple positions are all things that give him the potential for bigger things than college ball. Holt hit .348 in 2018 in the lead-off spot with 6 home-runs, 44 RBI, and 38 walks on the year. We don’t know where Holt will play this season as there will be a ton of turnover on the defensive side of the ball. True freshman Max Marusak will most likely start in the outfield and will bat 1st. Holt will start this season in right field and might play second base or shortstop at some points this season. I honestly see Holt playing in the outfield as there is more talent in the middle of the infield than there is in the outfield.
Josh Jung will be a first round draft pick in this year’s draft. Although this is Jung’s junior season, it will most likely be his last as a Red Raider. He is a consensus preseason All-American, and the man that will carry this team on both sides of the field for the Red Raiders this weekend. Jung hit .392 last season with 103 hits, 12 home-runs, 80 RBI, and 39 walks. Jung will play third base and hit third for the Red Raiders, just like last year.
The Ducks have announced all four starters for this weekend’s four game series, the Red Raiders have announced the starters for every game but Monday’s, but I will give my best educated guess on which guys will start for the Red Raiders on Monday.
Game 1: February 15th, 2 P.M.
Oregon Starter: RHP Kenyon Yoven
W-L Record: 6-4 Appearances - Starts: 21-10
ERA: 2.98 K/BB Ratio: 98/37 Innings Pitched: 84.2
Texas Tech Starter: Caleb Kilian
W-L Record: 9-3 Appearances - Starts: 20-11
ERA: 3.24 K/BB Ratio: 63/28 Innings Pitched: 72.1
Game 2: February 16th, 3 P.M.
Oregon Starter: RHP Ryne Nelson
W-L Record: 3-1 Appearances - Starts: 16-0
ERA: 3.68 K/BB Ratio: 37/14 Innings Pitched: 23.1
Texas Tech Starter: RHP Bryce Bonin
2018 Stats: (Played at Arkansas)
W-L Record: 1-0 Appearances - Starts: 11-1
ERA: 4.26 K/BB Ratio: 16/12 Innings Pitched: 19.0
Game 3: February 18th, 2 P.M.
Oregon Starter: RHP Cullen Kafka
W-L Record: 3-2 Appearances - Starts: 16-6
ERA: 6.98 K/BB Ratio: 37/14 Innings Pitched: 40.0
Texas Tech Starter: LHP Mason Montgomery
2018 Stats: N/A (High School)
Game 4: February 18th, 1 P.M.
Oregon Starter: LHP Cole Stringer
W-L Record: 0-2 Appearances - Starts: 3-3
ERA: 6.23 K/BB Ratio: 6/4 Innings Pitched: 13.0
Projected Texas Tech Starter: RHP Erikson Lanning
W-L Record: 0-0 Appearances - Starts: 2-2
ERA: 6.75 K/BB Ratio: 3/4 Innings Pitched: 5.1
Both of these teams have good starters. The thing that will make the most difference is the bullpen, especially on Sunday and Monday. The Red Raiders have a loaded bullpen, led by two juniors. Caleb Freeman and John “The Whammer” McMillon will both be relied on to close games for the team. There are more players that can close the door for this team, but these two will be the biggest arms to come out of the bullpen.
This weekend’s matchup will be a good one to see where some of our guys play at. It has been confirmed that Freshman Dru Baker will start at shortstop today, which means Brian Klein will most likely play second base. Max Marusak will most likely play center field with his killer speed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays some in left and right field at some point this season. With all of that being said here are my projected starters:
C: Braxton Fulford
1B: Cameron Warren
2B: Brian Klein
SS: Dru Baker
3B: Josh Jung
LF: Cody Masters
CF: Max Marusak
RF: Gabe Holt
Who else is excited for opening day? Let us know in the comment section below!