Well Red Raider Nation, it is that time of year again.
It’s time to look at the upcoming roster and outlook for your 2022 Texas Tech Baseball team.
Last year ended in the Lubbock Super Regional against a white-hot Stanford team that swept Tech in two games. Nothing went right for the Red Raiders in that series and it seemed that everything went Stanford’s way all while Tech was running out of gas.
That was last season, and since then Tech had nine players leave for the MLB and a few players transfer from the program. Overall, a core nucleus of players that you will recognize remain on this roster. Jace Jung, Brandon Birdsell, and Cole Stilwell remain and are just a few that are household names. However, there is a good group of new players on this roster that we will all need to become familiar with, as a couple of them have the potential to come in and make an immediate impact for this ball club.
The following players were drafted and chose to pursue their dreams of playing professional baseball and we wish them nothing but the best:
Cal Conley, Dru Baker, Braxton Fulford, Mason Montgomery, Ryan Sublette, Hunter Dobbins, Patrick Monteverde, Dylan Neuse, and Jacob Brutoski.
I believe this off-season was the most active Tim Tadlock has been in the transfer portal, as he prefers to recruit out of high school and build players over a period of time. There are a whopping 10 new players that have transferred in from the portal, and a few of them have a great opportunity ahead of them.
- Zac Vooletich- Jr.-Navarro College-INF/OF
- Ty Coleman- Jr.- Texas A&M-INF/OF
- Cooper Swanson- Sr.- Florida State-INF/OF
- Dalton Porter- So.- Texas-OF
- Bo Blessie- Jr.- Nebraska/Midland College-RHP
- Andrew Morris- Jr.- Colorado Mesa-RHP
- Garrett Crowley- Jr.- Fordham-LHP
- Shay Hartis- So.- Grayson College-RHP
- Jase Lopez- So.- Weatherford JC-RHP
- Colin Clark- Sr.- Youngstown State-LHP
As you can see, there is a lot of pitching depth that transferred in, as well as some solid position guys in the field.
I think Cooper Swanson could be an underrated piece for this squad, and Coleman and Vooletich will both be in the running for a starting spot on this roster as well.
With all of the talent transferring in, it would be foolish to not look at the true recruits from high school that will be making their names known immediately. But I do need to add a precursor. I do know high school talent doesn’t always transfer to the Power 5 collegiate level, however Tim Tadlock always seems to get guys that are a fit for the program and I won’t start doubting him now.
Hudson White will be a name everyone needs to know, and as of right now, looks to be the opening day starter behind the plate. The true freshman from Byron Nelson in Keller has a strong defensive arsenal behind the plate and his offense is above average as well, keep an eye on him.
Owen Washburn, a true freshman from Webster, Wisconsin is also turning heads as he might be in the running for a few spot-starts early in the season in the corner outfield positions.
As for the guys returning, you can’t talk about Texas Tech without talking about Jace Jung. Jace hit .337 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs last year. Those are absolutely monster numbers and he is poised for another All-American campaign. Cole Stilwell hit .288 with eight homers and 33 RBIs and will be a staple in this lineup. Look for other vets to round out this lineup such as Kurt Wilson, Dillon Carter, Easton Murrell, Cody Masters, and Parker Kelly.
On the mound, Brandon Birdsell will be a weekend starter and I would say most likely your Friday night guy. I mean, why wouldn’t you want your most proven returner throwing on Friday? Especially one that has topped out right at 100 mph during fall practice. The arm health is something to keep your eye on, but after his quick recovery from his injury this past year, he looks poised to be the ace of this staff.
Behind Birdsell, you have Chase Hampton, who actually replaced Birdsell last season after he went down with an arm injury. Chase proved to be the highly sought after prospect he was, going 4-1 W/L with a 3.86 ERA over 44.1 IP last season. As for the third spot in the weekend rotation, you have junior transfer Andrew Morris from Colorado Mesa. Morris had ungodly numbers at Colorado Mesa, and yes these are his actual stats, 18-2 W/L with a 3.23 ERA, 175.2 IP, and 215 Strikeouts, while opponents hit .238 against him. Folks, I don’t care what level you’re doing it at, that is pretty impressive.
As for the bullpen, you will have a lot of the same names from last year, although you have a massive hole after losing Ryan Sublette to the draft.
Brendan Girton will be a bullpen mainstay once again, along with Jamie Hitt, who is finally getting over his back issues that plagued him all of last year. Throw in Austin Becker, Derek Bridges, Bo Blessie, Colin Clark, Andrew Devine, and freshmen Mason Molina and Trendan Parish and this is a very talented staff with a tremendous amount of depth.
Predicting an Opening Day lineup against Michigan is a difficult thing to do, however, I will give it the old college try:
- Dillon Carter-CF
- Kurt Wilson-SS/LF
- Jace Jung-2B
- Cole Stilwell-1B
- Ty Coleman-LF/SS
- Cody Masters-DH
- Easton Murrell-RF
- Hudson White-C
- Parker Kelly-3B
With possibly moving a few guys around in the lineup this seems to be a pretty reliable group of guys, and of course you can sub in a few guys here and there to tweak things depending on who you are facing from the opposing team (whether its a left or right handed pitcher).
Now, in case you missed my preview of the schedule for this season, I will go back over the schedule briefly and give you some important dates to mark on your calendars.
- Opening Weekend at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown (Feb. 18-20) Arlington, TX
- 2022 Home Opener vs. Dallas Baptist (Feb. 22) 2 P.M. Dan Law Field.
- Two game series vs. Reigning National Champs, Mississippi State. (Mar. 8-9) Biloxi, MS.
- Three game conference opener vs. Texas (Mar. 25-27) Dan Law Field.
- Game in Amarillo vs. OU (non-conference) (Apr. 12) 6 P.M. Hodgetown Stadium.
- Three game series vs. TCU (Apr. 14-16) Lupton Stadium, Ft. Worth, TX.
- Final home series vs. OU (May 19-21) Dan Law Field.
- Regionals (Jun. 3-6)
- Super Regionals (Jun. 10-13)
- College World Series (Jun. 17-27)
I would be irresponsible if I left you folks without a couple of interesting tidbits for this season and I nerd out on stuff like this, so I think its really cool.
- Cal Conley who wore number 13 last year was drafted in the fourth round by the Atlanta Braves in this past MLB draft. This year the number 13 is being worn by....his younger brother Trevor who is a true freshman. Really cool stuff.
- Freshman Trendan Parish earned All-State honors in Texas last season for these stats: 88 IP, 0.75 ERA, and 175 Strikeouts. Absurd numbers.
- The tallest Red Raider on the roster this year is once again Brady LeJune-DeAcutis, he stands at six feet six inches.
Bold (some not so bold) Predictions
This season brings a lot of new faces to the program, but I think this team is poised for another deep run in the postseason.
Jace Jung will be an All-American. Book it.
Hudson White will be a key contributor.
Dillon Carter will steal over 20 bases.
Brandon Birdsell will have over 75 strikeouts.
Preseason Offensive POTY: Jace Jung
Preseason Defensive POTY: Parker Kelly
Preseason Pitcher OTY: Brandon Birdsell
Preseason Newcomer of the Year: Andrew Morris
Preseason Freshman OTY: Hudson White
Preseason Season Record Prediction: 42-14.
Does Tech host a Regional?: Yes
Does Tech host a Super Regional?: No
Does Tech make it to Omaha?: Yes
I am pumped for this upcoming season and I know everyone else is as well.
Texas Tech opens the season on February 18th against the Michigan Wolverines at 7:00 P.M. in Arlington, Texas at Globe Life Field.
The season will be here before you know it. Get excited.