The fall 2019 season came to a close yesterday with a intra-squad scrimmage between the Titans but a week prior, the final exhibition of the 2019 fall season came to a close. The Titans returned home to Goodwin Field and welcomed in the UCSD Tritons for a total of 14 innings of play.
Unlike the exhibition out in Las Vegas vs. UNLV, the 14 innings were split up into a nine inning first game and then a 5 inning second game. The Titans “won both games; 3-2 in the nine inning affair and then 5-0 in the second game.
Much like the UNLV exhibition games, we made the trip to Goodwin Field and here are our initial thoughts and takeaways from the two games. Some good, some bad, some ugly. Overall, the Titans looked improved from the UNLV scrimmages and much improved over last year’s team.
- Batting – Where in Las Vegas the bats were rather quiet, Coach Andy Jenkins got to wind his arm a few times and send guys home. In the 14 innings, eight runs scored which is a vast improvement over the previous exhibition.
- Lucky & Good – Kyle Luckham showed again his versatility and talent in the games vs. UCSD. Luckham played DH in the first game and went 2-for-3 at the plate. He also pitched the end of the first game and appears to be cut from the mold of a back end bullpen guy that will DH, much like Nick Ramirez did a few years ago. Not a bad comparison based on the fact Ramirez was one of the most recent Titans brought up to the Majors when he joined the Detroit Tigers last season.
- Youth on Display… again – As it was in Las Vegas, the Titans fielded a young team for the majority of the games with freshman and sophomores getting the lion’s share of the at-bats. Freshmen or sophomores made up 80% of the infield positions with Cameron Repetti at first, JJ Cruz and second and Gavin Kennedy getting the start on the mound. Sophomores Kameron Guangorena got the start behind the plate while Zach Lew got the start at short stop.
- Pitching Improved – Whether it is a year of experience or the coaching of Dan Ricabal, the pitchers look much more comfortable and improved. Although it was an exhibition and Coach Rick Vanderhook was trying to get as many guys work on the mound as possible, numerous pitchers looked good. The three pitchers that combined for the five inning shutout in the second game looked strong with Landon Anderson pitching two scoreless innings and finishing with three strikeouts. Joe Magrisi also got two innings and punched out three en route to shutting out UCSD. Senior Brady Barcellos pitched the final inning to preserve the shut out, retiring the line-up in order.
- JUCO Johnnies – Although the 2019 Titans did not lose a lot of guys due to graduation or the MLB draft, a number of Junior College guys are expected to come in take on an expanded role. Kameron Guangorena will need a break behind the plate and it appears Austin Schell, a transfer from Golden West College will fill the catchers role admirably. Josh Urps, the transfer from Scottsdale Community College could find himself playing a lot in the infield if he can hold off Brett Borgogno at third base, a position Bogo played a ton the past two seasons. Andrew Scheinert, the transfer from Los Angeles Mission College, went 2-for-2 at the plate and recorded two RBI. Scheinert could challenge for a regular spot in a crowded outfield.
- Crowded Outfield – Skipper Rick Vanderhook has 10 outfield players on the roster right now but only three can play there. Returners Jackson Lyon and Jason Brandow, both sophomores, appear to have an inside track to get regular starts in the outfield. That leaves one spot between eight guys and it looks to be a dog fight for that remaining spot. Freshmen Alex Solis and Caden Connor both got a lot of time there along with the aforementioned Andrew Scheinert and red shirt Frosh Trevor Cadd. Senior Jeff Pellegrino got one at-bat vs. UCSD but made it count by smacking a triple and then scoring on a throwing error for an unofficial inside the park home run.
- Alumni Spotted – A number of notable Titan Baseball alumni were spotted at Goodwin during the UCSD game. Pitchers Connor Seabold and Colton Eastman, both playing in the Philadelphia Phillies organization were spotted at Goodwin Field. Jake Pavletich, Chris Prescott, Hank LoForte and Jimmy Endersby were also at the game. LoForte has joined Chad Baum‘s coaching staff at Fullerton College and Prescott is coaching at Orange Coast College. Endersby transferred and will be pitching for Concordia.
- Crowded Outfield – Yes, we said earlier that a crowded outfield was “good” but because of the depth it provides. They say if you have a quarterback controversy you really don’t have a clear cut starting quarterback. Same goes with the outfield. It’s very hard to predict who will be roaming the outfield on a regular basis because no three have really stood out and separated themselves. Brandow still appears to struggle with the breaking ball and is striking out quite a bit in the two exhibition games. Now that Jackson Lyon is back from injury that kept him sidelined almost all of last season, he appears to be the only one in the outfield to have a secure spot.
- No Printed Rosters Available – The Titan Athletic Department promoted the exhibition game online but there were no rosters printed or available. Trying to access the roster from our phones was an effort in futility and many fans were left guessing who was who. Even returning players had changed their numbers from last season and were hard to recognize. Joe Magrisi was No. 25 last season and is now No. 20 with the departure of Jimmy Endersby who wore No. 20 for a few years. With so many number changes and especially new freshmen and JC transfers, having a roster with updated names and numbers would have gone a long way.
- Friday + 5 pm + cold = low turnout – The new coaching staff overall has a number of Titan Baseball fans optimistic that last year’s dismal season was an anomaly. We were not expecting a full house for an exhibition game in November but we were expecting more fans than actually showed up. The fact that the game was on a Friday and at 5 pm probably played a role in the crowd being smaller than expected. Most people could not cut out of work in time to catch first pitch. Also, the temperature in the stadium was cold and the crowd thinned as the first game was not even completed. We understand these exhibition games are not designed for the fans in mind and are more for the coaches to evaluate their team. We get it that is nice they open the gates and let the fans in to take in a game. It would have been nice if it was on a weekend and not started after the sun went down to help generate a little more excitement in the program.
- Isiah Garcia Situation – We all saw Isiah Garcia perform well with a bat in his hand last season but he has been noticeably missing in the UNLV and UCSD exhibition games. Gracia was last year’s RBI (39) and doubles (9) leader, second to only Mitchell Beryhill in batting average (.323) and killed it for the Lincoln Potters during summer ball. So why is he practicing but not playing in these exhibitions? Paperwork and bureaucratic red tape. All we can gather is there is an issue with paperwork regarding Garcia red shirting one of the three years he spent at Sierra College. The 2020 season would be his fifth year in college but without proper paperwork documenting the season he red shirted, he appears to have exhausted his eligibility. Garcia’s hit tool is fantastic and he could slide into the regular DH spot if the paperwork issue with the NCAA is resolved. Otherwise, Garcia could be relegated to a team manager role and will not be able to step into the batters box this season.
- Lights – The lighting at Goodwin Field is really bad. Why else do the light trucks show up whenever the Titans are on TV while playing at home. The TV cameras need more light than what is already available and it was apparent taking photos with my own camera. I turned off the flash so that it would not distract the players and used the “natural” light of the stadium. The improvements are coming to Goodwin Field and unfortunately new, brighter lights, are not part of them. The amount of money the university could save on electricity by installing modern lighting might be worth the investment because those lights probably use a lot of juice.
Stay tuned for future blog posts when we will attempt to predict the regular starting line-up for the position players and also the regular starting rotation for the pitchers. Also, make sure to check out the 1544 Miles to Omaha Podcast for more in depth coverage of Titan Baseball.