Great baseball teams, when analyzed by reporters and talking heads, should be no larger than the whole. Each player should have a defined role, embrace it and excel at it.
There are your table setters at the top of the order, your run producers in the middle of the order and quality doubles and singles hitters at the bottom of the order. This just describes the offensive part of the team. Great teams also have an ace at the top of the rotation and quality pitchers to fill in behind him. In the bullpen, you should have a dominant pitcher to close out games.
Even in the professional ranks, it’s hard to have it all. But in the collegiate ranks, it might be nearly impossible. Until now.
From what I’ve seen this year watching our team play, the 2008 UT baseball team might just have it all. Paul Cruz and Jesus Barroso are great top of the line-up guys that get on base at a high rate (.565 and .375 respectively).
Nolan Brannon and Jose Jimenez will undoubtedly provide the power. Brannon is off to a scorching start batting .579 with two home runs and 10 RBI in six games.
Jimenez tied for the team lead in home runs last year with 14 as only a sophomore, and this year the sky is the limit.
He’s already hitting .421 with one towering, and I mean towering home run, that if not for the screen in right field, somebody on the sixth floor Stadium Center would’ve had a nice baseball size hole in their window and some explaining to do to their RA.
Stephen Merino, Garret Maines, Ryan Williams, Junior Mejia and Steven Broschofsky can each get the much-needed hit to drive in a run in their spots at the bottom of the order.
The pitching staff this year looks strong as ever with reigning Sunshine State Conference pitcher of the year Kevin Ferguson anchoring it. Anthony Perez looks to be the closer for this season and in the two appearances I’ve seen him this season he looks nothing short of great. He’s got a live fastball and a great slider to go along with it to keep hitters off balance.
And if you think that that number one to the left of their team name is going to give this team a false sense of confidence, you will be sadly mistaken.
Ferguson, who has been a vital part of the back-to-back championship teams of the previous two years, knows that all that matters is where you are at the end of the season.
“It sounds kind of clich’eacute;d but we do take this thing one game at a time,” Ferguson said after last Friday’s win over Palm Beach Atlantic. “We don’t underestimate any team we play. We’re far from where will be at the end of the year and that’s when the ranking matters.”
With an attitude and a fastball to match, a third championship might just be in this teams future.