State Baseball: The Sophomores

Ah, sophomore year. No longer the fresh meat and not having to worry about real life for one more year. We have some awesome pieces in this group including Wilson and Debo who we hope can push this team back toward Omaha before departing us after next year. So lead off there...

Again these will be taken by jersey number (information derived from Perfect Game, unless otherwise noted).

8 - Will Wilson, SS, Bats right, Throws right, Kings Mountain, NC

Our savior to many degrees last year come out of high school ranked the 249th best player in the country and 45th best shortstop. In North Carolina, he was 11th overall and the 2nd best shortstop. One of the gems of the 2016 class who paid dividends immediately.

Likelihood to play: High; this is a no brainer. Kid took 2nd base from Pitarra last year because of his bat but has entrenched himself in the middle of the infield and I expect will transfer to SS this year. I could throw stats regarding Wilson around all day, but he was arguably the 2nd best 2B in the league last year and got plenty of accolades. I wish he had taken SS from Dunand last year. He had some head scratching errors, but he is a baseball player through and through.

11 - Lawson McArthur, RF, Bats left, Throws right, Charlotte, NC

Lawson came to State after being ranked the 302nd best player in the 2016 class and the 49th best OF. He was ranked two spots behind Wilson at 13th overall in NC and was the 3rd best OF.

Likelihood to play: Medium; Lawson will play, he just is not starting and he may have more competition this year for the fill-in/defensive roles. Lawson is a good player who struggled at the plate last year, but that is also because of his lack of opportunity. I was kind of surprised he did not get more opportunities to try and wrestle a starting spot from Deatherage. He is superior defensively to both of our corner OFs.

12 - Brad Debo, DH, Bats left, Throws right, Durham, NC

Probably the highest ranked everyday player we had as a freshman. Debo was placed 179th overall and the nation's 25th best C, while in NC he was 5th overall and the best catcher. We were very happy to get this kid to campus and he did not disappoint.

Likelihood to play: High; another that is a definite. Debo can stroke it as well as anyone on our team and at times seemed like eternal offense last year. As a freshman, he lead the team in average and the only question was, why he did not start the first game in Hawai'i. The question for Debo this year is position. If he has progressed significantly as a catcher, he could end up starting there, there is also the small, outside opportunity he takes 1B, but he will have a home at DH if nowhere else.

17 - Dillon Cooper, SS, Bats right, Throws right, Raleigh, NC

Dillon was a low-profile recruit that was intended to be more of project as he came through the ranks. He red-shirted his freshman year after being ranked 50th overall and and the 8th best SS in NC.

Likelihood to play: Medium; unfortunately, the numbers may be stacked against Dillon. He has a shot at 3B, but it'll be tough to break through the freshmen rush to the hot corner. Dillon was not terrible at the plate, but did not have many opportunities, either. He struck out a third of his at bats and did not walk once. He and Oakley are probably the only two chances to upend a freshman takeover at 3B.

19 - Dalton Feeney, RHP, Bismarck, ND

The top prize in our 2016 recruiting class. Feeney was a top-100 recruit and ranked the 33rd best RHP. He spurned the pros to come to campus. I would only put Debo above him in rankings because a pitcher gets limited opportunities to affect games.

Likelihood to play: Low; the sad story of the 2018 season so far. Tommy John surgery should sideline him until 2019 and then you hope he returns with his potential. Feeney pitched well in his 20+ innings last year and probably would have challenged Bielien or possibly even Brown for weekend spots this Spring. Alas. Expect a red-shirt season to recuperate.

26 - Michael Bielien, RHP, Chesapeake, VA

Another top 250 recruit and the 66th best RHP prospect in the country. He was a top 10 recruit out of Virginia and the 4th best RHP in the state. He too spurned a major league career to come to State.

Likelihood to play: High; there is no reason yet why he should not have an opening weekend start under his belt next weekend. His freshman year was filled with growing pains (14 HBP in nearly 60 innings) but he also showed promise and finished the season with a 3-3 record in 10 starts. Control must improve but this kid has some really good talent. His fastball was in the low 90s last year and hopefully can progress a little to get closer to 95.

30 - Mathieu Gauthier, RHP, Candiac, Quebec

Canada producing some talent. Gauthier was the 175th best RHP out of high school in 2016 and was the 9th overall recruit to come out of maple syrup reserve heaven. Hey, did you know that Perfect Game's website places Canadian and Puerto Rican recruits on one "team?" Huh, who would of known.

Likelihood to play: High; maybe the biggest wild card to our rotation and bullpen this year. Gauthier flashed dominance at points and then just seemed to fade away. He had a better than 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio and did not hit a batter, but also allowed opposing teams to hit for nearly a .300 average. His control is fine, he needs to work on developing a second pitch. His fastball was not overwhelming and his off speed was not fooling anyone after a while. You want to see if Foxhall can develop pitching, here is your guy.

32 - Steven Oakley, 3B, Bats right, Throws right, Durham, NC

The last of our red-shirt sophomores, Oakley was a top-500 recruit out of high school and the 22nd best 3B in the nation. In NC, he garnered the 15th overall ranking and was acclaimed the best of the 3B.

Likelihood to play: Medium; competition from upper classmen for the hot corner is slim. He got very limited chances last year (3 games) and only had 4 at bats. While he was hitless in those at bats and struck out once, it is difficult to judge a player based on such a small sample size. If he gets the nod to start, I will feel confident in his ability. If he does not, then we better have a pretty good replacement or things could get scary down the LF line.

44 - Kent Klyman, LHP, Williamsburg, VA

The only LHP we brought in through freshmen in 2016 and a tall one at that. Klyman is 6'7" and generally had a fastball that topped in the high 80s. Perfect Game dropped Klyman for some reason, so Prep Baseball Report was used for what information I could get.

Likelihood to play: High; could Klyman be the second biggest wild card in this group. In a very small sample size, Klyman was outstanding, posting an 2.20 ERA and he did not give up a HR while allowing opposing batters to only collect a .170 average. He did put as many on base (10 walks, 2 HBP) as he did strikeout (12), but I will chalk that up to limited action and freshmen jitters. He will need to be a larger force in our bullpen to start the season, but may get a chance for spot starts depending on development. Hey, Foxhall, this is "Needs to Develop" #2.


Highs - 5 Mediums - 3 Lows - 1

Given that "Lows" is due to injury, this is not a bad division of our roster. You have some studs in Wilson and Debo and some up and comers in the pitchers. While Wilson and Debo do not need to take a step forward, necessarily, you would like them to, and the pitchers absolutely have to if we want a successful season. Gauthier, Bienlien and Klyman need to eat up many more innings to start to take over for next year. The other big question is 3B and best guess (maybe only guess) it will be a red-shirt sophomore or younger at the position.