Let’s take a look at the 2019 NC State Baseball team and begin to get a feel for the squad that will kick off their season at home against Bucknell on Friday, February 15, at 3:00pm.
In Part I of this series, we took a look back at the 2018 season and the players who are no longer with the program.
In Part II, we took a look at who all is back from that 2018 team.
Part III will look at the fresh new faces of the 2019 squad.
Part IV will take a look at the schedule and the opponents on deck for the Wolfpack this season.
And if I can get the band back together, maybe we’ll do a nice little BTP roundtable. I don’t know! I don’t know if we’ll have enough time!
On to Part III...
The Wolfpack welcome 15 new faces to the team in 2019, including seven transfers (either JUCO or direct). This isn’t a power-in-numbers group, either. There will be a lot of key contributors in this group.
- Alec Barger (RHP, RP - Jr)
- Andrew Blake (RHP, SP/RP - Jr)
- Jonny Butler (OF - So)
- Marek Chlup (OF - Fr)
- Hunter Christopher (RHP - Fr)
- John Creel (RHP, RP - Jr)
- Joe Ingle (RHP, RP - Sr)
- Tyler McDonough (INF - Fr)
- Vojtech Mensik (INF - Fr)
- Baker Nelson (RHP - Fr)
- Jason Parker (RHP, SP/RP - Jr)
- Canaan Silver (LHP - So)
- Andrew Tillery (RHP - Fr)
- Thayer Thomas (OF - R-Fr)
- Luca Tresh (C/OF - Fr)
- Logan Whitaker (RHP - Fr)
- Clint Chrysler (Pitching Coach)
You don’t bring in transfers with the intent of them sitting on the bench, so let’s take a look at those guys first.
Joe Ingle was an All-American closer at East Carolina, recording a combined 20 Saves over his freshman and sophomore years, before having a falling out with the ECU coaching staff and leaving/being dismissed from the team midway through his junior season. Ingle’s addition to a bullpen that already includes Kent Klyman, Nolan Clenney, and Nick Swiney gives the Wolfpack what should be one of the most formidable relief units in the ACC, if not all of college baseball.
Alec Barger originally started his career at Northern Illinois before heading to Polk State JUCO, and apparently being part of a trade between Polk State and NC State, being shipped to the Wolfpack in exchange for Brady Gulakowski. A very athletic kid, Barger is still learning how to pitch, but he has a lot of arm talent and potential (the Brewers took him in the 16th round of last year’s MLB Draft). He should contend for a starting gig of some variety.
Andrew Blake, too, should be a contender for a weekend starting rotation gig from the outset. The 6’5 righty was impressive as a starting pitcher in the JUCO ranks. He also has the stuff that could play up well in a bullpen role.
Jonny Butler, a JUCO transfer with three years of eligibility remaining, provides a blend of power and speed to what is a relatively thin outfield group. He’s probably the best all-around outfielder on this year’s team and should slot immediately into a starting gig while providing a bat that can fit in anywhere in the lineup.
John Creel comes to Raleigh from Ole Miss by way of Wake Tech CC. He’s a big righty who can pump some serious heat (97+ mph), but also struggles with control. Should he be able to reign in that power stuff under new Pitching Coach Clint Chrysler, he could earn some big innings out of the bullpen.
It’s unclear at this point what should be expected of Jason Parker. He began his career at Louisburg JUCO as a reliever before transitioning to a starter. As a full-time starter a year ago, he averaged 11.17 K/9, quite an impressive number. Parker should earn plenty of innings this year, but from what role those innings come is uncertain.
Canaan Silver, like Butler, is a JUCO who will have four years to play three at State. He was a much accomplished prep player from the western part of the state and should provide bullpen depth immediately, with the potential to develop into a rotation-level starting pitcher as his career continues.
So from the transfer ranks, that’s: an All-American caliber relief pitcher, three pitchers who should contend for starting roles, two bullpen pitchers including a flamethrower, and a starting OF. Not bad.
Now onto the incoming freshman...
Marek Chlup is a bit of a wildcard here. The freshman OF from the Czech Republic has raw power and a lot of experience competing internationally, but how that power and his overall game translates to the ACC is yet to be seen. The Wolfpack did get an up close look at both he and fellow Czech National Team alum Vojtech Mensik in an exhibition matchup prior to the 2018 season. Given the light number of outfielders on the roster, Chlup could compete for a starting corner OF job immediately.
Mensik is another wildcard as we wait to see how he adjusts to the collegiate game. Like Chlup, he’s a bit of an unknown, but obviously the State staff sees potential in his game to develop, and he could be a surprise starter at 3B as that position appears to be wide open.
Hunter Christopher, an accomplished right-hander from the powerhouse JH Rose program in Greenville, was also a pretty dang good prep shortstop (hello, 2019 Tommy DeJuneas Award candidate!), so it was interesting to see him listed solely as a pitcher. It would be surprising to not see Christopher providing quality depth to the bullpen as a freshman.
Tyler McDonough hails from the same Moeller HS program in Ohio that produced former Pack baseball standouts and future MLB pitchers Andrew Brackman and Erik Surkamp. McDonough is a switch-hitting middle infielder who was a high school All-American at catcher, although that won’t be his role with the Wolfpack. With the uncertainty at 2B and 3B, he certainly has an opportunity to earn a starting job out of the gate.
Baker Nelson is a high-80’s/low-90’s righty with a future as a starter, but will likely compete for innings out of the bullpen as a freshman.
Andrew Tillery is a righty with a solid frame and loads of potential. He’s likely a bullpen piece as a freshman.
Luca Tresh is State’s highest rated incoming freshman. On a team without a guy like Patrick Bailey, Tresh would step in as the starting catcher right away. As is, he’ll compete for a starting corner OF job and will likely serve as Bailey’s backup behind the dish as a freshman. Again, NC State and talented catchers. Goes hand-in-hand.
Logan Whitaker is a long, lean righty who should blossom at State with time in the weight room. He should compete for innings immediately and projects as a potential starter in the future.
Given the overall pitching depth on this team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see two or three of the freshman arms redshirt in 2019. The position players include a pair of future studs and two international wildcards. When all is said and done, this class could be something truly special.
UPDATE (Jan 28, 2019)
Thayer Thomas (yes, that Thayer Thomas) has been added to the roster.