Story Poster
Rob Childress
Brigham Hill
Joel Davis
Corbin Martin
Texas A&M Baseball

Baseball Snippets: Texas A&M takes field for first 2017 practice

January 27, 2017

A&M head baseball coach Rob Childress, pitchers Brigham Hill and Corbin Martin and first baseman Joel Davis visited with the media on Friday before preseason practice number one in advance of the 2017 season opener, February 17 at home vs. Bowling Green. Here are a few quick snippets on this year's incarnation of Aggie Baseball...

• A lot of folks expect the Ags to take a step back this season after losing six everyday starters and several key arms ... particularly in the bullpen. There is reason to believe this team can sustain the same level of success that they have enjoyed in recent seasons, but to meet – or exceed – the production and success of the 2016 squad, A&M must fill the gigantic void left behind by the departure of names like Barash, Melton, Boomer, Birk, JB and Banks in the lineup and Simonds, Ecker, Vinson and Hendrix on the mound.

It's a lot to replace in one offseason, but the pitching figures to be strong once again. At the plate, there are actually quite a few experienced bats back as seniors to go along with several extremely talented young guys.

• How many teams can replace six starters on the diamond and replace them with five senior starters? A&M will slide Joel Davis to first base from the outfield. Austin Homan is back as perhaps the leader of the A&M team and will open the season at shortstop.

Kirby Clarke, TexAgs Nick Choruby will start in center for A&M and man the outfield with Blake Kopetsky and Walker Pennington.
I fully expect A&M to roll with an all-senior outfield in 2017 – Walker Pennington in left field, Nick Choruby in center field and Blake Kopetsky in right field.

That’s quite a bit of experience back from a team that lost as much as any team in college baseball from a positional/lineup standpoint.

• The question now is who steps up and takes the place of so much vacated leadership in the clubhouse? Guys like Boomer White, Michael Barash, J.B. Moss, Ryne Birk and Hunter Melton will be nearly impossible to replace in terms of production and leadership, but in college baseball, it’s next man up.

A new group of leaders must emerge – from the senior group or among the crop of talented freshmen – if this team is going to compete at the top of the SEC pecking order.

• My early prediction for clubhouse leader is Austin Homan. The scrappy senior will be challenged from day one by freshman phenom Braden Shewmake for the starting shortstop spot, but nobody is about to tell Homan he’s not good enough to hold onto that spot for 56-plus games, despite committing 17 errors a year ago in 41 starts at short.

Just look at his .356/.392/.431 slash line from 2016 as an example of a young man who has never heard the naysayers claim he’s not an elite player. He thinks he’s the best player on the field every time he takes it, and that attitude and grit is, I think, exactly what this team needs.

• Another big question is who emerges as the starting catcher. There are four or five guys on the roster that can catch, but it’s looking like a Hunter Coleman vs. Cole Bedford battle in February. Odds favor the freshman Coleman – the son of former Mark Johnson hitting coach Dave Coleman – but he’ll have to prove it during preseason and into the start of the ’17 campaign.

Coleman can really hit … but is he ready for this level of baseball from the word go? And is he able to jump right out there, lead the pitching staff, be a trustworthy receiver behind the dish for these arms and control the run game? These concerns can only be answered during games, but Coleman is a very talented kid and a potentially deadly weapon with the bat in his hands.

Abigail Cook, TexAgs Hard-throwing right-hander Brigham Hill passed on the MLB draft to return as the Aggies' ace in 2017.
• On the mound, the role of “ace” is way more important than the role of “closer” in college baseball. The ace of a pitching staff has to take the ball each and every Friday night – or game one of any series – and eat up innings while attempting to out-duel his opponent’s best pitcher.

Fortunately for the Aggies, they have a bonafide, SEC ace in Brigham Hill. The hard-throwing right-hander made the decision to return to school for his third season despite being a draft-eligible sophomore. He told me today that the reason he decided to come back was the bad taste in his mouth after his bad outing against TCU and not getting to Omaha last season … and the way A&M lost in back-to-back seasons just one game from the College World Series.

Hill is the leader of the pitching staff and is coming off of a 9-2 season in 2016, including 99 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA in 97 innings of work.

• As for the closer role, that is a far less defined spot in college than it is in pro ball. Since you don’t play every day in college and you play almost one-third the amount of games as major league teams, the need for a pitcher to come in and solely throw the ninth inning with a lead is not as dire.

In college, you want a “stopper” that you can bring in at any point in the game's final few innings when the situation is most dicey to get you back into the dugout with minimal damage done. That guy can come into game in the sixth or seventh inning and, if you so choose, finish out the game if he’s rolling. Then he can take the next day off and do it again the following day.

Most likely to play that “Mark Ecker” type of role for the 2017 team is Corbin Martin. Coming off of a summer in Cape Cod where he hit 100 MPH on the radar gun on multiple occasions and was named as the No. 2 prospect in the prestigious summer league, Martin enters his junior year as a possible first-round prospect this coming June if – and it’s a big if – he can throw strikes consistently for the Aggies this season.

I personally love Martin coming out of the bullpen because I don’t want him sitting around for a week after a bad start.
I personally love Martin coming out of the bullpen because I don’t want him sitting around for a week after a bad start. I like that guy in a Kyle Thebeau role where he comes to the ball yard every day expecting to pitch but not knowing if he’s actually taking the mound until 15 minutes before he’s in the game. I think this situation will serve Corbin well.

Also, coming on in relief will allow him to run it up there in the high 90s consistently and use max effort out of the pen versus having to pace himself as a starter.

• Finally, here is my projected starting lineup and pitching alignment entering the 2017 season:

  1. Nick Choruby - CF
  2. Austin Homan - SS
  3. Braden Shewmake - 2B
  4. Walker Pennington - LF
  5. Joel Davis - 1B
  6. Logan Foster - DH
  7. Hunter Coleman - C
  8. George Janca - 3B
  9. Blake Kopetsky - RF


  • Friday - Brigham Hill - RHP
  • Saturday - Turner Larkins - RHP
  • Sunday - Mitchell Kilkenny - RHP
  • Tuesday - John Doxakis - LHP


  • Closer - Corbin Martin - RHP
  • Setup - Stephen Kolek - RHP; Cason Sherrod - RHP
  • Top Lefty - Kyle Richardson
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Baseball Snippets: Texas A&M takes field for first 2017 practice

5,467 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 6 yr ago by src94
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I hope shewmake is up to the task of filling boomer or banks' shoes.

Excellent reporting! Can't wait for the season to start!
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Amazing Moves
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Fantastic. Thanks for this.
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Great write up. Really looking forward to the season getting started.
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