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Texas A&M Baseball

7 Days ’til Aggie Baseball: Projecting the lineup entering Opening Day

February 8, 2019
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Every day leading up to the start of the 2019 Aggie Baseball season, the TexAgs baseball coverage team will post a story diving into various storylines surrounding the A&M squad. Be on the lookout for daily articles from Gabe Bock, David Sandhop, Ryan Brauninger and Heath Clary between now and Opening Day, February 15th against Fordham. You can keep up with the full series here: 2019 Aggie Baseball Preview Series.


Man, it’s the best and worst time of the year. I’m so ready to be at Olsen Field and to get the 2019 season underway. We’re only seven days away from getting the season rolling but we still have seven more days and it feels like it’s taking forever to get here. I’m coming to you from the TexAgs Studios and jamming AC/DC at level 10 in anticipation for next Friday night. No DJ in town spins better tracks than the one and only Olsen Field PA announcer Rick Hill.

Later on in this preseason series, we’re going to take a close look at what should be an exceptionally talented and left-hand heavy pitching staff. It’s a group of pitchers that has the chance to take a major step forward in 2019 and is probably THE strength of the team on paper. But I wanted to talk about the A&M lineup today … it’s a group that is also very talented and is as experienced and battle-tested as any offense the Aggies have had since 2016. You can’t overstate how important it is to have veteran players on your roster - guys that have been through the grind of a season or multiple seasons in the SEC and have experienced the highs and lows of figuring out how to be successful as a college player. The lineup is loaded with guys like this.

A quick snippet on each of the returning key contributors from last year’s squad…

Seniors:

Allonte Wingate - INF/OF

• Hit .304 in his first A&M season after transferring in from JUCO. Started 31 games at multiple positions and got on base at a .413 clip. Battling to start at third base but projected to be a key bat off the bench if he gets beat out for a starting spot. Ultra positive leader that defines what it looks like to be a winner … on and off the field of play.

Chandler Morris - INF/OF

• Hit .282 with an .800 OPS in limited action after transferring from the JUCO ranks. Started nine games and once again is expected to be a key bench piece that can play multiple positions on the field. An important clubhouse and dugout leaders that has played a lot of baseball.

Juniors:

Braden Shewmake - SS

• One of the premier shortstops in America. Hit .328 / .374 / .529 with 11 homers and 69 RBI as a freshman in leading the Aggies to Omaha. Numbers dipped slightly as a sophomore (.327 / .395 / .453 … 5 home runs and 45 RBI) as a sophomore but he’s one of the 5-10 best positional prospects in the SEC entering his junior year and is expected to enjoy a huge campaign in his third year in Aggieland. With 519 college at bats in his first two seasons - plus additional ABs as a two-year member of Team USA the last two summers - there’s nothing out there that “Shew” hasn’t seen on a college baseball field. That veteran presence will loom large in the middle of A&M’s lineup.

Logan Foster - OF

• Hit .314 / .404 / .520 with a team-leading 8 homers and 40 RBI as a sophomore after a very up-and-down freshman campaign (.280 / .333 / .489 … 6 HR, 24 RBI) in ’17. Foster is likely to move out of the top-third of the order and into the 5-7 range in the lineup. That should allow him to take pressure off of himself while also providing protection for the middle of the lineup due to his reputation as a guy with tape-measure power and incredible raw ability.

Hunter Coleman - C/1B

• Struggled with the bat throughout most of his sophomore season, hitting a paltry .247 / .357 / .414. The power numbers weren’t incredible but they weren’t bad either (5 HR, 39 RBI). Coleman hasn’t proven consistent enough defensively to catch at this level on a consistent basis so he’ll likely spend most of his time platooning at first base with sweet-swinging Aaron Walters. All eyes are on Coleman … middle-order bat as a freshman for a World Series team that will have to fight for his opportunity to get on the field and stay there as a junior in ’19.

Cam Blake - OF

• Came back from offseason shoulder surgery prior to his sophomore year to hit .259 / .305 / .278 in 23 games and 12 starts last season. The power numbers haven’t been there to this point in his career but Blake has a knack for getting on base and delivering key hits in clutch situations. The expectation is that he’ll start out in left field and hitting in the nine-hole, but he’s certainly a candidate to move up to the top of the lineup if a need arises during the course of the season.

Sophomores:

Zach DeLoach - OF

• Hit .264 / .355 / .374 with 2 HR and 27 RBI as a freshman. His career couldn’t have started any hotter and the lows, at times, couldn’t have gotten any lower. But when you really go back and analyze DeLoach’s first year in college baseball, the numbers are a bit deceiving due to the fact that he was constantly a victim of bad luck. One A&M insider told me that they have never worked with a player who hit into more “loud outs” than DeLoach did in 2018. The hope is that the pendulum should swing back the other way and the luck factor should play closer to even for him in ’19. He’ll likely start the season down in the order and hitting around the six-hole as a sophomore.

Will Frizzell - DH

• Hit .295 / .358 / .460 with a respectable 6 homers and 35 RBI while starting 49 games as a true freshman. He battled injuries throughout the fall and likely will only hit in ’19 … but that’s exactly what he was brought to A&M to do. Frizzell is a pole-to-pole talent with power to all fields and will likely be asked to hit in the four-hole in his second collegiate season.

Aaron Walters - C/1B

• Hit .263 / .349 / .395 while working his way onto the field around the halfway point of the season. The swing is there … it’s as pure and “slump-proof” as it gets at this level. He won’t catch much but has put in a lot of time defensively in becoming a first baseball. A lefty bat, Walters will open the season platooning with right-handed hitting Hunter Coleman. This will likely be the most intriguing position battle to watch early on in ’19.

In addition to the nine key returning players that will make up the bulk of the starting lineup and first-off-the-bench reserves, three significant newcomers are new names to Aggie fans but anything but “rookies” when it comes to college baseball. All three transfer players are expected to make a significant and immediate impact at the plate and on the dirt this season…

Jonathan Ducoff - 3B/1B/OF

• Fifth-year senior and cancer survivor transferred from Houston Baptist after starting his career at Baylor. Hit .271 with 9 home runs and 28 RBI last season at HBU while actively undergoing cancer treatment, and led the Southland Conference in homers in league play with 8. Kingwood High School product will get every chance at landing the every day third base position and could hit in the middle of the lineup - around the five-hole - or provide a supreme combo of speed and power closer to the bottom of the order.

Mikey Hoehner - C

• JUCO transfer and Langham Creek High School product comes to A&M after a spectacular two-year career at Cisco JC. Hit .438 with 6 HR and 54 RBI as a sophomore after a salty freshman season (.360, 5 HR, 38 RBI) in ’17. Came right in with a Michael Barash-like attitude and overwhelming positivity and quickly and decisively grabbed the open catcher spot during the fall season. One insider told me recently that there isn’t a doubt inside the clubhouse as to who the number one catcher and on-field leader is heading into the ’19 season … it’s Hoehner. And that says a lot for a guy who has been on the A&M campus for just one semester. Hoehner, whose three siblings all attended or attend A&M, will start behind the dish nearly every day this season and will likely start out in the two-hole.

Bryce Blaum - 2B

• Transferred from Ole Miss after his freshman season in 2017 and took hold of the second base position and leadoff role during a fantastic fall. A guy that Rob Childress calls, “A giver with level 12 energy every day,” Blaum is expected to fill right in for the departed Michael Helman and make a tremendous impact on and off the field in his first season playing for the Aggies. The Clements High School product played in just 12 games at Ole Miss as a freshman but will step in the box and lead off for the Aggies on Opening Night one week from tonight.

We’ll take a look at additional hitters and potential impact freshmen later on but these 12 guys make up the bulk of experience up and down the A&M lineup in 2019, and that experience factor should loom large as the Aggies jump back into an extremely challenging schedule this season.

Finally, here is my projected lineup on Opening Night:

1. Blaum - 2B (R)
2. Hoehner - C (R)
3. Shewmake - SS (L)
4. Frizzell - DH (L)
5. Walters / H. Coleman - 1B (L/R)
6. DeLoach - CF (L)
7. Foster - RF (R)
8. Ducoff / Wingate - 3B (R/R)
9. Blake - LF (L)

* Against LHP, Ducoff could move up to the five-hole to break up the lefties.

Stay locked to TexAgs.com for another update from TexAgs baseball staff on Saturday as we countdown the days until first pitch of the 2019 season.

Discussion from...

7 Days ’til Aggie Baseball: Projecting the lineup entering Opening Day

dixichkn
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AG
Can't wait! Recruiting is over and basketball is giving me a headache......now time for these young men to step up and shine. Gig'em
C4D
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AG
Thank the Lord. Baseball is back.
Aggieangler93
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AG
C'mon baseball!!!
GIG 'EM - Class of '93
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