January 25, 2000
2000 SEASON OUTLOOK
Winning games will come the old fashion way for the 2000 Hoosiers.
Speed, defense and strong pitching will help Indiana manufacture
runs, while holding the opposition in check.
"We have always been an aggressive team on the base paths
and I think that we will be even more aggressive this season,"
head coach Bob Morgan said. "We have a lot of good athletes
on this team and now it is our job to make them good baseball
"Our pitching and defense will be two strengths of this
team and I think that our hitting will develop throughout the
season. We have a lot of solid players on paper and now they
just need to prove themselves on the field."
The Hoosiers return four of their top five hitters, two front-line
starters, and one of the Big Ten's top relief pitchers. A total
of 18 letterwinners are back for the 2000 season and a senior
class of eight players, including four pitchers, will provide
leadership for the Hoosiers.
Indiana will need to find a way to replace the power provided
by Doug Devore who left following his junior season, after being
drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Hoosiers will also need
to find starting pitchers to make up for the loss of Jason Torres
and Chad Smith, two of the team's top strikeout men.
"We will not have as much power as we have had in the past.
We will need some players to hit more for average this season,"
Morgan said. "We are also going to need some young players
to step up right away."
A total of 15 true, or redshirt freshmen, will join the roster
this season as Indiana will look to move back into the top four
in the Big Ten after back-to-back fifth place finishes. The last
two years the Hoosiers have had the opportunity to advance to
the four-team Big Ten Tournament in the last weekend of the season,
but fell just short.
Morgan, now in his 17th season, will look to improve upon a season
that saw the Hoosiers win 37 games, the most by an Indiana team
since 1996. In addition, the Hoosiers will look for their 18th
straight winning season.
"This team has an excellent work ethic and the players feel
good about themselves and that they can be a solid ball club
this year. We need to work hard during the non conference season
to get ready for those Big Ten wars," Morgan said.
The war will be a little tougher this season, at least on paper,
as the Hoosiers play 16 of their 28 league games on the road,
including trips to Ohio State, Minnesota, Penn State and in-state
"We will not have the advantage of the friendly confides
of Sembower Field like we have had in the past so we will need
to be road warriors this season," Morgan said.
Junior Zach McClellan and sophomore Brad Edwards give Indiana
two of the top young guns in the Big Ten. That duo, combined
with one of the conference's top closers, gives the Hoosiers
a solid foundation on the mound.
McClellan had a breakout season last year as he posted a 7-1
record, the eighth most wins in the Big Ten. He had 18 appearances
and seven starts and enters the season with a career mark of
10-1. Last year he worked 48.1 innings and struck out 26 and
started four games in Big Ten play.
"McClellan has great velocity on his pitches. Last year
he proved that he could pitch with anyone in the country and
keep us in any game. He has the opportunity to put up some great
numbers this season," Morgan said.
Edwards had a solid freshman campaign last season as he fanned
69 batters, the most among any returning pitchers, in 55.2 innings.
The left-hander made 11 starts last year, the most among returning
Hoosiers, and posted a 4-2 record. Edwards averaged 11.16 strikeouts
per game, the most among any hurler in the Big Ten and made six
starts in conference play.
"He should continue to improve, in this his sophomore season.
He increased his fast ball by four-to-five miles per hour in
the off season. Both he and McClellan give us two solid Big Ten
pitchers," Morgan said.
Last season the Indiana pitching staff was as solid as any in
the conference. The Hoosiers led the league in overall ERA (4.86)
and strikeouts (456) while the opposition hit a league-low .268
The third spot in the rotation will be held down by junior David
Ferris. Ferris has appeared in 28 games and made 11 starts in
his career, with nine of them coming last season. He posted a
3-2 record and fanned 54 batters in 55.1 innings in 1999. His
five Big Ten starts was second among returning pitchers.
"Ferris is a solid number three starter and he gives us
depth in the rotation," Morgan said.
Depth is a key to the entire Indiana staff. Morgan will look
to any one of four players to fill the final spot in the rotation.
Senior Fred Graf and junior Nick Otte bring some experience to
the table. Graf worked in eight Big Ten games last year and all
19 of his appearances on the season were in a relief role. He
has started just once in 42 career games.
Otte pitched in 17 games last year and made three starts. He
led the staff with eight wins (8-1) and ranked sixth in the Big
Ten. He owned a 4.26 ERA and fanned 43 batters while walking
just 14 in 38 innings of work.
Senior Tom Willerer or freshman Nick Vitielliss will also receive
an opportunity to fill the final spot in the rotation. Willerer
worked 18 innings in 14 games last season and owned a 4.00 ERA.
The four-man Big Ten rotation should feature two right-handers
and two left-handers for the Hoosiers. Any of the pitchers that
do not make the rotation in the fourth spot will build the foundation
of a strong bullpen in 2000.
Senior Chris Wilson anchors that bullpen after coming off an
Indiana-record eight-save season last year. Wilson appeared in
a team-high 24 games and posted a 4-2 record in 39.1 innings
of work. He struck out 47 batters while walking just 16. Wilson
can also play in the field at first base if need be, though Morgan
is counting on him to close the door on the opposition.
"Chris is a real leader. Having him sitting in the bullpen
waiting is a real asset for us. His role is to come into the
game when the game is on line and he relishes that role,"
Before Wilson gets into the game the Hoosiers will look to a
number of different pitchers for middle relief.
Transfer Quinn Moore, senior Brad Personett, sophomores Matt
Rice and Mark Elder and freshmen Carrington Fisk, Matt Mondok
and Ryan Smith will give the Hoosiers a deep bullpen.
Catching will be one of the biggest questions as the Hoosiers
enter the season. Brandt Childs who started 43 games last year
graduated. Morgan will look to a junior, a sophomore and two
freshmen who have a combined 11 career starts and 64 at bats.
Junior Rob Stastny played in 26 games last year and made seven
starts with 39 plate appearances. He is a solid athlete with
some offensive punch in his bat.
"He could be a real asset for us offensively. We need to
work with him on his defense. If he can develop his throwing
arm he could be a solid receiver for us," Morgan said.
Sophomore Eric Farley played in 21 games last year and in his
16 at bats collected five hits. He, along with a pair of newcomers
in Kyle Davis and Kevin O'Brien, give the Hoosiers defensive
options behind the plate as all three possess strong arms.
"We will need to solidify this position before the Big Ten
season. Early on in the season I think that it will be catching
by committee," Morgan said.
First base will be similar to the catching situation as Morgan
will look at a number of different players during the non conference
season. A redshirt freshman and a pair of sophomores will each
get a chance to earn the job.
Sophomore Michael Woodside played in five games last season and
had four at bats. His classmate Gibran Hamdan is in a similar
situation as he appeared in six games a season ago and had seven
Redshirt freshman Joe Sadler will also see time at first.
"Sadler has some pop offensively, he needs to work on his
defense while Hamdan brings a lot of defense to the table. Woodside
provides help both offensively and defensively," Morgan
Sophomore Mark Minor saw a lot of action at first base in his
46 games last season, but Morgan would like to more of himat
shortstop or third base this year.
There are no question marks at second base. Senior Benji Clause
played in 40 games last season and has 125 career games under
his belt. He hit a career-high .308 last year, scored 41 runs
and stole 15 bases. He has swiped 35 bases in his career. But,
it is his improved defense that should be a key this season.
"Benji has worked on, and improved his defense and throwing
in the off season. He is a hard worker and brings his lunch pail
to practice every day. He is one of those guys that needs to
be more consistent at the plate. We are counting on him this
season," Morgan said.
Sophomore Eric Blakeley is one the Hoosiers' top athletes according
to Morgan and should be one of the anchors defensively up the
middle at shortstop. Kevin Mahar will be a contender for some
relief at second base.
"He has improved his throwing and he can run and has some
pop in his bat. He will need to work on his consistency at the
plate," Morgan said.
Blakeley played in 23 games last season and collected a .314
batting average. He can also play second base, backing up Clause.
Freshman John Bestler showed strong defensive skills in the fall
and should give the Hoosiers depth at shortstop.
Junior Dan Haegele will be given the first opportunity to win
the third base job. The team's top hitter from a season ago spent
much of the year as the Hoosier's designated hitter. He put up
solid numbers in 1999 to earn All-Big Ten third team honors as
he hit .370 while playing in, and starting all but one game.
He collected 39 RBI with 10 doubles and three homeruns and led
the team in runs scored with 59. He will be one of the key run
manufacturers as he led the team with 29 stolen bases last year.
"Dan is the toughest out in our lineup. He is this team's
best overall hitter and one of the top players in the conference,"
Morgan said. "He had a solid season last year and we will
look for the same from him this year."
Minor can also fill the role of the team's third baseman. He
hit .263 last season with three homeruns and 22 RBI. Freshman
Vasilli Spanos had a solid fall season and according to Morgan,
with continued improvement, should see some playing time this
year. Sophomore Nick Evans, a good hitter, could also see time
at third base or as a designated hitter.
A threesome of veterans make up the Hoosier outfield, an outfield
that is rich in defense and deep in experience. The trio of senior
Jason Williams, junior Blake St. Clair and sophomore Tim McNab
combined to play in 130 games, drive in 86 runs and hit 15 home
runs last year.
McNab will patrol center field for the Hoosiers. Last season
he hit .358 in 35 games and hit four home runs and drove in 15.
"Tim has a great arm and he covers a lot of ground,"
Williams, a former transfer from Indiana State, hit .335 last
season and drove in 31 runs in 51 games. He has plated 67 runs
in his two seasons with the Hoosiers.
"Jason had an outstanding season last year in center field
but we feel that he will better in left field," Morgan said.
"We will look for him to continue to improve offensively
and be a solid Division I hitter."
St. Clair was fourth on the team with eight home runs and ranked
second with 40 RBI. He hit .346 and was a perfect 14-of-14 in
"Blake seems to be a better fit in right field. He has gotten
bigger and stronger in the off season and is becoming more aggressive
both offensively and defensively. He is really coming into his
own and turning into an excellent player in the Big Ten,"
Morgan will also try to find playing time for senior Rich Berich,
a player he feels is one of the Hoosier's stronger hitters. Along
with Berich, classmate Kory Sietz, sophomore Vince Volpe, and
freshman Carlton Bragg add depth to a strong outfield.
© Indiana University Athletics, 1999
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