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FALL PROFILE: Oregon State Beavers
2011 record: 41-19
(NCAA Super Regional)
Final 2011 PG
ranking: No. 10
Top returning players:
Rodriguez, DH Kavin Keyes, 1B Danny Hayes, P Matt Boyd, P Tony Bryant, P Ben
Wetzler, P Scott Schultz
C Andrew Susac, P Sam Gaviglio, P Josh Osich, P James Nygren, 3B Carter Bell,
UTI Parker Berberet, OF Brian Stamps, OF Jared Norris
Areas of concern:
The Beavers must
replace 43 starts on the mound from last season, while the offense must vastly
improve after hitting .267 in 2011.
What we think: Even
with an extremely inconsistent offensive lineup last season, the Beavers still
managed to put together a fantastic spring that ended with a trip to the
Nashville Super Regional. Offensively, it’s safe to say the Beavers should
demand better with the return of Jake Rodriguez, Kavin Keyes and others. On the
mound, replacing starting pitchers Josh Osich and Sam Gaviglio will be
difficult, but Ben Wetzler will be more experienced and the Beavers welcome
several talented newcomers. OSU has a chance to be much better than expected.
What they’re saying:
“I think there’s only about one team in each power conference each season that
says, OK, we have enough talent to win the national title. Everyone else is
kind of like we’re going to be, you know, thinking about how we’re going to get
there with what we have. We’re going to have to find our niche as a club.” – Oregon
State coach Pat Casey
CB TICKET: More Oregon State inside scoop
Oregon State has plenty of areas that must be shored up when
fall workouts officially gear up in a couple of weeks. But the biggest news of
the offseason isn’t player-related, it’s the fact heralded head coach Pat Casey
is back for the fall and 2012 campaign.
Though the story wasn’t highly publicized outside of Oregon
throughout the summer, Casey strongly considered retiring from college baseball
and taking an administrative position within the Oregon State athletic
Casey, though, at least for another season, couldn’t pry
himself away from the game, giving college baseball some great news as programs
around the country have begun or are close to beginning fall workouts.
While Casey is ecstatic to be back with the Beavers this
fall, he realizes there’s much work to be done between now and the spring. OSU
welcomes back a few key cogs from last year’s club, but also must replace
several talented players at important positions.
“I don’t think there’s anything on paper that I trust. It’s
going to be very interesting to see how the freshmen and others look this
fall,” Casey said. “I really like this club makeup wise, but it boils down to
how this team performs on the field.”
The Beavers enter fall workouts with plenty of motivation.
Even with stud catcher Andrew Susac and second baseman Jake Rodriguez
sustaining nagging injuries last season, they still managed to finish near the
top of the Pac-10 standings. Then, in the postseason, they reached the
Nashville Super Regional, dropping a tough series to highly ranked Vanderbilt
and falling short of the College World Series.
OSU might have several question marks this fall, but Omaha
remains the expectation.
The pitching staff is the center for concern entering the
fall. The Beavers finished last season with a solid 3.14 earned-run average and
must replace starting pitchers Sam Gaviglio, James Nygren and Josh Osich, who
combined for 43 of 60 starts last season.
The Beavers don’t have many experienced options for the
starting rotation. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Ben Wetzler pitched well at
times last season, but still ended the campaign with a 4.66 ERA in 67 2/3
innings. He also struck out 50 and walked 18, while teams hit him at a .275
“We thought Wetzler would make an immediate impact last
season and he did at times,” Casey said. “He was in our weekend rotation in
Pac-10 play. And let’s face it, you’re going to get some inconsistency from the
younger guys. Honestly. I thought he held his own pretty well for being a
Junior left-handed pitcher Matt Boyd is another starting
option. Boyd made 30 appearances (no starts) last season and had a 1.57 ERA in
46 innings. Chances are very good he stays in the bullpen with fellow stud
reliever Tony Bryant, but Casey at least is leaving the option open. He also is
considering utilizing Boyd as a hitter.
“It’s possible we could move Boyd to the rotation, but we
also really liked him at the end of games last season,” Casey said. “We may
also use Boyd as a hitter in the spring. I really like the fact that he has
some legitimate power. We know his future is on the mound, but we might be in a
situation where he hits a lot more.”
With Wetzler a shoe-in for the weekend rotation and Boyd at
least a possibility, that leaves open two starting jobs, which could go to some
Talented Beavers newcomers include left-handed pitchers Jace
Fry and Carlos Rodriguez and right-handed pitcher Dylan Davis.
Fry is one of the nation’s most highly touted first-year
players. He turned down overtures from the Oakland Athletics as a ninth-round
pick in the MLB draft this past summer. He blossomed as the top prospect at the
West Coast Collegiate League.
“Fry is really mature for his age. I think he’s able to come
in and pitch right away. I don’t think he has any hesitancy at all. He’s not
intimidated by anything,” Casey said. “It’s impressive to me that he was 94-95
mph throughout the summer with a breaking ball that was much better than what
we saw in high school. He really showed a lot of poise.”
Rodriguez and Davis also have much upside. Rodriguez turned
down the Atlanta Braves as a 20th-round pick this past summer, while Davis is a
two-way star that can get his fastball up to 95 mph.
“Everything is very clean mechanics-wise with Rodriguez.
He’ll go up there and get you on a 92 mph fastball,” he said. “He’s a lanky guy
with very good upside, a second and third pitch, with command of those pitches.
He has a real feel for pitching.”
“Davis is a guy that will really, really hit during his
career here, but his ability on the mound is huge, too,” he said. “He can
really get you some velocity. His issue in high school was consistency, but we
feel like we can clean that up. I think he’s a power arm and a very legitimate
It’ll be interesting to see how the Beavers progress on the
mound throughout the fall with an influx of young players.
Also keep a close eye on the OSU offense this fall. The
Beavers reached an NCAA Super Regional last season with a .267 team batting
average. There’s no doubt they were opportunistic, but that number must improve
The Beavers hope second baseman Jake Rodriguez and
designated hitter Kavin Keyes will continue where they left off last season.
Rodriguez missed a significant amount of time because of an injury, but still
hit .320 with seven RBIs. Keyes, meanwhile, burst onto the scene last season,
hitting .302 with a home run and 30 RBIs as a freshman.
“Jake must continue to get better and better, and stay
healthy,” he said. “Keyes is a perfect example of how important it is to have
young players who can make an immediate impact. Those guys need to put up similar
or better numbers in 2012.”
OSU also hopes some returning players emerge this fall.
Danny Hayes hit .279 with four home runs and 32 RBIs last season, and must be
better. The same goes for Tyler Smith, who performed well at times last season,
but still hit .221 with 11 RBIs.
The Beavers need Hayes and Smith to perform well to meet
“Hayes really needs to have an impact on our offensive
lineup. Him doing so is one of the big keys to this club this fall and in the
spring,” he said. “Smith got off to a great start last season, but then kind of
tailed off as the spring progressed. He needs to be more consistent. He got
stronger over the summer, so we feel pretty good about him.”
Oregon State is like most teams this time of year. It has
plenty of talented players to choose from, but some puzzle pieces must be put
together between now and February.
At least the Beavers have Pat Casey, the most important puzzle
piece, back for another campaign.
Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org