9/26/2012 10:33:09 PM
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas baseball program typically is expected to not only just compete for a spot in the NCAA postseason, but also reach the College World Series annually, or at least every couple of seasons.
So, when the Longhorns failed to even reach the NCAA postseason in 2012, there was plenty of grumbling in Austin, Texas. Enough grumbling that long-time assistant coach Tommy Harmon essentially was moved to another area of the athletic department, while UT turned to young, energetic assistant Tommy Nicholson, who came from Sacramento State.
Interested to see what the Longhorns had so far this fall, we took in the second scrimmage of fall workouts at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Here are a few notes from the second scrimmage.
* Before Wednesday, I had heard from a few sources the Longhorns looked much more physical than last season, and that's truly the case. Junior college transfer outfielder Matt Moynihan is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, but had a very stout, imposing frame at the plate. Outfielder Landon Steinhagen, who hit a couple of balls very hard in the scrimmage, looked impressive in his 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame.
* Texas sophomore left-handed pitcher Dillon Peters started the afternoon on the mound for the Longhorns. He was consistently 86-88 on the mound. Last season, I definitely got him in the 90-91 range at times, so he might not have been max effort in this performance. Though he, nor other pitches, threw a ton of secondary stuff, it did give us a good idea of velocities.
* Texas freshman righthanded pitcher Holden Helmink was a guy I was looking forward to seeing. He was consistently in the 90-94 range during some Perfect Game events in the past, and on this day, he was consistently 90-91 with his fastball. Helmink has a very slender, 6-foot-4, 185-pound, frame, so he has a lot of room to grow. Helmink will be a very good pitcher, velo-wise, for the Longhorns well before his days in Austin are done.
* Weatherford Junior College transfer and 6-foot-3, 190-pound, righthanded pitcher Cameron Cox worked in the scrimmage and threw well. He consistently was in the 88-90 range with his fastball. He didn't have blow-away stuff by any means, but he was consistent for the most part. He definitely looks like a quality arm the Longhorns could utilize in the spring.
* Last but certainly not least, I was very intrigued to see usual outfielder Cohl Walla on the mound. Walla pitched in high school, but it wasn't a preferred position for him. With a very slender, 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame, I was interested to see him pitch. Well, Walla didn't throw any secondary pitches in his performance, but was consistently 87-88 with his fastball.
* Texas junior lefthanded pitcher Kirby Bellow will be an interesting guy to watch in the spring. Bellow has just been OK for the Longhorns in the past, but he really showed some strides in the second scrimmage of the fall. He was up to 90 with his fastball and showed a solid slider. He certainly impressed the coaches with his performance.
* It's easy to see why Texas shortstop C.J. Hinojosa was a Perfect Game All-American out of high school. Though Hinojosa still has a little work to do body-wise, he was very slick in the field. He showed good range, instincts, glove and a very strong arm to first base. As I tweeted earlier today, the Longhorns have a special one in Hinojosa. He'll be a blast to watch.
* I continue to really like slap-hitting outfielder Mark Payton. Payton hit for a very solid clip for the Longhorns last season. And as I told someone today, if the Longhorns can give him any help at all at the plate, he’ll finished the 2013 campaign with a very good batting average. Payton is only 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, and is not an elite prospect. However, he’s the type of player that a team needs to give a chance to. Could be a real diamond in the rough professionally before it’s said and done.
* Looking forward to seeing talented freshman righthanded pitcher Chad Hollingsworth soon. Hollingsworth was a heralded arm out of high school, and enters Texas at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds. However, he has battled some tenderness and hasn’t pitched the first couple of days of practice. The ‘Horns expect him to pitch next week, perhaps as early as Sunday when UT hosts its annual Scout Day.