College | Story | 2/26/2019

Scout Take: UCLA

Greg Gerard        
Photo: Michael Toglia (Scott Chandler)

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UCLA Bruins

What Happened: The Bruins dropped game one of their road series against Georgia Tech on a heart-breaking walk-off home run, but bounced back in a big way tallying up 12 or more hits in the next two games to take the series on the opposite side of the country. The offense and depth to the pitching staff came through for the Bruins all weekend long ultimately securing themselves as one of the top teams in the country.

Carrying Tool: The offense. There may not be a better offense in the country than what the Bruins bring to the field each day. Starting with Jeremy Ydens at the top, Preseason All-American Chase Strumpf in the three hole and 2018 first round pick Matt McLain in the middle. There’s no weakness to the order, and as shown over the course of this series, each day a new player stepped up to produce runs. Outfielder Garrett Mitchell was the leading offensive threat on Friday night, while Saturday and Sunday was practically the whole lineup getting a taste of the production with senior Jake Pries collecting three hard hits in both games.

Concerns: The offense could potentially be the biggest concern as well. Offenses do go cold and it is hard to think that UCLA could produce this much offense week in and week out. At some point if this does happen, and it very likely will at times, the pitching staff will need to continue to step up as they did this weekend. The starting staff was notable this weekend highlighted by freshman Jesse Bergin on Sunday, who has yet to allow an earned run over 11 2/3 innings so far to begin his college career, striking out 13 along the way. The bullpen’s performance was outstanding giving up just four hits and one earned run in 10 innings of work against the Yellow Jackets.

Best Player on the Field: That is a tough choice since there are about five players to choose from for this achievement, but given the track record, and quiet yet strong weekend performance, in this series the answer is most likely Chase Strumpf. The Bruins second baseman is off to a solid start to his junior season where he has a bomb in each weekend series so far and eight hits over seven games started. Strumpf is a consistent hitter with an ability to spray the ball to all parts of the field. It is hard to follow up a season like he had last year (.363-12-53), but he is off to a nice start.

Fearless Forecast: Omaha. There is no reason to believe that this team cannot reach the College World Series and even win the title with their depth on the mound and potent offense. Yes, the starting pitching is young, but the Bruins starters are maturing quickly beyond their years. John Savage, a 2013 national champion as the Bruins' head man, has to be excited about what this team brings to the table on both sides of the baseball. The Bruins certainly have the talent to reach the heights of the 2013 club and only time will tell as they continue their season this weekend back at home against Sacramento State. And once staff ace Ryan Garcia returns to the mound that only makes them that much stronger.

Player covered: Michael Toglia, Chase StrumpfGarrett Mitchell, Matt McLain, Jeremy Ydens. Zach Pettway, Holden Powell, Jack Ralston, Jack Filby, Jesse Bergin, Kyle Mora.

Michael Toglia
Toglia is a super-physical hitter in the box and his ability to hit for power will be on the minds of opposing pitchers throughout his junior season at UCLA and into his professional career. After a round of batting practice that made his lefthanded stroke look even more impressive, Toglia showcased his ability from both sides equally well in game situations with juice to both gaps from the right side and lots of pull-side pop from the left. Toglia had more at-bats from the right side over the weekend and his talents particularly from that side of the plate grew on observers as the series against Georgia Tech progressed. 

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