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College | Story | 3/14/2019

Scout Take: Rice

Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Justin Collins (Rice Athletics)

College Notes: March 1 | March 2 | March 3College Player Database
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Rice Owls

What Happened: The Owls came into the Shriners Classic reeling a bit, having gone 3-6 over their first nine games, and then losing a heartbreaker in the opening game of the event to Texas State. They rallied well, however, and earned quality wins both on Saturday against Baylor and on Sunday versus TCU when the offense exploded for 12 runs. Those two wins to close out the Classic were huge as Rice has played better baseball in the weeks following the Classic than they did beforehand, and now sit with an overall record of 8-10. 

Carrying Tool: The starting pitching. Matt Canterino on Friday nights is an excellent starter for the Owls as he can go toe-to-toe with most anyone in the country, and should be a relatively high draft choice this spring. He's currently sporting a 1.50 ERA and 0.71 WHIP across 24 innings with a 30-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Jackson Parthasrathy has been very good in the weekend as well, as he's at a 2.05 ERA/1.00 WHIP across 22 innings. The final starter, Evan Kravetz, has 33 strikeouts over 20 2/3 innings, and while he's been more hittable than the other two, he adds a potentially dominant piece as well. 

Concerns: Offensive consistency. Rice's offensive numbers as a whole are solid, as they are slashing .278/.378/.424 as a team, good for an OPS of .802. Quality numbers for sure, but they've been pretty inconsistent in how they've achieved those numbers. They've been shutout three times already and have scored a single run in another game as well. However, they've also exploded for offensive outputs of 15, 25, 12 and 12 runs in wins. Rice has offensive firepower, this much is for sure, but if they can get better about not allowing the peaks to be followed by valleys as far as run production goes, it could go a long ways towards finding a winning streak. 

Best Player on the Field: Matt Canterino. I was temped to go with Justin Collins here given just how good he is defensively behind the plate, but Canterino has been essentially flawless so far in 2019 and was dominant against Texas State in the Shriners Classic. He allowed only a single unearned run while scattering four hits and no walks with nine strikeouts over the course of his seven innings. He can dominate with the fastball/slider combo, is an elite strike-thrower and is also effective with his curveball and changeup. He has a chance to be a top-five round selection in this June's draft and could go even higher if he keeps posting the numbers that he has so far throughout the whole season. 

Fearless Forecast: Will depend on the conference tournament. Rice will clearly be one of the top handful teams in Conference USA this season, but I'd struggle to thing they'll have enough of a resume to be an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They'll need to play extremely well in the C-USA tournament, possibly winning it, in order to get to the postseason. That said, they have the right amount of veterans in the lineup, good starting pitching as detailed above and a really nice back-end of the bullpen. If they can get 1-2 more arms to really take it to a new level, as well as find more offensive consistency, there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to go on a run. 

Player covered: Justin Collins, Trei Cruz, Addison MossMatt Canterino, Evan Kravetz.

Justin Collins
Rice's sophomore catcher and middle-of-the-order presence, Justin Collins has gotten off to an excellent start this season, both offensively and defensively. He's slashing .308/.440/.492, striking out quite a bit but walking a good bit as well. His athleticism stands out both behind the plate and at it, and he's got very good strength and size overall, and looks the part of a potential high draft choice next year. 

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