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Five questions to answer as you enter 2022

After years of struggling to be competitive when the SEC established itself as the toughest conference in college baseball and finally broke through to a regional in 2019, Tennessee jumped back on the national stage of the sport by reaching the College World Series in 2021 for for the first time since 2005.

That success will be difficult to duplicate in 2022, as Volunteers had a whole host of key players who were drafted during the summer. This is not to say that the talent is not there for Tennessee to return to Omaha, because it certainly is, but it will require some newcomers to jump into the deep end and succeed right away.

These are five questions Tennessee will look to answer next season as they try to keep the ball rolling in the program.

Who joins Blade Tidwell on the weekend trip?

Whether he pitches on Friday or later this weekend, right-handed Blade Tidwell will enter the 2022 season is expected to lead the Tennessee rotation after a first-year season that saw him with 3.74 ERA in 98.2 innings.

After a stint with the USA Baseballs Collegiate National Team during the summer, his workload in 2021 increased to 105.2 laps for the year, Tidwell got a late start to the fall in the interest of giving him proper recovery time.

Along with him in also being taken slowly in the fall are perhaps the top two candidates to jump into the weekend trip in fourth-year junior right-handers Seth Halvorsen, a transfer from Missouri who chose to come to Tennessee instead of signing as a 19th round, and second right-hander Chase Dollander, a transfer from Georgia Southern.

Both have good things. Halvorsen can touch three-figures with his fast ball, and both his breaking ball and changeup had 44% whiff rates last season. Throwing strikes was his problem at Mizzou, and it played a big part in his 6.00 ERA for the season, but if the coach was pitching Frank Andersen can help him get it straightened out, his stuff is SEC stuff in the front line. His experience, having been a saint for Missouri, does not hurt either.

Seth Halvorsen, he has a background to himself, ”teammate Evan Russell said about the new arrival. “He plays on Friday nights in this league. He’s made the deal, and he’s been through it, so I think it’s been an adjustment for him, but it’s been pretty easy to get him in, and he knows what his routines are, he’s kind of a professional at that aspect. “

Last season, Dollander had an ERA of 4.04 in 49 innings with the Eagles, using a fastball that was up to 97 mph and a change that had almost 60% whiff rate in a somewhat small selection. The question for him will be how he adapts to take on a larger workload than he had as a beginner and how he handles SEC hits, but like Halvorsen, things are not really an issue.

One wild card for the rotation competition can be fourth-year junior right-handers Camden Sewell. With a 2.54 ERA in 99.1 career innings, Sewell has been an effective pitcher for Tennessee over three years, but it has largely come as a reliever.

He may still end up in a relief or swing role in the 2022 season, but Sewell admits he aims a little higher, at least for now.

“I think all of us, as competitors, want to be part of the rotation, so I think a big (goal) for me is to try to get into that rotation and do everything I can,” he said. – There is also a lot of competition here. We’ve got a lot of great arms this year, so it’s fun to be with. In reality, it makes everyone better. ”

Want Chase is burning make an impression right away?

Right-handed Chase is burning, the No. 49 BA 500 player entering the 2021 draft, is one of the most talented freshmen on a college roster this fall.

With a fast ball that has touched 100 km / h lately, a change and two clear crack balls, it is easy to get caught up in things from Burns, but he is early impressed with the feeling for the finest points in the craft.

“His stuff has been very, very good, and that’s what’s hyped up, but pitchability has been outstanding,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said. “I think he’s a much better pitcher, if you know what I’m talking about, than people give him credit for. It’s not an “I’m just going to try to blow your doors off for three outs.” He has the ability to be a weekend starter at some point in his career, and I think he can not only throw good things at you, but know how to use it. “

His teammates have similar assessments at this early stage.

“He’s elite in the category of getting in and having confidence, and he’s a guy who can make adjustments throughout the trip,” Russell said. “If a certain pitch doesn’t work, it’s okay to admit it and then go with something else. So being able to see him have the maturity that most guys don’t have at this age is special.”

Given the relative surplus of options available to Tennessee in terms of rotation in 2022, the intersection where Burns is ready for a weekend starting spot and when one is available may not come in his first season, but it would be foolish to rule it out. Anyone who has such good things that can also let coaches and teammates brag about his maturity and sense of pitching will be evaluated for the most important places on a pitching staff.

Beyond that, midweek starts can be a good place for a beginner to get their feet wet, and it will also be tempting to have an arm as good as Burns’ back on the bullpen. Suffice it to say that it seems safe to expect to see a lot of Chase is burning as a freshman for Tennessee somehow.

Who takes over in catcher?

With veteran rear stop Connor pavoloni The draft of the Orioles, Tennessee pitchers will throw to another catcher this season.

The early favorite to be the new catcher is actually Russell, a fifth-year senior. In that case, Russell would really be a new old catcher, because while he has been the most outfield player for the Volunteers in his career, he came to Knoxville as a catcher after high school.

The move back to catcher for Russell happened for several different reasons. First, a successful move would improve Russell’s position as a prospect on the next level, as his outfield and record play have not yet been enough to entice evaluators to draft him. Tennessee will also obviously have his bat in the lineup as a guy coming out of a 14-home run season with more than 600 record appearances in his career.

But just as much as anything else, Tennessee simply had a need and Russell wanted to help. In addition to Pavolony moving on to professional baseball, incoming transfer Matt McCormick from West Virginia decided this fall to move away from the sport. This left the volunteers with literally zero experience in the position.

“I came to Coach V and was like ‘Hi man, I know you do not have many catchers coming back. I would like to try it,'” Russell recalls. “And he said, ‘You know, we would be open to giving you a chance, but it’s not going to be easy.’ has put in a lot of work, me and Coach (Josh) Elander, we’re really on the same page, and I’ve been grinding to try to get to the point where I can handle the big dogs on the mound, . »

There is more work to be done for Russell to sew up the starting job, but so far he has done nothing but put himself in a position to succeed there.

“When he asks you a question or you present information to him, he is a sponge and he is very humble throughout the deal and realizes that there is competition in that position as well,” Vitello said. “I think it would be a shock if he is not in our opening day, but he has in no way reached the catch position (for) the opening day.”

Torin Montgomery Courtesymissouri

Missouri Baseball: Five Questions to Answer Into 2022

After a tough 2021 season, Missouri has pressed the reset button.

Who should lead the crime?

Russell, who comes after a career-best season in many ways, will be one of the leaders, regardless of position, but he will not be alone.

The two primary catalysts will probably be third-year other outfielders Jordan beck and Drew Gilbert.

Beck hit .271 / .336 / .523 with 15 homers and a team-leading 64 RBIs in 2021 and followed that up in the Cape Cod League over the summer by hitting .267 / .377 / .400. He is a good athlete who can play midfield if he is forced to serve, but he profiles himself better in the right field, where he can get the most out of the plus arm strength. At 6 feet-3, 210 pounds, Beck looks like part of a talent in the first round, and with another big year at Knoxville, he may well be.

Gilbert hit .274 / .341 / .437 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs last season, which helped him secure a spot with Tidwell on the Collegiate National Team. He is a good runner, a steady midfielder, and he packs more strokes than you might think based on his 5-foot-9 frame.

Back is also a sixth year senior Luke Lipcius, who is locked in as the team’s daily first baseman for all purposes. Lipcius has tackled ups and downs in performance during his six years on campus, both individually and from a team standpoint, but he had a breakout season in 2021, with 15 home runs, giving Beck the lead.

Two other veterans who may be ready for acne like the one Lipcius enjoyed in 2021 are fourth-year juniors Trey Lipscomb and Christian Scott, who also happens to be good friends who host a web series on the Tennessee baseball Twitter account.

Lipscomb, which is primarily in the competition at third base, has had fewer than 100 record appearances, but went 9 against 29 with three doubles and a home run last season. Scott, an outfielder, has never had more than 42 strokes in a single season, but he has been an effective striker when he has had chances. He’s a .298 hit with a .425 at the base percentage, and Vitello sees things go together for him.

“I think he sees himself getting better,” Vitello said of Scott. “Although the statistics may not be there online, there is no doubt that he has gotten better every year in and out, and now I think he smells a little blood. I think without Covid, maybe a little more action last year. Without an injury first year, maybe more. Maybe it’s his time. I definitely feel it’s Trey Lipscomb’s time and the two are buddies. So maybe it’s time for both of these guys. “

With several important departures, including Pavolony, third baseman Jake rucker, second baseman Max Ferguson and card stop Liam SpenceThere are gaps to fill, but just considering the veterans are back in the mix, Tennessee still has the potential for a deep, quality series.

Which freshmen have stood out among position players?

Given the opportunities for playing time available on the court, it has worked well for Tennessee that two freshmen who have stood out so far are Christian Moore, a potential two-way player originally from Brooklyn, and 6-foot-3, 235-pound California native Blake burke.

Moore is in the middle of the competition at second base. He generates an impressive bat speed, which provides good raw power on the disc, and although the second base may be where he finds immediate playing time, he showed the ability to handle the left side of the field during the preparation days.

Burke passes the eyeball test, and he has the power to match the physicality that is apparently within his framework. He is a first baseman of subjects, who is also listed as an outfielder on the list. He worked to get in better shape ahead of the senior season in high school, and that work paid off by letting his natural athletics shine through. Given the relatively crowded outfield image and the presence of Lipcius at first base, Burke’s playing time may be more situational than Moore’s, but both have done enough to prove they deserve it.

“You can tell they want to be here every day, and with that they are eager to learn, work, show what they can do, but they are not afraid either,” Vitello said. “It may sound easy to someone who listens at home, but when you’re a freshman on campus here and it’s the SEC and there’s media around and things like that, you may have a tendency to get a little anxious or doubt yourself. times, and while none of them have been perfect, especially with the nuances of college baseball, base running is so important, defenses are highlighted, they have been far from perfect, but they have been good because I do not think any of them are afraid. ”

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