New pitching coach Andrew See has a strong task ahead at trying to develop a young and unproven pitching staff for the baseball program that has to replace four pitchers who made weekend starts last year including 2015 All-American Matthew Crownover who was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the sixth round of last year's MLB draft as well as last year's Saturday starter Zack Erwin who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft before being traded to the Oakland Athletics.
Projected Weekend Rotation
Friday- Charlie Barnes (LHP)- The sophomore out of Sumter, South Carolina, was rated as the top left-handed pitcher coming out of high school before playing for the Tigers as freshman last year. Barnes pitched mainly out of the bullpen as a long reliever, but he also made two weekday starts last year for former head coach Jack Leggett. While senior Clate Schmidt was expected to be the starting pitcher on Friday nights for the Tigers this coming season, Charlie Barnes was able to out-pitch Schmidt this Fall to earn the Friday role. As a freshman Barnes pitched to 1-2 record with a 3.38 ERA. A lot is expected out of Sumter native this coming season as the de-facto 'ace' of the pitching staff.
Saturday- Clate Schmidt (RHP)- The senior out of Acworth, Georgia has so far had an inconsistent career for the Tigers after coming in as a highly touted high school prospect for Jack Leggett and Co. in 2013. He has been used mostly as a bullpen arm and weekday starter throughout his career, but Schmidt will be looked upon as a leader for a young pitching staff. There was some concern about Schmidt's health in the offseason after an unexpected diagnosis of lymphoma, but Schimdt was able to beat the cancer and is cleared to return to the baseball team. Clate Schmidt has been drafted twice in his baseball career and will look to finally live up to the expectations that were bestowed upon him before his freshman year that will hopefully get him drafted even higher than the 32nd round(round he was drafted in by the Boston Red Sox in the 2015 MLB Draft) in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Sunday- *Jake Higginbotham (LHP)- The freshman out of Hoschton, Georgia, was drafted by the New York Mets in the 27th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Higginbotham was rated as the #58 freshman in the nation for the preseason by PerfectGame.com for the coming season and won the Sunday job over fellow freshmen Brooks Crawford and Alex Eubanks. There may be some growing pains for Higginbotham this coming season but look for him to be a special player for the Tigers for the next few years.
Potential Weekday Starters- Monte Lee and Co. are very high on freshman RHP Brooks Crawford out of Bishop, Georgia. Crawford is a big 6'4" 225 pound righty who Coach Lee thought had a chance to be a weekend starter for the Tigers for three years before he was barely beaten out for the Sunday role by fellow freshman Jake Higginbotham. Look for Crawford to get some midweek starts along with bullpen duties. Another young pitcher who had a strong fall was redshirt freshman RHP Alex Eubanks out of Moore, South Carolina. Eubanks had to redshirt his first year due to a debilitating injury he suffered at Clemson. Eubanks had a strong Summer in the Coastal Plain League for Wilson with a 5-3 record with a 3.40 ERA. Eubanks is expected to be a major key piece for the Tigers bullpen but could also make some weekday starts this coming season.
Hunter Van Horn-LHP- Sophomore lefty out of Tampa, Florida. Pitched mainly as a situational lefty in 2015 to a 6.14 ERA. Will look to improve upon that ERA coming out of the bullpen in 2016.
Pat Krall-LHP- The junior out of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, was one of the top relievers for the baseball squad last year. Pitched to a 2-4 record with three saves and a 4.03 ERA. Will be one of the first relievers out of the bullpen this year and will serve as a long-reliever.
Mike Goren-RHP- Redshirt freshman out of Westbury, New York. Has a chance to pitch in relief in the 6th-7th innings.
Alex Bostic (Projected Closer)- LHP- Junior out of Matthews, North Carolina.
Drew Moyer-RHP- The top reliever for the Tigers in 2014 and for the first half of the 2015 season before a season ending injury. Coach Lee has said that Moyer still has not recovered from his injury and will miss the 2016 season.
Alex Schnell-LHP- Sophomore out of Milton, Georgia.
*Andrew Papp-RHP- Freshman out of Raleigh, North Carolina.
*Brooks Crawford-RHP- Freshman out of Bishop, Georgia.
Patrick Andrews-RHP- Redshirt senior out of Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Alex Eubanks-RHP- Redshirt freshman out of Moore, South Carolina.
*Ryley Gilliam-RHP- Freshman out of Kennesaw, Georgia.
*Zach Goodman-RHP- Freshman out of Kennesaw, Georgia.
Garrett Lovorn-RHP- Redshirt Junior out of Pendleton, South Carolina.
Paul Campbell-RHP- Sophomore out of Malden, Massachusetts.
Jackson Campana-RHP- Redshirt junior out of Charlotte, North Carolina.
*Andrew Towns-LHP- Junior transfer from Matthews State Community College in Tennessee.
The main X-Factor for this group is not one player, but new pitching coach Andrew See. This is a very young/unproven/inexperienced group. I think this team will hit well this year but the pitching will need to improve immensely as the years goes on for the Tigers to have a shot at making the tourney. If See can make this group at least serviceable to go along with what is expected to be a solid lineup for the Tigers, he will deserve a lot of credit at the end of the year. I like See's track record and feel that he is definitely an upgrade over Pepicelli but he has a lot of work to do this year with the pitching staff.