Thoughts on 2018 Horns and on 2019

Discussion in 'Baseball' started by FWHORN, Jun 21, 2018.


    FWHORN 5,000+ Posts

    With the 2018 season now in the books its a good time to look back on this season and reflect on what was accomplished and what we can expect in 2019.

    First, a little history. I started really watching Texas baseball when I was 11 about to turn 12 years old in 1982 and watched the CWS on ESPN. I remember watching Texas lose to Miami but getting hooked on college baseball. The next year Texas won it all and I cheered my little head off. I was disappointed when Texas lost in finals in 84 to an Augie Garrido led CS Fullerton and devastated when the Horns lost two straight to Miami in 85 in the finals. When I got to Austin at the end of the 80's as a student the Disch was my weekend home and for the 30 plus years since my time in Austin I have followed every game I can and find myself looking for the score when I cant. That is long way of saying that like many of you I have lived and died Texas Longhorn baseball for a long time.

    With the perspective of going on 36 years of watching Texas baseball, I look at 2018 and think a lot about 2000. That was the year that Augie and his philosophy seemed to truly take hold of the program and the hangover of the end of the Gus era seemed to finally come to an end. After a losing season in '98 and a two and que regional berth in '99 down in Houston, it was the 2000 team that won 46 games, upset Arizona State in Tempe regional twice out of the losers bracket and won a home super regional over Penn State (who were also an upset winner of a regional and thus Texas could host Super) to finally get Texas back to Omaha. That 2000 team also lost both games in Omaha but it was the getting there that mattered. Like 2000 this team has the potential to be the turn the page team that starts another run. While the Horns would lose to Stanford in the regional round in 2001 they would follow that with 4 straight CWS appearances and ultimately would have 6 CWS appearances in 10 years which would include two national titles, two second place finishes and one national semifinal appearance. The run from 2000 to 2009 is arguably the best decade in the history of Texas baseball (its either the '80's or the 2000's and two NC's in 2000's and the tougher competition in that decade to me gives edge to the 2000 decade though I will concede the 80's teams won more games and change 84, 85 or 89 and maybe I would put the 80's as best decade). Regardless of which decade was the best it was the 2000 team that started the most recent tremendous run.

    Now does that mean this is start of another great ten year run, I don't know, but I like to think that this team and what Pierce is doing has that possibility. This team overachieved winning the Big XII regular season title and getting to Omaha. While the pitching was solid it was not great and there were weekends and games where the pitching just wasn't there. The Horns were not good away from the Disch and those struggles on the road almost cost Texas a regional host spot. I think in particular of lost weekends in Morgantown and Manhatten, Kansas and lost series against two pretty bad teams. Except for Stanford, the Horns won every other home series and they don't sniff the super regionals if they have to travel to a regional. Texas showed it could win on road in Lubbock and Norman but they will have to improve away from Austin next year to take the next step.

    Some lasting memories from this year will be Hamilton's walk off against Texas State, Kody's walk off against TCU, beating aggy in the regional and a game three of a super regional that was as intense as any game I have watched in years. The sweeps of Baylor and TCU were sweet and winning the Big XII regular season outright when they trailed by three games with six to play was incredible.

    No one could have predicted the kind of year Kody had. I think we all thought he could have a good year but not the one he had and that is a lot of offense to have to replace next year. The Horns will lose at least two of their weekend starters and maybe all three. The JUCO experiment was a definite success this year and while it is always preferred to have players from their freshman year on, filling holes with JUCO's is never a bad thing. Pierce has shown an ability to adapt to the players he has and that is something that cannot be valued enough. Without the JUCO's this year Texas struggles to be a regional team let alone a host or super regional winner.

    Fall ball will tell us a lot about who will step up to fill the void on offense left by Clemens and who the weekend pitchers will likely be. While Texas lost its best incoming recruit (which really wasnt a surprise and I think Pierce knew he would never get him on campus and had planned accordingly), there are a couple of freshman arms coming in and there will likely be another JUCO like Bocci brought in to be weekday starter. Texas has another tough schedule next year, another thing I really like, and while there may be a step back remember that 01 was a step back from 2000 but was the launching point for the rest of the decades success.

    Hook em and see you next spring for another season of Texas baseball.:hookem:
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    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  2. ViperHorn

    ViperHorn 5,000+ Posts

    Great observations FW.
  3. Phil Elliott

    Phil Elliott 1,000+ Posts

    That's being kind, IMO. I would say the pitching was inconsistent.

    As long as we are reminiscing, for my money, being eliminated from the CWS with only 1 loss in 89 (by Wichita State) was a bigger kick in shorts than Miami in 85. Hell I'm still mad about it.
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  4. WJHorn

    WJHorn < 25 Posts

    Thought the exactly the same thing about the 2000 team - it was disappointing to go 2-n-que (with neither game being close) then as well, but such a great feeling to get back to Omaha after a drought. That team was also carried by a star (pitcher Beau Hale, I think was his hame) and had some gritty players (seem to remember the catcher Ryan Hubele being one). It was obvious that Augie needed to recruit better overall, but he could still clearly coach up what he had. And one can't understate the impact of getting to the CWS on the perception of the trajectory of a program by its returning players, recruits and even fans. Huge for the mojo/psyche going forward! The only slight difference I'd note about the 2000 team was that they went on the road for regionals and found a way to win, and I'm still concerned about this year's team's mostly poor performance (Tech and OU notwithstanding) away from the Disch. A nit, I know, but hopefully DP and staff can figure out how to get them to play better on the road next year - that's the difference between being a regional host and a Top 8 national seed.

    BTW, Bowels wrote in his article in the paper this morning about the following players to watch for next year:

    Pitchers: Cole Quintanilla, Donny Diaz, Ty Madden,Coy Cobb
    Others: Bryce Reagan, Alec Carr, Chase Roberts

    Anyone on the forum have any insights on these guys (e.g., where they're from, what their potential role and impact is for next year's team,...)? Sorry if that is common knowledge - just don't recall seeing anything in the limited info out there on baseball recruiting...
  5. giveemhell

    giveemhell 500+ Posts

    I think of UT baseball in terms of coaching eras. It’s kind of amazing that David Pierce is only the 5th full-time coach for the program since 1911:

    Billy Disch (1911 – 1939)
    Bibb Falk (1940 – 1967)
    Cliff Gustafson (1968 – 1996)
    Augie Garrido (1997 – 2016)
    David Pierce (2017 – present)

    I loved Gus and had trouble warming up to Augie when he first got here. Augie was a little prickly those first couple of years, and would occasionally throw the players under the bus in post-game interviews. Once the team started winning consistently, though, the Zen master (and humorous) side of Augie emerged, and he became one of my favorite Texas coaches of all time. Pierce is hard to get to know, he’s a man of fewer words, but I’m hoping this season is a sign of good things to come.
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  6. BevoBeef

    BevoBeef 250+ Posts

    As far as 2018, it is amazing what Pierce did with the total talent that was lacking when compared to the roster that Arkansas and Florida had this year. Two big improvements needed to get into the national top five rankings are more consistent pitching and the knack of winning on the road. The latter will take care of itself if the talent recruited will be high enough. Pierce's ability to read the pitchers is uncanny, and his experience as a pitching coach is quite evident. Even though his formula for pitching development is adequate, I still see no proof as to whether his being a part-time pitching coach combined with a volunteer coaching assistant is as good as a full-time pitching coach like Skip, which Augie had available to him. Although the Clemens' shoes will be very difficult to fill, the improvement in the ability to score runs has been impressive, and I have real hope that this will continue.

    As far as starters for next year, I assume that Shugart and Kingham will sign with the majors and Henley will stay. Shaw and Sawyer will probably decide not to come back and move on in some way.

    Starting pitchers --> Henley, O'Donnell, Elder, plus two youngsters which we have not seen much of this year. Bocchi will compete if he develops a good enough third pitch-type.

    Closer --> Ridgeway ( has good enough stuff if he can develop better control and stay healthy enough). Some believe Fields will be the one, but I am hoping he develops better as a batter. I have not seen Diaz yet but some belief him to be a good candidate.

    Outfield --> Fields, Todd, Ellis, and one of the youngsters.

    Infield --> Reynolds, Hamilton (SS), Bryson Smith (2B), Hibbeler (1B), and one of the youngsters. Zubia could start at 1B depending upon his batting development. Bertelson might start if his batting improves quite a bit.

    Catcher --> Petrinsky and McCann again. I know nothing about Gauntt.
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  7. sbmcruise

    sbmcruise 100+ Posts

    Alec Carr or Peter Geib at 1B. I want someone who can hit for power. Masen Hibbeler’s batting average of .263 and only 4 HR isn’t enough for a classic power hitting position. Both Alec Carr and Peter Geib are six feet tall or taller to cut down on errors by our brilliant fielding but sometimes wild throwing SS.
  8. BevoBeef

    BevoBeef 250+ Posts

    I agree with that point, but (but as long as we are at hoping) the better situation would be to start Zubia at 1B and let the best youngster become a star at the DH position. Zubia was 1st-team all-state (Tx) in high school at 3B, so he should be able to handle the grounders at the other hot corner. He is 6'-4" but has to work hard at getting playing time by developing his feet movement that is different at the 1B position.

    If Tate comes back as a 5th year senior, there will be 7 others in the outfield besides Masen and will include 4 players who have started this year. This has been Masen's first year at seeing the high quality of pitching talent that he consistently saw in tournament play; so he has to learn how to hit the curve-slider bender to get that average back up to what it was at Odessa College, where he hit over 300 as a freshman and almost 500 that last year in about 40 games each year. On this 2018 Longhorn team, he was 3rd in SB, 5th in OBP, and 5th in SLG%. Therefore, with only a small amount of hitting development, he will be hard to keep out of the lineup (he is listed as 6-0 in height).

    You are right in pointing out that who plays at 1B will be one of the biggest controversies next year.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
  9. sbmcruise

    sbmcruise 100+ Posts

    I’m wondering if Zach is ever going to have the foot skills to play at 1B. He redshirted and played this year, so he’s had two years to work out at 1B and Pierce still doesn’t think he’s ready there. I like Zach and would love to see him play at 1B, I just don’t know if he can.

    I see that Korey Holland has now signed for $515,000, well above the slot of $125,000. I saw he was an Academic All-District each year in HS and that and his 14th round selection slot value made me think he wouldn’t sign and would be a guy we could be enjoying watching for three years. I was very disappointed when he signed.

    Having just come back from the CWS in Omaha, I am acutely sensitive to whether we have the raw talent to compete at that level. Pretty much every team there had more and higher draft picks than we did. Somehow they get more of the top talent on campus than we do. Also they have some high performing seniors on their teams and we don’t. Some of that has to do with being CWS teams last year and deciding to come back to try and win a national championship. Our guys know we aren’t yet that close and so they sign as Juniors when they have the leverage to get more money. Pierce is making significant progress on the playing field, but it isn’t clear he is making much progress in recruiting kids out of high school and as a result he has had to rely on JUCO talent. You may be able to fill a need with a JUCO, but I don’t see teams winning national championships with them.
  10. ViperHorn

    ViperHorn 5,000+ Posts

    Pierce is doing what he has to to keep the team relevant.
    Not getting the better HS kids on campus has been an issue for several years. Seems like teams like Tech and TCU aim a little lower; coach up; and end up finishing above Texas.

    It comes down to who do you allocate the scholarship money to before the MLB draft? If you wait until after the draft you are screwed.

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