Moved up from the diaries.
Bkmhoxx will be offering his impressions of the KU baseball team on the site from time to time. He has a much better scouting eye than I do so, when our evaluations differ, trust him. Pay particular note to Tony Thompson and Jimmy Waters on this list. Coach Price singled them out in an earlier conversation as two players likely to make an immediate impact.
Thanks for the great report Bkmhoxx! - JQ
On occasion, I will be providing a more in-depth look at some of the players for the KU baseball team. I will be giving a perspective that has more of a "scout" feel to it. I like to figure out a players ceiling and talk about their strengths and weaknesses. I use their statistics as a tool but not as an overall measuring device. I like to look at a players make-up and tools and try to figure out who is going to have a break-out year and/or who has professional quality skills. I get my information from websites, from talking to other writers and scouts and from Coach Price. I then take all of my information and make guesstimates. I enjoy comments and your opinions are always welcome.
This first installation will cover the 13 freshmen for the upcoming 2008 team. Three are freshman from last year that red shirted so I included them as well. You can use this to "get to know" some of these kids and you can go to the ballpark and make your own observations. Freshmen are very difficult to project as they have only seen HS quality baseball and some have seen much tougher competition than others.
Tony Thompson 3B/IF (6'5, 220lbs)
Thompson has a chance to be a very special player here at KU. He was one of the best all around players from the state of Nevada. He has been compared to Travis Metcalf. He is a very big kid yet very athletic. He has a pro-body. He uses the entire field with his bat but he also possesses plus-power. He is an average runner. He is a decent defender with room to improve and has a great arm. He was even a great HS pitcher although he wont be pitching for the Jayhawks. Simply put, he is here to mash the ball and as I said before, he has a chance to be a very good player with a professional career on his horizon. It is likely he will be starting at 3b for the Jayhawks as a freshman. That is a very demanding position and I already expect him to succeed this year.
Jimmy Waters C/UTIL/LF (6'0, 200 lbs)
Waters also has a very good chance to become a great player for the Jayhawks. He is a leftie with gap to gap power that sometimes translates to some HR balls as a player develops. He has been described as a poor mans Alex Gordon. He is a great athlete and a good runner. He is a very competitive player which always helps in the make-up of a baseball player. He was a 3-time state champion wrestler in Iowa as well. When all is said and done, Waters is also here for his bat and athleticism. It sounds like he may give catching a shot this spring, while also possibly playing some LF and DH at some point this season. I expect Waters' bat to also surprise a lot of Jayhawk fans. Waters also has a chance to develop into a professional player
TJ Walz RHP (6', 170 lbs)
Walz comes into the season after having a great summer. He sits in the 86-88mph range. He is a strike thrower and has a very nice breaking ball. He will start the season in the bullpen and could see quite a bit of game action this year.
Ryan Laing 1B (6'0, 242 lbs)
Laing is another big freshman that Coach Price landed. He has plus power and plays good defense. He is however a slow runner so he may end up being your prototypical clean-up power-hitting type player. He should spend most of this season backing up Land and Ellrich at 1b with some possible DH at-bats as well.
Zach Thoma IF (5'10, 178)
Thoma is a very good infield defender with great hands. He has recently been announced as playing in the New York Collegiate Baseball League this coming summer. This should prove to be a great opportunity for Thoma to improve with the bat and to help him grow as a D-I baseball player. This year Thoma will likely be a utility infielder off of the bench or could possibly be red-shirted.
Phil Parrish OF (6'1, 190 lbs)
Parrish has a very good arm and plays good defense. He also appears to be good with the bat as well. Parrish looks like he could be a plus defender with decent upside on the offensive end as well. He may need a year of development as a red-shirt.
Casey Lytle OF (6'2, 200 lbs)
Lytle is another very athletic freshman for the Jayhawks this year. Lytle provides some good offense. He is a line drive hitter and runs very well. His weakness right now is on defense (as it is with most freshman). Lytle may also be a red-shirt this year as he continues to work on his OF skills at the D-I college level.
Greg Herbst RHP/1B/3B (6'6, 235 lbs)
Herbst is another sizable freshman for the Jayhawks. He has however lost some weight in preparation for his freshman year. He has very nice hands and comes in with a very good swing. He is however the youngest player on the team at 18 and will quite possibly be red-shirted to work on his defense and bat.
Jordan Jakubov RHP (6'4,200 lbs)
Jakubov was one of the most highly recruited players in the state of Kansas. He is a great athlete and a very fast runner. He throws in the 88-89mph range. Jakubov did however have Tommy John surgery this summer and will be red-shirted this season. Jakubov should be ready to pitch next spring and does bring a lot of skill to the pitching staff. He has a good opportunity to have a professional career if he can overcome the TJ surgery.
Zach Sperry RHP (6'1, 190 lbs)
Sperry broke his ankle this fall and will be red-shirted this season to rehab. He was a strikeout pitcher in HS and should begin next year in the bullpen.
Brett Bochy : Red-shirt freshman RHP (6'1, 190lbs)
Bochy pounds the strike zone and throws a good breaking ball and a nice slider. He will be a factor in the Jayhawk bullpen this season. His father is Bruce Bochy, the Manager of the San Diego Padres, so baseball is definitely in his blood.
Brian Heere : Red-shirt freshman OF (5'10, 170 lbs)
Heere has made some great progress in his red-shirt year. He is a slap hitter with some speed. He plays very hard and projects as a top of the order type player that everyone enjoys watching and having on their team. I personally know Brian and can say he is a great kid that works his tail off. Heere will get some OF time this year and some DH at bats.
Blake Slagle : Red-shirt freshman OF (6'1, 190 lbs)
Slagle is a good runner that can hit. His struggles should mainly be on the defensive side of the ball as he works to improve in this area. He will see some OF time as well as some DH at bats.
My next project will be covering current Jayhawks that appear to have a shot at professional baseball in their future.