KU Baseball held its media day today. Coach Price fielded questions for about twenty minutes and the players were available for interviews. The Jayhawks leave for Hawaii on Thursday where they will play a five game series vs. Hawaii-Hilo this weekend.
Price believes the 2008 team has the deepest pitching staff of any Kansas team he has coached. He explained he tries to develop a 4-4-4 staff, four reliable seniors, four juniors, and four underclassmen. Developing a staff like this costs a lot in terms of scholarship usage, but it will ensure continuity from year to year.
Regarding specific pitchers, Price said Nick Czyz has improved his breaking ball and control. He thinks Shaeffer Hall has the best breaking ball and best change-up on the staff, as well as having great control. Sam Freeman is operating in the 88-93mph range but control is still an issue as he completes his conversion from position player to pitcher. Andy Marks has been throwing well. He was "50 to 75%" in his most recent bullpen session. Marks mechanics look good and he is throwing pain free. This is all very encouraging. Price expects Marks to make his first appearances during the Florida Spring Classic (March 19-23).
Price was asked about a few position players as well. He said Preston Land looks great, "He is down to 258 and rock solid." Jimmy Waters is working on developing the skills needed to play at catcher. "Waters has a chance to be as good a hitter as I have ever coached." When asked about center field Price said Nick Faunce has looked very good so far but if needed Casey Larson and John Allman can both play the position.
I asked Price how he saw the Big-12 breaking down this season. He sees Texas and Texas A&M as the two favorites, followed by Baylor and Missouri. He thinks it is realistic for KU to set their sights on fifth place, which should insure them a tournament bid.
Regarding this weekend, the five starting pitchers will be Wally Marciel, Shaeffer Hall, Nick Czyz, Sam Freeman and Andres Esquibel. Marciel will be on a 90 pitch count limit so he can come back and start the Wednesday game at Arkansas.
All players will see action, but the starting lineup according to the prepared material is:
Buck Afenir C, Preston Land 1B, Robby Price 2B, Tony Thompson 3B, Eirk Morrison SS, John Allman LF, Nick Faunce CF, Ryne Price RF, and Jimmy Waters DH.