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Series Preview: Kansas (29-22) vs. Missouri (32-16)


Kansas Jayhawks (29-22, 8-13) vs. Missouri (32-16, 11-10)

Kansas host Missouri for a three game series this weekend. There is absolutely no need to hype this series. Anytime Missouri and Kansas play fans and players know what to expect.

Friday 6PM: Nick Czyz (2-5, 6.09 ERA) vs. Aaron Crow (10-0, 3.08 ERA)
Saturday 6PM: Andres Esquibel (3-4, 5.37) vs. Kyle Gibson (7-1, 3.84)
Sunday 1PM: T.J. Walz (4-0, 4.34) vs. Rick Zagone (1-3, 5.40)
Media: KLWN AM-1320 will broadcast all three games live.  For those outside the Lawrence area steaming audio and video will be available through this site. The Friday night game will be broadcast live on KUJH-TV (Sunflower 31)

Complete Missouri stats are located here.  Jayhawk stats here.
Missouri's SB Nation blog, Rock'M Nation will be covering the series as well.

Scouting Missouri
I will leave scouting reports on individual players to Aman - the Tigers have a few very impressive prospects. If you like to catch future pros while they are still playing at the college level definitely make time for the Friday and Saturday night games. Aaron Crow, the Tigers Friday night pitcher, will go very early this June. The Royals may take him with the #3 overall pick.

The Missouri Tigers are a good baseball team, but not a great team. Their parts are greater then their whole. They have several stars but overall their roster is more shallow than that of Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor and Nebraska. I believe this is the reason the Tigers were upset in mid-week games by low ranked teams several times this season - Minnesota, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. When Crow or Gibson are on the mound, they can beat anyone in the nation. The other two or three games they play that week, the Tigers are a pretty average NCAA team. In Big-12 series the Tigers record on Fridays is 6-1, on Saturdays 4-3, on Sunday they fall to 1-6. When Crow or Gibson pitch the Tigers have a Runs Against average of 3.8, when anyone else is pitching the average grows to 6.3. It is an unbalanced team. Most days they have only one path to victory, a strong start by one of their stud pitchers.

Offensively Missouri and KU match up pretty evenly. MU is averaging 7.3 runs scored per contest, although these numbers are inflated due to their 31-12 victory over Texas in a game played in 40mph wind gusts. If that game is factored out I think we get a more realistic view of what the Tigers produce on a given night, 6.8 runs, just below Kansas' 7.0 average. The Tigers have two terrific bats in their line-up, Aaron Senne and Jacob Priday. These two players have accounted for more than half the team's homeruns (26 of 44). Overall Missouri is a bit more patient than Kansas at the plate. They rely on high batting average and the power of Senne and Priday. KU is more physical and aggressive top to bottom. With the games being played at Hoglund KU has an edge here. The two teams matchup evenly in terms of defense and baserunning as well.

Wrapping it up - The Sunday match up favors KU, so the key for the Hawks will be scratching out a win on either Friday or Saturday. If KU can find a way to get to Crow and/or Gibson and score a few runs, if Czyz and/or Esquibel provide effective starts, the Hawks have an excellent chance of winning this series. If Friday's game goes badly for the Hawks they have to put it out of their mind quickly and come back with fire for the next two games. Few teams have had any success against Crow, he is a special pitcher but he can only factor into one of the three games this weekend. Kansas probably needs to win two of their remaining six conference games to be assured of an invite to the Big-12 tournament. Here is hoping they get both of them this weekend.

Prospect Preview by bkmhoxx

I have to start with the obvious
JR Aaron Crow 6'3, 195 RHP -Crow is one of the top players in the country and i believe him to be the best pitcher in the country (Brian Matusz of San Diego gets a close 2nd). Crow has 2 very strong pitches he relies on. His fastball and his slider. His fastball is in the lower to mid 90's with good late movement. He has great command of it and throws it on both sides of the plate and will use it up in the zone. His control is extremely good. Having control and command of a mid 90's moving fastball is a sick thing to have as a pitcher. He couldn't do it all with just a fastball however. His second pitch is a slider in the mid 80's. This is usually his strikeout pitch i would assume. He gets ahead of hitters with his fastball and then flashes the slider to finish them off. He also has a change up but at this point it is just an average pitch and he doesn't use it a whole lot. He has a 3.08 ERA with 92 K's in 76 innings. He has only walked 24 and has given up 66 hits. I will be watching him very close tonight. I want to see his 3/4 arm delivery and how smooth he looks with it. I will be anxious to seethe movement on his fastball and to see how much his slider breaks. Crow is a feisty competitor as well so i will be anxious to see him talk smack and show his emotions out there. He is from right up the street in Topeka so he should really be out to beat the Jayhawks today. I hope we can scratch some runs across.
SO Kyle Gibson 6'6, 195 RHP -I actually like Gibson about as much if not more than I like Crow. Gibson is a tall kid with very good stuff. He has 3 very good pitches. His fastball is in the low 90's and upper 80's and has good movement. His slider isn't decent and comes in at the mid 80's. He has a good combination of skills and has a high ceiling to go with his youth. He has a 3.84 ERA in 70.1 innings with 74 K's, 18 walks and 72 hits. He was drafted in the 34th in 06 by the Phillies and i would expect him to be a top 5-10 draft pick this time next year. He will be playing on the USA team this summer. I will be watching his delivery very close and I'm anxious to see what his 3 pitches look like. He pitches tomorrows game at 6pm.
SO Aaron Senne 6'2, 201 OF - Senne was drafted in the 13th rd. in 06 by Minnesota. That is a pretty high pick coming out of HS and choosing college. Senne has very nice numbers. He is batting .361 with 11 HR and 55 RBI. He has 12 Doubles, 24 K's and 32 walks. Senne appears to be a very good hitter with plenty of pop in his bat. He has good strike zone judgment as well. He will also play on the USA team this summer. He is an exciting player and i will be watching him tonight to see if he can be a first round pick after next season.
SR Jacob Priday 6'1, 215 OF -Priday has some very good power but also hits very well for average. He is batting .348 with 15 HR, 55 RBI, 14 Doubles, 37 K's and 21 Walks. Priday is a great hitter and will be tough to keep under control this weekend. I will be anxious to see his power and to gauge where his draft slot will be next month.
SO Trevor Coleman 6'1, 214 C - Coleman is a young catcher with some very good upside. He was drafted in the 38th round in 06 by the Reds and last year he was the Big 12 Freshman of the year. Being a catcher with a good bat is always a rare thing. Coleman is hitting .284 with 2 HR and 25 RBI, 5 Doubles, 23 K's and 22 Walks. I will be watching his defense behind the plate and also to see if he has any pop in his bat at all. If he can put together a good offensive campaign next year, he could move up the draft charts very quickly.
FR Nick Tepesch 6'5, 224 RHP -Tepesch was drafted in the 28th round in 07 by Boston. He is a very big kid. He has a 5.24 ERA in 22.1 innings with 13 K's and 8 Walks and has given up 24 hits. Hittable at this stage of his young career but i will be looking to see what upside he may have (if we get to see him at all).
JR Ryan Lollis 6'1, 190 OF - Lollis was drafted in the 20th round in 05 by Pittsburgh. He is a solid hitter for average with gap power and some decent speed. He is batting .326 with 1 HR, 34 RBI, 15 Doubles, 19 K's and 29 Walks. He is an exciting young prospect that may be drafted in the middle rounds next month.

A few other guys i will be watching for:
FR Brad Buehler 6'1, 204 RHP - drafted in the 43rd last year by Tampa Bay
FR Tyler Clark 6'2, 196 RHP - Clark is a strikeout pitcher drafted in the 46th last year by the Cubs
FR Andrew Thigpen 5'11, 190 SS - Thigpen is having a great freshman year batting .361 in 72 at bats
SO Greg Folgia 5'11, 195 INF - Folgia is batting .309 with some decent gap power (15 doubles) and a nice strikeout/walk ratio (34/38)