Countdown To Opening Day: Starting Pitchers

UABSPORTS.COM
UABSPORTS.COM

UABSPORTS.COM

Feb. 14, 2014

Well Opening Day is here and what a better way to finish the 2014 positional previews than with the starting pitchers!

Ninth-year head coach Billy Godwin returns two-thirds of his weekend rotation highlighted by Preseason All-American Jeff Hoffman and 2013 Freshman All-American David Lucroy. But the Pirates also have a young mix of talent that should bolster what some are saying is one of the top pitching staffs in the country.

Once again Hoffman will be the Pirates Friday starter when they take they take the field this afternoon against James Madison (3 p.m.). Already this season he has received numerous preseason accolades including being named to three All-America Teams (Baseball America/First-Team, Perfect Game/First-Team and Collegiate Baseball/Third-Team) and preseason Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Year by those same publications. Over the last two days, the Latham, N.Y. native was named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List and was tabbed as the second-best collegiate player in the nation by CollegeBaseballDaily.com

 
 Quick Hits  

 Jeff Hoffman | Jr. | RHP
 • Named to three Preseason All-America Teams (Baseball America/1st-Team, Perfect Game/1st-Team, Collegiate Baseball/3rd-Team) 
 • Tabbed C-USA Preseason Pitcher-of-the-Year by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game 
 • Named second overall best player nationally by CollegeBaseballDaily.com
 • Listed as No. 2 over prospect for 2014 MLB Draft by Baseball America and Perfect Game 
 • Second-Team All C-USA selection as a sophomore
 • Posted 6-7 record with 3.20 ERA in 109.2 innings with 84 Ks in 2013

   

As a sophomore in 2013, Hoffman went 6-7 with a 3.20 ERA earning Second-Team All C-USA honors. He led the Pirates in quality starts (11), innings pitched (109 2/3), strikeouts (84) and quality starts (11), while ranking second in walk-to-strikeout ratio (0.46). The right-hander earned C-USA Pitcher-of-the-Week accolades for the second time in his career after tossing a complete game, one-hit shutout against North Carolina Central (Mar. 29). Hoffman ranked among the league leaders (all games) in innings pitched (fifth) and strikeouts (84/9th), while standing 98th nationally in strikeouts.

This past summer Hoffman spent his second-straight season playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of Cape Cod League, where he was named the 2013 Robert A. McNeece Award winner for Outstanding Pro Prospect. He posted a 2-0 record with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. In four starts he fanned 33 batters, held his opponents to a .217 composite average and posted a 0.15 walk-to-strikeout ration.

His finest start of the summer came July 17 against Orleans, in which he threw 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball, scattering three hits, walking one and striking out 11 batters. The performance was enough to earn him Coca-Cola Pitcher-of-the-Week honors.

 
 Quick Hits  

 David Lucroy | RSo. | RHP
 • Freshman All-American selection by Collegiate Baseball in 2013 
 • Second-Team and All-Freshman Confernece USA selection
 • 4-2, 2.49 ERA with 82 Ks in 72.1 IP
 • Broke Seth Maness' freshman record with 82 strikeouts

   

Lucroy is set to begin his third season with the ECU pitching staff, but second as an active member after redshirting in 2012. He returns to his familiar spot as the Saturday guy in Pitching Coach Dan Roszel's rotation and looks to build on a solid freshman campaign. In his rookie season, the right-handers started 14 of 15 games this season posting a 4-2 record with a 2.49 ERA. He ranked among the league leaders in fewest hits allowed (second with 49), opposing batting average (third at .194), fewest runs (sixth with 31) and ERA (seventh).

The Umatilla, Fla. native earned C-USA Pitcher-of-the-Week honors following his two-hit complete game shutout against Monmouth where he fanned a career-high 12 batters. Following his C-USA Second-Team and All-Freshman Team honors, Lucroy added another accolade to his resume when he was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball becoming the fifth Freshman All-American selection under Coach Godwin and the first since Kevin Brandt in 2009.

 
 Quick Hits  

 Tyler Bolton | Jr. | RHP
 • Appeared in 10 games making two starts in 2013  
 • Posted 0-2 record with 7.36 ERA in 14.2 IP
 • Named Coastal Plain League (CPL) All-Star game starter in 2013
 • CPL Post-Season All-Star after posting 5-0 record with 0.87 ERA (second-lowest in league)
 • Worked 52.0 innings allowing 6 runs (5 earned) on 24 hits with 49 Ks to just 15 BBs

   

 
 Quick Hits  

 Reid Love | Jr. | LHP
 • Second-Team All-Florida State honors in 2013 at St. Johns River State College  
 • Posted 8-2 record with 0.86 ERA (third-lowest nationally) in 62.2 IP
 • Fanned 47 while walking just 10 in 17 appearances (9 starts)
 • Will see action in the Pirate outfield and as a possible DH
 • Batted .328 with 13 doubles, 25 RBI and 32 runs as a sophomore at SJRSC

   

During the opening weekend, junior right-hander Tyler Bolton will get the call on Sunday and will compete with Junior College Transfer Reid Love for a spot in the weekend rotation as the season moves along. Bolton appeared in a career-best 10 games making two starts where he posted an 0-2 record with 7.36 ERA. Over the summer he was named the top prospect from the Coastal Plain League after going 5-0 with an 0.87 ERA, which ranked second in the CPL. He made eight starts fanning 49 batters while walking just 15.

As mentioned, Love will battle for a weekend spot in the rotation but has been named the midweek starter for the Pirates home contest against Campbell on Feb. 18. A two-year start for St. Johns River State College, Love sported an 8-5 record with a 1.43 ERA in 17 career games (nine starts). The left-hander enjoyed a solid sophomore season earning First-Team All-Florida State honors as a pitcher after going 8-2 with a 0.86 ERA, which ranked third in the nation. The Dunnellon, Fla. native will also see time in the designated hitter role as well as possible spot starts in the outfield.

The Pirates also have a number of options for midweek starts in freshmen RHP Davis Kirkpatrick (Greenville, N.C.) and LHP Evan Kruczynki (Franklin, Wisc.), as well as sophomore RHP Hayden White (Richmond, Va.). Possible midweek spot starts will come from senior right-handers Brett Mabry (Shelby, N.C.) and Ryan Williams (Morgan Hill, Calif.).