Michigan Baseball unofficially kicked off its 2020 campaign and quest to get back to the College World Series on Sunday in Ann Arbor with a team scrimmage and media day to get things rolling on the new season.
The team spent some time outdoors in the cold for a bit taking fly balls and warming up before moving inside to Oosterbaan Field House for a controlled scrimmage.
Ever wonder what an indoor baseball scrimmage looks like? pic.twitter.com/qimHRoutns— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) February 9, 2020
We will have more coverage leading up to Friday’s opener against Vanderbilt, which is a rematch of the College World Series final. For now, here are some odds and ends takeaways and tidbits from Sunday’s event in a snowy Ann Arbor.
- The Wolverines will also take on Cal Poly, Arizona State and Connecticut this upcoming weekend in Arizona. Junior pitcher Jeff Criswell (7-1, 2.58 ERA in 2019) is expected to get the start in the season opener on Friday and head coach Erik Bakich confirmed he will be the team’s Friday pitcher this year. Other probable/possible starters include redshirt freshman Steven Hajjar, redshirt sophomore Ben Dragani and redshirt freshman Isaiah Page.
- Junior outfielder Jesse Franklin (.285/.387/.473 in 2019) will be out until mid-March while dealing with an injury to start the season. Bakich told the media on Sunday that they have not yet determined who will get the start in center field, but a projected lineup on Sunday shows Christian Bullock (.263/.385/.407) in center and Dominic Clementi in right. Nothing has been determined to this point.
- Bakich said that junior Jordan Nwogu (.321/.435/.557) will be playing left field this season and that he likes him hitting leadoff due to the desire to get him the most possible at-bats this season, though he is open to the idea of moving him down in the order.
- Below is what Michigan put out as the probable starters ahead of this weekend’s action.
Kicking off the 2020 @umichbaseball season today from a cold and snowy Ann Arbor. Team will scrimmage today with some media day stuff afterwards before heading out to Arizona this weekend. pic.twitter.com/rKaDQIuvOb— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) February 9, 2020
- Bakich says that true freshman Jimmy Obertop will certainly factor into the lineup early on and he likes the power that he brings to the lineup. At this point, he projects to bat a little lower in the lineup to start the season.
- Bakich and players said that one of the mantras for the offseason has been “one more.” The Wolverines fell a game short of the national championship last season and say they are using that as motivation. Whether it be one more rep, one more pitch, one more at-bat, this is a group that says they are focused on improvement and the task at hand every day.
- Ako Thomas, one of the key parts of last season’s team, will be on the coaching staff this year as a student assistant. The Wolverines have also added Max Gordon, who is the hitting coordinator for Driveline Baseball, as a volunteer assistant to the staff.
- The Wolverines have 36 players from 14 states on this season’s team. Eight players are from California and seven are from Michigan. Illinois (5), Wisconsin (4), Georgia (2), Indiana (2), Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
- Michigan will play about the first month of games in warm weather areas like Florida, California and Arizona before making their 2020 home debut the weekend of March 13-15 in a four-game set with Canisius at Ray Fisher Stadium.
- Michigan fans that also root for the Detroit Tigers may want to tune in this weekend, as the matchups that the Wolverines are involved in could be the first look at potential future fixtures for the organization. Friday night’s game against Vanderbilt will see them taking on third baseman Austin Martin and Saturday’s evening bout against Arizona State features first basemen Spencer Torkelson. Both players are expected to be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, which is owned by the Tigers. The Wolverines may also see Kumar Rocker pitch for Vanderbilt on Friday, who could potentially be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft class.
We will have more from Bakich and players throughout the week, so stay tuned there. We’re excited to be covering Michigan Baseball in this capacity for the first time and it coincides with a high point for the program coming off of last year’s run. This games are hard to find, but we’ll do our best to help you follow along throughout the year.
The good news is that this Friday’s game will be televised nationally on MLB Network at 7 p.m. ET as they take on Vanderbilt.