Takeaways From UL Baseball Media Day
It's about that time ladies and gentleman, my absolute favorite time of the year, baseball season. The 2019 Ragin' Cajuns baseball season is right around the corner as they open the season at home against the University of Texas February 15th.
On Tuesday, it was media day for the baseball program and you got an opportunity to hear from Head Coach Tony Robicheaux, shortstop Hayden Cantrelle, starting pitcher Gunner Leger, and outfielder/first baseman Daniel Lahare. You can watch the Robe presser here.
- The injuries that they had from last season aren't a factor to begin 2019-Gunner Leger, Handsome Monica, Jack Burke, and TCU transfer pitcher Dalton Horton are all healthy according to coach.
- This year's team is really young from the pitching side (seven freshman pitchers). The coaches will have to work to grow up their freshman pitchers and having a veteran infield will really help in their maturing process.
- They're going to have to rebuild the bullpen with their young arms and it's a difficult thing to do to convert young pitchers who came out of high school starters. It's a completely different animal having to come out of the pen rather than starting a game and being asked to pitch 5+ innings.
- If Gunner is healthy enough he'll be the Friday night starter with the junior transfer from Howard JC Brandon Young will be the Saturday starter. Young is 6'6" and 210lbs, very Nick Lee like. For Young, his first season at Howard JC was a brilliant one, he was 8-3, struck out 74 batters in 64.1 innings pitched, and was named to the All-Conference team in 2017. In 2018 he threw 21.1 innings, struck out 34 batters. The Sunday and midweek starters are still TBD.
- Austin Bradford, a junior transfer from LSUE is a candidate to fill the closer role.
- This team should finally have some depth at the catcher position. Handsome Monica, who Robe called one of the teams Alpha males, is back from injury, Kole McKinnon got a ton of good experience and carried the position group for every single inning last season, and they've added a junior transfer, Sebastian Toro from Seminole State.
- The team has shown a better job of being patient, working counts, and getting on base which will be huge for this team. He mentions that this team has more overall speed on it and that he doesn't concern himself with batting average.
- There is a ton of outfield depth with guys returning and guys they've brought in. Returners: Gavin Bourgeois, Todd Lott, Daniel Lahare, Tremaine Spears. Newcomers: Brennan Breaux, Jordan Wiley, Orynn Veillon, Colton Frank.
- He's been voted as one of the leadership group, the youngest of the group (Cantrelle, Gunner Leger, Handsome Monica, Hunter Kasuls).
- He said he worked a lot this off-season to get healthier, stronger, and tougher mentally. Last season he said he was feeling a bit light and not as strong as when he started the season. This is important for a young player to build upon maturity mentally and physically from year one to year two.
- His main goal this season is to do whatever it takes to help this team win.
- There isn't much depth behind him and second baseman Hunter Kasuls so they both need to stay healthy this season for the Cajuns to have a successful season.
- The maturity level of this team is higher than last year despite all the young pitchers. That makes sense when you were missing two of your biggest leaders from a year ago.
- The journey coming back from his leg and arm surgeries wasn't as grueling as he thought it was going to be. However, he mentioned that for about a month after his surgeries he was really down about where he was health-wise but because of it he feels as though it made him better and stronger to go through that adversity.
- He's up to about 60-65 pitches off the mound. This is good to hear but don't expect him to come out and throw like he was throwing in 2017. He said so himself when I asked him how his stuff was coming along. He mentioned that coach Robe doesn't have a radar gun so he's not sure how his m.p.h is coming along but feels his velo coming back, his command has been a little spotty but he's just focused on being healthy and getting back on the bump.
- This team reminds Gunner of his freshman year with all the young pitchers ready to make a mark and get opportunities.
- He'll be used more at first base this season with all the depth in the outfield and with a slight tear of his labrum in his shoulder.
- Not to worry, he's played first before but not on a consistent basis since sophomore year of high school.
- He's excited to be working with new hitting coach Jake Wells who isn't huge on mechanics but emphasizes the mental approach at the plate and how to adjust your plan pitch to pitch.
- He said he plans on stealing more bases this season, walking more, getting on base for the guys in the middle of the order and making things happen for his teammates.
All in all this team is pretty balanced this year with nine freshmen, 10 sophomores, 12 juniors, and 10 seniors.
There is a lot of local flavor on this team with 26 players from Louisiana, seven from Texas and one from Georgia Oklahoma, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, and Puerto Rico.
Should be a fun 2019 Ragin' Cajuns Baseball season.