Texas Tech 2017 Preseason Preview
By: RC Maxfield
2016 was a great year for the Red Raiders baseball team. They made their 2nd appearance in the College World Series in the past 3 years but, they also lost a lot of talent due to the MLB draft and graduation. The Red Raiders though, are moving forward and onward into the 2017 season with what looks to be one of the harder schedules in the country. The schedule won’t be easy by any stretch but, having two top of the rotation sophomores returning in Davis Martin and Stephan Gingery won’t hurt. Both Martin and Gingery were Freshman All-Americans last year and were predominately the Friday and Saturday night starters for the Red Raiders. Pitching will be the difference maker this season if the Red Raiders wish to go back to Omaha again. Replacing Seniors Cory Raley, Tyler Neslony and Eric Gutierrez and Junior Stephen Smith will be no easy task for coach Tim Tadlock and crew but, that’s what Tech is up against this season. The lone returning top of the order bat is Tanner Gardner who hit .379 last year with a .484 OBP and .549 SLG. He will be the key to the Techs offense this year as well as the maturation of 2nd baseman Michael Davis and now 1st baseman Hunter Hargrove. Davis and Hargrove will try and fill some of the shoes left behind by the graduating seniors. Davis hit a respectable .268 last year considering it was his first full season as a starter. He will need to cut back on strikeouts and put the ball in play more to give himself and Tech a chance to succeed. Hargrove has been moved all over the field his first 3 years here at Tech but, he looks to be the guy Coach Tadlock has chosen to take over at 1st for Gutierrez. Hargrove has always been a respectable hitter but never has had the chance to have a full season of at bats. In 2016 he hit .305 in 105 plate appearance. He will look to continue that success throughout a full season of at bats in the middle of the order for Tech.
As for the new guys a lot of them were highly recruited and even some were drafted but decided to come to Lubbock. Some such as Ulysses Cantu, Dustin May and JD Murders, signed with the respective teams that drafted them but, Coach Tadlock still brings a Top 25 recruiting class to Lubbock. The freshman coming in should have plenty of opportunities to play this year but none probably more so than John McMillon. He was drafted in the 21st round by the Rays but decided to come to Lubbock. He is a versatile player that can play OF, C, INF and RHP. He is a power hitter who Tadlock loves and he might just take the starting RF spot this spring. Another freshman that could have a strong impact on Red Raiders is John Henry Gonzalez. In his senior year at Edinburg High School he had a 0.11era and 110 strikeouts in 63innings. He is the bat missing pitcher Coach Tadlock loves and will use out of the bullpen.
When it comes down to it for Texas Tech this season, pitching and defense is what is going to win games. Losing 4 of the top 5 hitters in your lineup isn’t going to be easy to replace. By having a young loaded pitching staff this team is going to have to grind out games and make very few mistakes defensively. Tech teams in the past have been known for their offense but this year is quite different. If Tech can find some players to not fill the entire void left by the seniors and drafted guys but just do enough then, the pitching staff will keep them in a lot of games. This Tech team is very talented and will compete for a Big 12 title because of their pitching staff. When all is said, and done, Tech should be right there with TCU and Oklahoma State competing for the Big 12 crown and possibly a spot in Omaha at the College World Series.
- Davis Martin (RHP)
- Stephen Gingery (LHP)
- Erikson Lanning (LHP)
- Ryan Shetter (RHP)