I can't recall any pre-season discussions where there were so few unanswered questions.
The 2018 Vaqueros baseball team is ready for the start of this season in Henderson Nevada, the opener against a Southern Nevada team that won the District finals against Central Arizona last year.
By winning two straight elimination games.
"I don't know what happened and I don't even want to think about it" said fourth year head baseball coach Anthony Gilich. "There was no reason for those losses."
Sometimes there aren't reasons, sometimes it's up to the baseball gods. Central came in to the finals steaming and needed just one win to reach the JUCU World Series, but no, Southern Nevada won twice, qualified, and got eliminated in two straight games.
The 2017 Vaqueros made it further than any Gilich team in his three years, but that doesn't matter. It's this year that the excitement of the team outlook has made it further than any of Gili's previous years. You couldn't shut the head coach up and that's a first.
"We recruited him so let's see what this guy can do" said Gilich. "And after the fall baseball, I don't see a game where we don't have him at the top of the lineup."
Brennan Reback, a freshman outfielder from Vernon Hills, Illinois.
"He hit three or four homeruns in the fall, he's fast, and he puts the defense in a bind because they don't know where to play him. He can lay one down anytime and beat it out, or he can smash one right by your ear. Maybe he's the fastest kid in the league."
So there's that.
"Daniel Cervantes is just raking everything" continued Gilich. "He's hitting everything everywhere. The ball just comes off his bat different. Even his singles are rockets." Cervantes is a freshman who can play anywhere, probably outfield.
"We'll be really good in the infield defensively, Brett Harris can really play, he's a third baseman, plus, he's always on base. We have two outstanding shortstops in Ernny Ordonez and Reagan Teegarden. Ernny was tearing the cover off the ball in the fall and can cover some ground, and so was Reagan. Reagan is very quick and sure-handed. Seems like it all comes so easy to him."
"We have Devin Ray back and he can play short pretty well, but he'll be mostly at his natural position at second. Liam Spence is here and he's one of our better defenders and he can play second and third, Alix Garcia will be back at first. We're excited about Josh Dudden in our infield also."
Dudden had a surgery in the fall and I'm told he'll be more than ready. The Gilich coached baseball teams never really seem to have a starting catcher, just a very strong rotation of three.
"We have Oregon transfer Matt Dyer who is potentially the best player in the league, he's skinny and 6'4" with this huge arm and he's fast. He's just behind Reback and Clayton Keyes in terms of speed. Chris Diehl is another one, he keeps answering the bell. No matter what the competition, the kid keeps improving. He went from a four to a one last year as a freshman."
Diehl's father is a fan of The Who. There you go.
Thought? I can see Jake Vander Wal putting up MVP numbers and being selected all conference.
Said Gilich: "Our pitching will be really good this year. But even better next year actually. We have several freshman. They're all 88-91 and can pitch, and our walks will be down. We're looking for quick innings this year. Nick Trogerlic-Iverson had a fantastic fall and gets better and better and today he's our 1 starter. He jumped from around 88 to up to 93 MPH this year. Jason Nelson will be our number two. He throws a nice 3/4 with a ton of run and he saws 'em off. Hitters can't figure out why the ball never hits the barrel."
Grady Miller will be the number three starter and in the fourth spot, Jordan Suarez, RJ Dabovich, and Jacob Hilton will get great looks, and whichever of those three that doesn't start could be first out of the pen.
"Julio Astacio and Joe Standley will be counted on, and we're very happy with Matt Dalke late in the game. We have Luis Tellechea back, and two new guys we will count on in Junior Dominguez and Avery Jones, three we really like in the pen because they throw strikes."
Last year's theme was "we have to find ways to win games like this." Central couldn't score very well with soooo many missed opportunities in the RISP department. This year it seems like the Vaqueros will have more power and will be out of the gate much quicker.
New look this year. Look for your 2018 Vaqueros in "shorties". All pants will be knee level. With stirrups.