The College Baseball Blog is committed to bringing our readers some insight from coaches from around the coaches. We start our series of interviews with Kent State’s Scott Stricklin. He is entering his fifth season in charge of the program. He made the MAC Championship game in 2008 while making the NCAA Tourney in 2007.
1. Kent State is coming off a 36-21 campaign while going 16-8 in the MAC. The Golden Flashes made the championship game of the MAC but ended up losing to Eastern Michigan. This season you return Greg Rohan who was named as the 2008 MAC Player of the Year and Ben Klafczynski who was named to many Freshman All-American teams. After fall workouts, Who else has made the biggest improvement during fall workouts?
We have a lot of players returning this season and we feel like our depth is as good as it has ever been at every position. Along with Greg and Ben, we have Anthony Gallas and Chris Tremblay who we feel will garner some post season attention this year. As far as a few guys who we feel made a big jump this fall, Jared Humprheys showed he can play 2nd base as well as the outfield and really improved his approach at the plate. Jason Patton had an outstanding fall at the plate after struggling a bit last spring. We feel Jason could give us some more power from the left side in the middle of the line up. Alan Morrison also had a great fall on the mound after a tough spring.
2. The pitching staff will be led by juniors Kyle Smith (9-1, 5.76 ERA) and Brad Stillings (4-7, 5.35 ERA) but will need to replace Chris Carpenter (6-2, 3.81 ERA). Who do you expect to fill the third spot in the rotation?
We are looking for Jon Pokorny to make the jump from the bullpen into the starting rotation this spring. Jon was outstanding for us last year out of the bullpen and he was used as a starter for Fairbanks in the Alaskan League this summer. We also have Morrison, Steven Ross, and Kyle Hallock who will push to be in our rotation.
3. Have any of your incoming freshmen impressed you during Fall Workouts? Do you see any of them breaking into the starting lineup/rotation this season?
We had a number of freshman step up this fall for us. Travis Shaw showed a lot of promise from the left side and hit for power. Jim Rider was very impressive defensively in the middle of the infield and showed he could handle the bat. David Lyon flashed some great catch and throw skills behind the plate and proved he can be a switch hitter at this level. On the mound, Andrew Chafin was dominating. He pitched in the 88-91 range and has a knockout slider. We feel he could our closer this year. All of these freshman will get significant playing time this spring.
4. Over the last few years, we have seen the growth of the summer leagues. How do you decide where your players get assigned for the summer?
We ask the kids where they want to play and then try to find a place for them. We have relationships with a team or two in just about every league and we try to spread our players around that way.
5. Last season we saw the implementation of the Uniform Start Date. What are your early impressions on it? Did you think it has leveled the playing field?
I think it leveled the playing field to an extent. It really didn’t change anything for us but now the teams in the south and the west have to play more midweek games. You can look at it from a couple of different perspectives but my feeling is that if we want this sport to grow nationally, we need to all be playing within the same parameters.
6. With the removal of the one-time transfer exemption that allowed student-athletes to change schools once without having to sit out a red-shirt year, do you feel that there is more pressure on a coach to recruit with responsibility or for the student-athlete to be aware of what programs are the best fit for them?
There is no question. I think that in the past, players were choosing a school with the thought that if it didn’t workout, he could always transfer. Coaches were also using this to run players off. The new transfer rule really puts an emphasis on the student athlete making the right decision on which school to attend and the coaching staff choosing their players wisely.
The College Baseball Blog would like to thank Scott for checking in with us for the third straight year. If any more coaches or SID’s are interested in doing a similar interview feel free to email us by clicking here.