College Baseball Daily continues our countdown to the start of the 2011 College Baseball season by checking in on the Top 100 Players in the country. We will be providing one player per day until we reach number 1.
We continue the countdown today at number 36 with Long Beach State RHP Andrew Gagnon. The Northridge, California, native attended Liberty High School in Brentwood where he earned four letters in baseball. Gagnon struggled as the Sunday starter for the Dirtbags as a Freshman in 2009, going just 3-7 on the season, though he showed moments of brilliance that signaled hope for the future.
In his first start of his career at USC, Gagnon earned a no-decision by throwing 5 innings of work, giving up 5 hits and only one earned run in a 5-4 victory. He earned the first win of his career at South Carolina two weeks later, again going 5 innings while striking out 7. Gagnon gave up almost 12 hits per 9 innings in an up and down 2009, but showed signs of improvement over the offseason, which led him earning the Friday starter spot over 2010 2nd round draft pick Jake Thompson part way through theseason.
Though the Dirtbags finished in the cellar of the Big West in 2010, Gagnon was much improved on the mound. He let far less runners on board, improving his WHIP from 1.64 to 1.22, while dropping his BAA almost 100 points from .327 to .230. He nearly cut his ERA in half, going from 6.32 in 2009 to 3.28 in 2010, resulting in being named 2nd Team All-Big West Conference. In a down year for the Dirtbags, Gagnon went 5-7 in 15 starts, highlighted by a 3-hit complete game effort against Washington, 8 innings of shutout baseball in a loss against Pacific, a career high 12 strikeouts against Wichita State, and a complete game win against Cal-State Northridge.
Gagnon continued his positive momentum in the Cape Cod League this past Summer playing for the Brewster Whitecaps. Gagnon led the Cape Cod League with 5 wins and only 1 loss, striking out 43 batters in 38.2 innings pitched, and sporting an impressive 2.10 ERA. His best performance came in a 7-inning complete game shutout against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, striking out 9 batters in the process. He followed that effort with consecutive 8 strikeout wins, leading him to be named the starter for the East team in the 2010 Cape Cod All-Star Game. With former pitching coach Troy Buckley now at the helm of the Dirtbags, we expect Gagnon to impress in 2011.
You can check out the rest of our Top 100 by clicking here.