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CBD Column: Change Surrounds Mizzou Baseball Program

As the Missouri Tigers are set to open fall play, it seems that most of the program is changing.

The small details, as in type of grass used in the infield and the design of the jerseys, are changing. The big details, as in the conference affiliation, have also changed.

But none of those changes compare to those that head coach Tim Jamieson faces as the Tigers begin fall ball, as he is charged with the responsibility of replacing over half of the starting lineup from the final game that last year’s Big 12 Championship squad fielded.

Specifically, Jamieson has a lot of work to do to replace the players in the middle of the field defensively for Mizzou. From last year’s final game’s starting lineup, he must replace catcher Ben Turner, Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player shortstop Eric Garcia, and center fielder Blake Brown.

The lone returnee from the middle of the field is second baseman Dillon Everett, but his offensive difficulties (.215/.336/.251) could lead to open competition for the spot in the fall.

Jamieson will also have to find answers on the mound, as the Tigers return just one proven starter from last season, junior Rob Zastryzny. Brandon Platts, John Miles, and Brett Graves, all sophomores, should vie for the two weekend spots that remain open in the absence of Eric Anderson, who will sit until he has recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Out of the bullpen, Mizzou must replace key contributors Jeff Emens and Dusty Ross. Emens was the long reliever last season for the Tigers and frequently put out rallies before they could really start. Ross tallied three saves after taking over ninth-inning duty from Jake Walsh mid-season.

Ryan Yuengel proved his worth out of the bullpen last year as a consistent arm, and his performance this season could be key as well. Second-round pick from the MLB Draft Alec Rash could also figure into the discussion of relievers.

The Tigers will also have to replace third baseman Conner Mach and first baseman/DH Andreas Plackis, who became a hot bat in the second half of last season.

More than a month of practices and games will surely bring some clarity for the Mizzou baseball program, but right now there are a lot of questions that need answers as the Tigers prepare for life in the SEC.

  • brandon weiss

    great article brandon – so proud of you :)

  • fred4945

    Brandon, this is not the full story. MU baseball is in deep doo doo.

    Over the past 5 years, MU has been to 3 regionals where they’ve won just 3 games (2 of them against mighty Monmouth and NM State). They haven’t been consistently strong in the Big 12, occasionally getting hot in the conference tournament.

    Missouri joins the SEC East. Over the same 5 years, the SEC East has had 2 teams win the College World Series titles, 3 others in the CWS championship game, and sent a total of 8 teams to the CWS. What year was MU last in the CWS? I think it was in the 1960s.

    How will new grass and a few other cosmetics make them competitive in this league?

    That’s the story.

    P.S. I was the KC Star’s student sports correspondent at Mizzou during the Dan Devine era. Tramp tramp tramp around the Columns.

    • Brandon Weiss

      Wasn’t saying it’s the full story, I have more to come in the Spring about where I think Mizzou will finish up next year. But the Tigers’ program’s strength in terms of the SEC isn’t really important at this point in time since the season is still 6 months away.

  • fred4945

    Brandon,

    Don’t you think an article, which is largely about a program’s future, should have some perspective?

    Do you really think it’s thorough reporting to spend 7 paragraphs talking about players who must be replaced without mentioning how & why playing in the SEC multiplies that challenge?

    My editors at the KC Star would never have let me get such an incomplete story past the copy desk.

    You aren’t suggesting, I hope, that readers should wait until Spring for you to give them the whole picture?