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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Operation: Omaha

Texas+A%26M+Baseball
Texas A&M Baseball

Texas A&M lost four starting position players and its two best starting pitchers from last year’s College World Series team, but enter 2018 with plenty of depth and talent still on the roster.
Even though not a single senior is set to crack the starting lineup or weekend rotation at the beginning of the season, the Aggies still look like an experienced team that is built for success.
“When you look at us on paper you would still consider us a young team, but I don’t think we feel that way as a coaching staff, based on the experience that we have back,” head coach Rob Childress said. “It was a very competitive fall and I feel like from a depth and talent standpoint we’re every bit as good as we were last year, if not better.”
A&M relied heavily on its freshmen last year — most notably the trio of Braden Shewmake, Logan Foster and Hunter Coleman — and that class has only improved with another full college off-season under its belt.
“They’ve all made leaps and bounds to get better, if that was even possible,” said senior pitcher Kaylor Chafin, who went 7-2 with a team-best 2.33 ERA last year. “The way that they stepped in last year was awesome, but they’ve taken ownership of the team a lot more. They did their time, and now they’re setting the example.”
In the infield, Shewmake is moving over to shortstop to fill the void left by Austin Homan, junior George Janca returns at third base to complete with what should be a dynamic left side of the infield and junior Cole Bedford is back behind the plate. 

Michael Helman and Allonte Wingate, both transfers from junior colleges, and true freshman Zach Deloach, all expect to make it into the opening day starting lineup. However, the positions they will play are still to be determined. Returning utility man and senior Baine Schoenvogel has worked at a corner outfield spot throughout the preseason and will compete for a starting spot as well.  

Oklahoma transfer Chris Andritsos is eligible to play in 2018, as he and freshman Will Frizzell are challenging Coleman for the first base job. Two of those three will likely start, with one at first and the other at designated hitter. 

“The players are the ones who write the lineups,” Childress said. “At the end of the day it’s how they perform. That’s the great thing about depth — there are no days off. Even in practice you’d better bring it.”

On the mound, the Aggie coaching staff is still trying to figure out whether to use Chafin as a starter or a reliever. He was superb in a long relief role in 2017, but the coaches are still not sure where he is most valuable. 

Stephen Kolek and John Doxakis will get a crack at the weekend rotation, as well as Mitchell Kilkenny who flourished last year after he was moved to the bullpen.

Childress, who serves as the Aggies’ pitching coach, likes the fact that he has a good mix of lefties and righties on his staff. 

“I’m excited for the balance,” Childress said. “Certainly a very, very talented group, but from a balance standpoint of being able to match up and make moves, I think that’s something we haven’t always had. Maybe more chess moves at the end of a game. That’s always fun, especially when it works.”

There are a host of freshmen pitchers capable of making immediate contributions. Dustin Saenz, Chandler Jozwiak and Asa Lacy are all potentially dominant lefties, and righty Jack Conlon was picked in the fourth round of last summer’s MLB Draft. 

“We have an unreal freshman class that just came in,” Foster said. “We’ve got some guys that can swing the stick and some guys that can absolutely throw it on the mound. I’m excited to see what they do when the bell rings.”

The Aggies open the season with a three-game home series against Rhode Island starting on Feb. 16. 

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