With all the snow on the ground recently it doesn’t seem the right time to start talking about baseball. But it is on the campus of Western Oklahoma State College.
The Pioneers open their season on Tuesday when they host Wayland Baptist University in a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
Western is looking to rebound from a disappointingly end to its 2013 season in which it was the first time they had not reached the World Series since 2008.
The prospects for this season are promising. Here’s a breakdown of the ball club.
At the top of the rotation is Keven Torres 6-1, 180, Soph, from New York, N.Y. who was 10-0 in his freshman year. He will sign with St. John’s University in the next signing period. “I feel like he is one of the best guys we have had,” Russell said. “He’s real consistent and pounds the zone, a good leader.”
Josh James, 6-3, 200 pound sophomore from Hollywood. Fla. will hold down the number two spot. “He probably has the best chance to be our highest draft pick because of our prototype,” Russell said. “He has a good arm, throws strikes, a three pitch guy, developing a cutter. I think he is going to be a big guy for us.”
Jordan Scott, 6-3, 180, Fr., Atlanta, Ga., will be in the number three slot. Russell said he thinks Scott has a chance to be a top of the rotation pitcher by the end of the year. He’s being compared to former Western pitcher, Casey Sadler who is now pitching in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. “I think he can be a big time guy,” Russell said.
Rounding out the rotation is Jerry Then, 6-2, 190, Dominican Republic. He throws 90-95 range.
A starter/bullpen pitcher will be Ricardo Parra, 5-8, 180, Bronx, N. Y. He has a power curve ball and throws in the 89-93 range. ” He has a chance to be really good,” Russell said.
Anthony Alicki, 6-2,200, Fr.; Aneuris Rodriguez, 6-0, 155 soph., New York, N.Y. ; John Pena, 6-0, 200, soph., New York, N.Y.; Quinton Williams, 6-0,175, Fr. (left hander), a sidearm-er from Curacao; Garbin Villar, 6—0, 160, New York, N. Y will all have big roles in the bullpen.
The setup and closer roles go to Bernard Gardner, 5-9, 170, Fr., New York, N.Y. and Ruddy Estrella, 5-7, 165, Fr., New York, N.Y..
Felix Frias returns for his sophomore year after receiving a medical red shirt. He is still recovering from shoulder surgery and could join the rotation.
Pretty much all of the pitchers can throw 90 mph and above. Because there are a lot of single nine inning games on the schedule Russell has decided to go with a four-man rotation instead of a five.
This position is in the capable hands of Alnardo Rodriguez, 6-1, 220, soph., who earned third team All-American honors as a freshman, He hit over .400 with 12 home runs.
Ceasar Figueroa, 6-1, 180, Dominican Republican, returns after sitting out last season because of a shoulder injury. He will hit out of the three hole and Russell considers him one of the better players in the country.
Tony Nunez, 5-9, 165, 5-0, 165, soph., New York, N. Y., a transfer from Hillboro, Fla. has a chance to be a special player according to Russell. So special he believes that outside of former Western shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who is the Atlanta Braves shortstop, he is the best the Pioneers have had.
Marlor Villafana, 6-3, 220, Fr. Dominican Republic, Carries a bug bat and may be drafted at the end of the year.
The front runner right now is Robert De La Hoz,6-1, 200, Soph., New York, N.Y. He will split time with Alex Lugo, 5-11, 200, Chicago.
Jose Fortuna, 5-11, 180, Lynn, Mass., returns for his sophomore year. He spent the off-season in Canada and played on a team that won the collegiate summer league championship. Dylan Warner, 6-0, 190, Fr., Lawton, should see playing time there also.
Randy Rodriguez, 5=9, 180, returns for his sophomore year ” I look for Randy to have a big year,” Russell said.
Justin Ellison, 6-2, 170, Fr., Columbus, Ga. is promising candidate to play in the outfield.
Anjelvl Estevez, 6-2, 190, Dominican Republic, will get the call at this position.
Cedeno, Andujar, 6-3, 200, Fr.,, should see playing time in the outfield.
Foster Ford, 6-1, 185, Trophy Club, Texas, will begin the season as the DH.
The outlook is good even though Russell is not doing a lot of talking. He does say the Pioneers need to prove themselves once again. He put them through harder workouts through the fall.
However, have all the ingredients to make back to the World Series.. “The pieces are all there,” Russell said.
Name, position, ht-wt, home town, yr.
Anthony Alicky, P, 6-2, 200, Milford, Ct., Fr.
Cedeno Andujar, OF, 6-3, 200, Dominican Republic, Fr.
Robert De La Hoz, C,New, N.y., soph.
Justin Ellison, OF, 6-2, 170, Columbus, Ga., Fr.
Anjelvl Esteves, OF-1B, 6-2, 190, Dominican Republic
Rudy Estrella, P, 5-7, 165, New York, N.Y., Fr.
Ceasar Figueroa, SS-2B-P, 6-1, 190, Domincan Republic, Soph.
Travor Flores, C-2B, 5-11, 180, Frederick, Ok., Fr.
Foster Ford, 2B, OF, 6-1, 185, Trophy Club, Texas, Fr.
Jose Fortuna, OF-2B, 5-11, 190, Lynn, Mass., Soph.
Felix Frias, P, 6-1, 185, Lawrence, Mass., Soph.
Bernard Gardner, P, 5-9, 170, New York, N.Y., Fr.
Joshua James, P, 6-3, 200, Hollywood, Fla., Soph.
Reggie Lindsay, OF-P, 6-3, 175, Bradenton, Fla., Fr.
Alex Lugo, C-1B, 5-11, 200, Chicago, Ill, Fr.
Christian Malave, P-2B, 6-0, 210, Milford, Ct., Fr.
Matt Martin, C, 5-9, 180, Blair, Ok., Fr.
William Morra, 1B-DH, 6-0, 230, New York, N.Y., Fr.
Luis Motta, 1B-DH, 6-0, 220, New York, N. Y., Fr.
Martin Nolasco, P, 6-1, 170, Philadelphia, Pa., Soph.
Tony Nunez, ss, 5-9, 165, New York, N.Y., Soph.
Ricardo Parra, P, 5-11, 180, Bronx, N. Y., Fr.
John Pena, P, 6-0, 200, New York, N.Y., Soph.
Jaseth Richards, OF-P, 6-1, 190, Fall Rivers, Ma., Fr.
Alnardo Rodriguez, 1B, 6-1, 220, New York, N.y., Soph.
Aneuris Rodriguez, P, 6-0, 155, New York, N.Y., Soph.
Randy Rodriguez, OF-SS-2B, 5-9, 180, New York, N.Y., Soph.
Windsor Sanchez, C, 5-11, 220, New York, N.Y., Soph.
Jordan Scott, P, 6-3, 180, Atlanta, Ga.,Fr.
Jerry Then, P, 6-2, 190, Dominican Republic, Soph.
Kevin Torres, P, 6-1, 180, New York, N.Y., Soph.
Starling Valera, ss, 5-11, New York, N.Y., Fr.
Yostty Vargas, P, 6-2, 190, Dominincan Republic, Fr.
Marlor Villafana, 3b-2B, 6-3, 205, Domincan Republic, Fr.
Garbin Villar, P, 6-0, 160, New York, N.Y., Fr.
Dylan Warner, OF, 6-0, 190, Lawton, Fr.
Quinton Williams, P. 6-0, 175, Curacao, Fr.
Anthony Young, OF, 6-0, 170, Columbus, Ga., Fr.