Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gaucho Marks - April 9th edition

Baseball America Top 25 as of April 7
After a brief stint hitting leadoff, UCSB's Andrew Calica has settled back into hitting in the number six spot. Lately though, he has been struggling a bit going three for 25 over his last seven games with eight strikeouts and four walks. He is still hitting a very respectable .354 (well above the .307 team batting average) and has a .867 OPS, so it's not like the guy isn't contributing offensively. In fact, the Gauchos have gone 3-4 over that stretch and dropped to #22 in the Baseball America rankings so he is not alone in his struggles.

To put it in perspective though, the last three games (they went 1-2) were against Cal Poly who is currently ranked fourth in the country, so it's not like the games aren't tough either. It seems like the whole team is trying to find their groove again after their sizzling hot streak earlier in the year. Things don't get much easier as they head into a three game set this weekend with #18 Cal State Fullerton.

While Calica may still be finding his way at the plate a bit, he remains a stalwart in the field. In 78 total chances, he has still not made an error and showcased this talent late in a tight game last week against Hawaii. Clinging to a one run lead in the eighth, Hawaii loaded the bases with one out and then smacked a liner to our boy AC. Calica snagged it and then gunned out the foolish Rainbow Warrior who was trying to tag up from third. Double play, inning over.

He is also stealing bases at a steady rate when he does get on, putting constant pressure on opposing pitchers. So far this year, Calica has stolen nine bases in eleven attempts which is not bad at all. He's no Billy Hamilton (can you tell I'm a Reds fan??) or even Luis Jimenez (heh heh!) but still makes hurlers pay attention to him when he is on the pads.

  • Our boy Gabe Clark of the sixth ranked Oregon State Beavers is also having a down cycle and has started only two of the past seven games, going two for six. He has been used a couple of times as a pinch hitter but has yet to collect a hit in three at bats. The Beavers have gone 6-1 over this stretch and Clark's average has dropped to just below .300, but here's to hoping he is back in the lineup as a regular soon.
  • With a lot of future 'Cats on these highly-ranked teams, I suspect we will not be seeing a full roster until after the College World Series has concluded. All of our lads will stay with these teams until they are eliminated, which does, however, open the door for some of the 10-day contract dudes to strut their stuff.
  • One of those teams who will not be making a run into the College World Series is the Utah Utes, who have only won two of their last 15 games and are 11-19 overall. Pitcher Bret Helton has pitched twice since we last checked in on him and been chased early both times. In an 8-7 loss to Cal, Helton only went two and two thirds giving up seven hits and four runs (all earned) and most recently went four innings, again giving up seven hits and four runs (only two earned) while striking out one and walking four in those two starts. He has only had one recent plate appearance (as a pinch hitter) and did not register a hit.
  • Fellow Ute Wyler Smith has moved around in right and centre field and continues to get regular starts batting in the number four, five or six spot. Over the last seven games, he has hit only .185 (five for 27) but the good news is that after three hitless games, Smith has now hit safely in his last three games so appears to be headed in a positive direction.

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