Monday, April 27, 2015

Staj lighting up the Mountain West

Carl Stajduhar is having a fantastic freshman year at the University of New Mexico. 

Stajduhar (30) bumps elbows with old friend Danny Collier (43)
In 42 starts this season, the Fort Collins Colorado native has shown he definitely belongs on an NCAA Division 1 roster. All he’s done so far is hit .320 with 5 home runs, and 38 RBI. His is an impressive stat package all-round. While he started slow, he’s been picking up speed – and hits – over the past month to raise his average forty points in that time frame. This past weekend, while the rest of the Lobos were struggling against a tough Wichita State team and losing all three games, Staj was on fire, going 7-13 with 4 runs batted in. Consistency is a key with this kid – he’s hit safely in 31 of 42 games, and is currently riding a 13 game hitting streak. He goes to the plate looking to hit, not walk – he has only a single free pass in his last 17 games, and only 10 the entire year. Really looking forward to seeing what he can do hitting in the three spot in front of Gabe the Babe this year!

Other HarbourCat Notables making news:

We have lost a UNM Lobo (and a familiar face) since the last update…  P Carson Schneider is taking the summer off to “rest his arm”. Not sure what that means, because since that announcement, he’s been moved from regular starter to a middle-to-late relief lefty (which is his strength), and has gone back to pitching light’s out. He’s given up only a single hit in 9.1 innings across 4 games since. Seems like his arm is doing just fine. We could have used that kind of consistency coming out of the pen!  

That makes 4 of the 6 LHPs that had been signed for 2015 who are no longer coming north this year.

Preston Ryan still has his ticket for the west coast though. He’s continuing to  get consistent work out of the UNM pen in middle inning short relief. There he’s shown signs of brilliance, mixed in with the odd tough inning.  In his eight appearances in April, he’s held opponents hitless 5 times, while getting rocked for a 2 and a 3 run inning. Keeps his ERA around the 4.50 mark, but certainly shows potential. Overall, Ryan has improved significantly from this point last year and should bring that extra experience and confidence North with him.

In San Diego, we have also lost our Toreros since the last update (and yes, I have looked under the couch)!  As reported last week, CF Kacy Smith and RHP Seve Romo are no longer planning to join us this summer. Smith is an interesting case – he had a great college career before switching to San Diego, but hadn’t been playing much this year. Turns out, he’s also an accomplished football star as well, and has a legitimate shot at being the starting safety for USD this coming season. Given that opportunity, he has decided to focus on the odd-shaped ball this summer. We wish Kacy all the luck in his sport of choice. Don't sell your Romo jersey just yet though...

At this point, that leaves us with one pseudo-Torereo in OF Kevin Collard. Still in high school, Collard has signed with USD for the fall - but he may not make it there as he’s being talked about quite frequently in MLB draft discussions. He could get drafted this summer, which means we may have another Nick Pivetta situation on our hands - he may be in town for a couple games, then get drafted and pulled away, or he make take the summer off to prepare. If he does play here, his impressive numbers could help get the 2015 ball rolling in a big way.

And speaking of impressive numbers, I’ll predict right now that Pepperdine’s Ryan Wilson will be 2015’s ace on the mound for the HarbourCats. Wilson has continued his consistent season for the Wave, upping his record to 7-1 while maintaining a respectable 3.25 ERA. His control is outstanding, walking batters at a pace of about 1 every 3 or so innings. That control will go nicely with a burger and side of fries on Pembroke this summer.

As the college season draws to a close in the coming weeks, watch for more player movement, likely a few more no-show announcements due to signings, changed plans, and injuries. It's all expected in Summer leagues - teams that do well are those who are able to adjust and pick up top replacements to fill the departed holes. Like watching the waiver wire in your hockey pool for a late-season rookie, sometimes it's more about luck and being in the right place at the right time. Stay tuned...

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