Texas A&M baseball is coming off a trip to the College World Series. Will the Aggies have the depth and talent to make it back to Omaha next year?
Texas A&M had a very young team in 2017 after having 13 players drafted last season in the 2016 MLB draft. The Aggies had four pitchers drafted, leaving the rotation and bullpen less dominant than they had been the previous two years. They only three guys who saw regular playing time in the field: Nick Choruby, Austin Homan and George Janca.
After losing so many players last season, the Aggies surprised a lot of people with how well they did. It was supposed to be a “rebuilding year”. Instead the Texas A&M baseball team has gained a lot of good experience by making it to the College World Series this season. That will definitely help next year.
The 2018 squad will have a lot more experience. A lot of young players saw quality playing time this season. The Aggies pitching staff will be stronger as well with juniors RHP Cason Sherrod and LHP Kaylor Chafin deciding to return for one more year of college baseball. Both of these players were selected in the 2017 MLB Draft but both turned it down to come back to Aggieland.
Why does the future look so good?
The future of Aggie Baseball looks bright. The best offensive player for the Aggies, Braden Shewmake, is returning for his sophomore season. Shewmake had a .328 batting average in 64 games played with 274 at bats on the year. The offensive and defensive showing by Shewmake earned him the NCBWA District VII Player of the Year. With Shewmake getting a year of SEC experience under his belt, he will do bigger and better things next year. Shewmake is going to continue his dominance on the offensive and defensive side of the field.
The Aggies signed eight pitchers in this years’ signing class, several of whom could pitch from the get-go. The staff will only continue to get better as they get more comfortable with their roles. Another weak spot for the Aggies seemed to be their inconsistency at the plate. The Aggies have six signees that the team’s recruiting coordinator, Justin Seely, feels can benefit the Aggies offense. Seely spoke highly of the competitiveness, speed and versatility of the 2018 class. Many of those that do make it to campus will compete for meaningful playing time.
Projecting the 2018 Starting Lineup
Looking at the returning players, I think the Aggies future line up will be:
Starting Rotation: Kaylor Chafin, Mitchell Kilkenny, and John Doxakis
Catcher: Cole Bedford
First Base: Chris Andristos/Hunter Coleman
Second Base: Jorge Gutierrez/Allonte Wingate
Third Base: George Janca
Shortstop: Braden Shewmake
Left Field: Coll Stanley
Center Field: Cam Blake
Right Field: Logan Foster
Designated Hitter: Hunter Coleman/Baine Schoenvogel
Chris Andristos and Hunter Coleman will be splitting time at first base partly due to the face that Andristos is also a RHP. He also swings a big bat. If/when he does get the opportunity to pitch the Aggies might forgo the designated hitter. When he is pitching I see Hunter Coleman playing first base.
I also see time being split at second base between Jorge Gutierrez and JUCO transfer Allonte Wingate. Wingate had a .350 batting average in 51 games played at Cisco Junior College, so his bat could be big for the Aggies this season.
Texas A&M knows what to expect now from SEC baseball and they are still hungry for that championship. The Aggies are ready to prove they can get back to Omaha. Texas A&M will have the talent to get back to the College World Series in 2018. Now we wait.
*All Stats and Information from 12thman.com, NJCAA.org*