Baseball players prep for future via draft, summer league

Last season, the Tech baseball team enjoyed a successful season that consisted of 47 wins and an opportunity to host a portion of the NCAA tournament. The team featured a number of quality players, and 10 of those players were drafted in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.

Nine of those 10 players will not return to the Tech team next season and will join MLB team’s farm systems.

Senior pitcher Kevin Jacob will return to the Jackets after being taken in the 18th round by the New York Yankees. An injury made Jacob’s stock drop, so Jacob will return to Tech and try to get drafted higher next season.

The most notable loss for the Jackets is pitcher Deck McGuire, who was selected eleventh overall by the Toronto Blue Jays. After negotiating his contract, McGuire signed a minor league deal with Toronto with a $2 million signing bonus. He was the first Tech pitcher to be selected in the first round under the tutelage of Manager Danny Hall.

Even though Tech lost some talent, they do return several key parts to this year’s team. Some of those players decided to play in the Cape Cod Summer Baseball League in the offseason.

Last year, junior pitcher Jed Bradley was Tech’s second starting pitcher behind McGuire. Bradley started 16 games for the Jackets and posted a 9-5 record. He had a high ERA at 4.83, but he was able to pitch many innings, throwing a total of 91.1.

Bradley built on his strong season as a Tech starter in the summer league, going 2-3 with a 1.98 ERA. Bradley only pitched 41 innings for the Wareham Gatemen, but he managed to lead the entire league in strikeouts with 44.

Bradley’s strong showing in the summer earned him a spot on the Western Division team’s roster for the 2010 All-Star Game. In the game, Bradley pitched one perfect inning of relief and struck out one batter. Joining Bradley on the Wareham Gatemen is junior relief pitcher Jake Davies.

Davies performed well out of the bullpen for the Jackets last season, making 17 appearances. The southpaw posted a 3.52 ERA, but he did not lose a game all season (2-0) and batters were only hitting .268 against him.

Davies also had a strong showing for the Wareham Gatemen bullpen with a 2.38 ERA. Davies also performed well at the plate, hitting two doubles and four RBIs in only 26 at bats. His numbers helped earn him a spot in the Cape Cod home run derby.

Junior third baseman Matt Skole also competed in a home run derby this offseason, finishing third in the 2010 AmeriTrade College Home Run Derby.

Skole was a force at the plate for the Jackets last season, hitting .335 with 20 home runs and 63 RBIs. The 6-foot-4-four left-hander will most likely replace Tony Plagman in the middle of Tech’s lineup next season.

Skole also managed to drive in runs for the Falmouth Commodores this summer. Skole only hit .245 but managed to keep his slugging percentage high with his 11 doubles and three home runs.

Skole also has a Tech teammate playing with him this summer in sophomore pitcher Mark Pope.

Pope was the mid-week starter for the Jackets last season as a true freshman and was a key player down the stretch.

Pope had a great freshman season for Tech going 8-1 with a 3.78 ERA. Pope’s pivotal start of the season came in the game against UGA at Turner Field, and the hard-throwing righty pitched seven solid innings with nine strikeouts en route to a win.

Pope continued his hot streak in the summer league for the Falmouth Commodores, leading the team in strikeouts with 42 and in innings pitched with 44.2. For the season, Pope went 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA. Pope’s ERA could have been better were it not for two poor starts where he gave up 10 runs in each game.

Sophomore pitcher Luke Bard also competed in the Cape Cod Summer League this summer, but the righty played a smaller part for the Brewster Whitecaps with only 24.1 innings pitched.

Bard played a limited role for the Jackets last season as well, coming out of the bullpen averaging only 1.1 innings per appearance. Bard had a rough freshman season with a 7.53 ERA, but his nearly 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio was a positive.

For the Whitecaps, Bard’s ERA was much lower at 4.44, and he was called upon to start two games. Bard was able to find the strike zone for the Whitecaps, almost as well as he did for Tech, throwing five more strikeouts than walks.