Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dirtbags reload with top arms Weathers and staff bring in prospects.
By Bob Keisser Staff writer
It's too early to say anything definitively, but the Dirtbags' recruiting class for 2006 looks like a worthy successor to the pitching-rich classes of the past that have sent Abe Alvarez, Jered Weaver, Cesar Ramos and Neil Jamison to the pros.
Coach Mike Weathers and recruiting coordinator Troy Buckley have landed eight well-regarded freshmen pitchers who will compete for innings with an already young group of returning contributors to last season's NCAA regional team.
"We lost six guys who pitched a lot of quality innings for us last season (Ramos, Marco Estrada, Cody Evans, Jamison, Brian Anderson and Steve Hammond)," Weathers said. "So there's going to be opportunities to pitch right away."
Those six Dirtbags combined for 374 1/3 of the team's 522 innings in 2005.
"It's a very good group of pitchers. Vance Worley, Scott Turmail and Shane Peterson have probably gotten the most recognition, but it's way too early to say who's going to fill what role. They all had success last season and will be in the mix."
The Dirtbags will return one starter, Jared Hughes (8-3, 2.83), as well as Donnie Hume and Matt Fitts, who impressed late last season in limited opportunities as true freshmen and are candidates for the rotation. Senior-to-be Brett Andrade is pitching well in summer play and is a candidate to replace Jamison as the closer.
The Dirtbags lost just one recruit to the amateur draft. Outfielder Andy Lopez of Elk Grove (Sacramento) signed with Tampa Bay as an eighth-round pick after the team agreed to give him a bonus comparable to a fourth-round pick. He hit .462 last season.
Among the recruited bats are shortstop Danny Espinosa, who helped Mater Dei to the CIF title, catcher Kip Masuda from Hawaii and two outfielders transferring in with Division I experience, Robert Perry (Santa Clara) and Teddy Pattock (Coastal Carolina).
A look at the 15 new faces, in alphabetical order:
* Kyle Bredenkamp, RHP, Fr., 6-5, 210, Millikan High: The local product went 6-4 with a 1.72 ERA for the Rams, striking out an average of a batter-plus per inning. He shrugged off an offer from Philadelphia (37th round) to stay home. Comparable to Hughes when he was a freshman, he is raw and still growing into his body.
* Danny Espinosa, SS, Fr., 6-0, 185, Mater Dei High: Espinosa is a baseball rat, Weathers said, who has logged a lot of innings already in his career and played on several U.S. National youth teams. He's very solid with the glove but his bat numbers in 2005 were modest, .288 and 20 RBI, to go with 18 steals.
* Hunter Hewitt, LHP, Fr., 6-0, 187, Kentucky/Trinity High: The Kentucky Wildcats thought they had the inside track on Hewitt, but he chose to come west to work with Buckley after spending a summer in the Dirtbags camp. He was 5-2 in 2005 and 7-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 2004. Scouts like his velocity and say he'll get better as he gets stronger.
* Andre Lamontagne, RHP, Fr., 6-4, 180, Santa Maria Righetti High: Lamontagne didn't need to be schooled on Dirtbag philosophy. He became a fan of the program when his family came to visit relatives who lived here and the Dirtbags were on his short list of colleges. He went 9-0 last season to lead Righetti to a league title and postseason play. He wasn't on the scouting radar before 2005, so the Dirtbags may have nailed a sleeper.
* Russ Lowell, LHP, Fr., 6-0, 155, Encinitas La Costa Canyon High: Lowell was a first team all-league choice as a junior, going 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA. He suffered bad luck this season, going 4-6 with a 3.85 ERA and 44 walks and 78 strikeouts in 60 innings. But he beat San Diego kingpin Rancho Bernardo twice and lost a third game in extra innings.
* Kip Masuda, C, Fr., 5-10, 185, Hawaii/Mid-Pacific Institute: Masuda was named the state's position player of the year while leading his team with a .389 average, five home runs and 38 RBI after going on a regimented weight-lifting program in the offseason. He threw out 17 of 20 base stealers last season. Masuda also attended a Dirtbags camp and impressed the coaches there. He can also play first base.
* Bobby McMurray, OF-3B, Jr., 6-0, 195, Mesa City College: He will arrive coming off a torn rotator cuff suffered midway through last season. He actually played with the injury as a freshman and still hit .354 with 62 RBI. When healthy, he hits for average and power.
* Teddy Pattock, OF, So., 6-1, 180, Chandler-Gilbert (Az.) City College: The left-handed hitter began his career at Coastal Carolina (a No. 1 seed in the 2005 NCAA tournament), then left for junior college, where he was a second-team all-league choice with a .319 average, .418 on-base percentage and 21 steals. He's currently playing on the same Alaska summer team with Dirtbags Brandon Godfrey, Fitts and Andrade.
* Robert Perry, OF, Jr., 5-9, 175, Santa Clara: A former Little League teammate of Troy Tulowitzki, Perry in 2004 became the first freshman to start at Santa Clara in 22 years. He hit .305 with eight homers in 2004 and was hitting .324 with four homers when he suffered a finger injury that sidelined him at mid-season. The Dirtbags recruited him out of high school with Tulowitzki, but he chose to stay close to home.
* Shane Peterson, LHP/1B, Fr., 6-1, 195, Temecula Chaparral High: He'll probably pitch in college, but he's good enough with the bat (.414, seven home runs) to warrant being used like 2004 standout Jason Vargas. He was a second-team all-CIF choice and won five games with 90 Ks. He's already played as a member of a USA National youth team.
* Edgar Sedano, IF, So., 5-11, 175, Roosevelt High, East L.A. College: Sedano was an all-city choice and teammate of Fullerton ace Ricky Romero while at Roosevelt. He's performed well in two seasons at East L.A., being named all-Southern California while hitting .405 with 40 runs scored, six home runs and 19 RBI.
* Bryan Shaw, RHP, Fr., 6-0, 190, Livermore High: In 28 innings of an injury-shortened season, Shaw allowed just 14 hits and one earned run (0.25 ERA) while striking out 29.
* Scott Turmail, RHP, Fr., 6-4, 190, Missouri/Hazelwood Central High: He won virtually every award in his region other than a state title. After going 8-1 with a 1.41 ERA in 2004, he was 7-1/1.63 in 2005. His most incredible stat: He struck out 53 and walked only three. He also hit .357, but his future is on the hill. The Dirtbags coaches made a rare trip to the Midwest to scout Turmail based on his sincere interest in the program and were rewarded.
* Allen Wood, OF, Lakewood High/Golden West College: The stepson of long-time Long Beach director of Parks, Recreation and Marine Phil Hester hit .366 in 2004 and .326 with 28 RBI as a second-team all-league choice in 2005.
* Vance Worley, RHP, Fr., 6-3, 210, Sacramento McClatchy High: Worley was projected as a high pro draft pick, but he suffered an elbow strain late in the season that cost him velocity and led pro teams to bail. He wound up being drafted by Philadelphia in the 20th round and chose to attend Long Beach State instead, something he says he might have done regardless. Worley hit the low 90s on the speed gun before the injury and struck out 102 in 51 1/3 innings this season while posting a 4-3 record and 1.79 ERA. In 2004, he was 6-1 with a 1.71 ERA.
DIRTBAG NOTES: Original Dirtbag Don Barbara has been named the top assistant at Sacramento State, which joins the Western Athletic Conference next season. His contract as an assistant coach for the Dirtbags was not renewed. ...Three pitchers who didn't appear in a game in 2005 have left the program. Left-hander Brendon Villalobos, who was 1-2 in 10 appearances in 2004, is transferring to Chaffey College, and sophomore Romeo Newman (one appearance in 2004) and freshman pitcher Ryan Shopshire are also transferring to JCs in search of playing time. ... Outfielder Zach Barger, who hit .222 with two RBI in 15 games last season, also plans to transfer to a JC near his home in San Diego. ... Brandon Decker, an infielder-outfielder from El Cajon Granite Hills High who hit .360 with five home runs and 14 stolen bases, also joined the team as a walk-on.
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