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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball fall ball: Who’s back, who’s new and who went pro

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Danielle Main
The Arizona baseball team huddles before its game against Hermosillo at the Mexican Baseball Fiesta on Oct. 5 at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. Hermosillo will go on to play a game each day throughout the weekend.

Last year’s 2023 Arizona baseball season ended with the Wildcats reaching the NCAA Tournament after an ample Pac-12 performance, but they ultimately came up short in the postseason. Changes to the roster were bound to happen, with many players leaving and a few new ones arriving

Coming off of last season with seniors leaving, players hitting the transfer portal and the key contributors going pro, there were many roster spots to be taken with the signings from the transfer portal and youthful faces. 

Signings to the major leagues: 

With players like Chase Davis, Kiko Romero and Nik McClaughry gone, the new recruits and youth added to the team will have adjustments to make and big shoes to fill. Davis, an outfielder who was named the Pac-12 Tournament Most Valuable Player and led the Wildcats in many offensive categories like batting average (.362) and home runs (21), ended up being selected with the 21st overall pick in the first round of the most recent MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Shortstop McClaughry, who was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was selected in the 10th round by the San Diego Padres. 

Other Arizona players who were picked in the 2023 MLB draft include right-handed pitcher Chris Barraza (10th round, Los Angeles Angels), right-handed pitcher TJ Nichols (sixth round, Tampa Bay Rays) and Romero (seventh round, New York Yankees). Additionally, Tony Bullard signed as a free agent with the Miami Marlins and right-handed pitching prospect and Arizona commit Blake Wolters was drafted in the second round by the Kansas City Royals.

Transfer Portal:

Arizona had four players transfer in. These incoming transfers are senior right-handed pitcher Clark Candiotti from Wichita State University, sophomore catcher Adonys Guzman from Boston College and junior right-handed pitcher Kyler Heyne from Kansas State University. Left-handed pitcher Shane Telfer initially transferred in from Pepperdine University, but he chose to sign a pro contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks instead. 

From the 12 players who entered the NCAA transfer portal, 10 have decided their new destinations for 2024, ending their runs at the UA

  • Mac Bingham, outfielder (Louisiana State University)
  • Aiden May, right-handed pitcher (Oregon State University)
  • Cameron LaLiberte, catcher (Oral Roberts University)
  • Tyler LeJeune, infielder (Northwest Florida State College)
  • Mason Kelley, right-handed pitcher (University of Utah)
  • Andrew Carroll, right-handed pitcher (Kirkwood Community College)
  • Reed Schaefer, right-handed pitcher (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Hayden Lewis, right-handed pitcher (New Mexico State University)
  • Josh Randall, right-handed pitcher (University of San Diego)
  • Luke Moeller, catcher/right-handed pitcher (Yavapai College)
  • Trevor Schmidt, first baseman/outfielder
  • Jack Grant, infielder

Youth of the team: 

The signing class includes eight pitchers and five position players, with over half of them being native to Arizona. With this roster, it’s to be expected that the players will continue to take advantage of all the open spots needed to amplify what they can bring home to Hi Corbett Field this year. The signing class, either from high school or a junior college, is as follows:

  • Easton Breyfogle, outfielder (Benilde-St. Margaret’s HS, Edina, Minnesota)
  • Andrew Cain, infielder (Ironwood Ridge HS, Oro Valley, Arizona)
  • Alessandro Castro, left-handed pitcher (Pima, Tucson)
  • Cole Dillon, catcher (McLennan CC, Rockwall, Texas)
  • Raul Garayzar, right-handed pitcher (South Mountain CC, Rio Rico, Arizona)
  • Carson Johnson, right-handed pitcher (Hamilton HS, Chandler, Arizona)
  • Owen Kramkowski, right-handed pitcher (Walden Grove HS, Sahuarita, Arizona)
  • Bryce McKnight, right-handed pitcher (Desert Vista HS, Phoenix)
  • Josh Morano, left-handed pitcher (Granada HS, Livermore, California)
  • Nico Newhan, infielder (Maranatha Christian HS, Vista, California)
  • Zach Plasschaert, first baseman/outfielder (Saugus HS, Saugus, California)
  • Will Shelor, right-handed pitcher (Hamilton HS, Chandler, Arizona)
  • Jaeden Swanberg, left-handed pitcher (Pima, Tucson)

Fall 2023 exhibition games

With this roster set, the fall baseball schedule has already begun. The exhibition series,  the Mexican Baseball Fiesta, kicked off on Thursday, Oct. 5, against the Naranjeros de Hermosillo at Kino Veteran’s Memorial Stadium

The Naranjeros are a professional team based in Hermosillo, Mexico, and play against Arizona in the Wildcats’ home city every year. The Wildcats took a 3-1 victory over the Naranjeros, which allowed the new pitchers to get a feel for what the Arizona coaching staff expects out of them. 

In the previous season, pitching was one of the reasons why Arizona couldn’t get past the regional round of the NCAA Tournament, so it was refreshing to see what the new era of Wildcat pitching had to offer. 

The rest of the schedule includes games against Pima on Saturday, Oct. 14, and Central Arizona College on Saturday, Oct. 21. Both games will take place at Hi Corbett Field at 1 p.m.


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