Before breaking down the roster commences, I can report some news regarding one expected returnee who won't be on campus for the 2014 season.
Dillon Peters is a part of one of the best staff's in the country.
Josh Urban (1.51 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .200 BAA, 24 H, 16 BB, 21 K in 35.2 IP) is seeking a transfer. He wanted to have the opportunity to pitch on the weekends, but with the abundance of talent returning on the Texas pitching staff he was most likely going to be the odd man out.
Urban was restricted from transferring to Texas A&M, Texas State, Rice, Houston and all Big 12 schools. His appeal is being heard today.
Weekend Starters (No specific order)
Dillon Peters, Junior (LHP) – 1.97 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .223 BAA, 71 H, 24 BB, 57 K in 86.2 IP; 6-3 record. Peters is pitching in the Cape Cod League for the Harwich Mariners this summer.
Nathan Thornhill, Senior (RHP) – 2.21 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .234 BAA, 74 H, 15 BB, 60 K in 85.1 IP; 3-6 record. The Cedar Park native opted to return to school rather that sign with the Houston Astros. He'll stay in Austin and work on campus this summer rather than pitch in a wooden bat league.
Parker French, Junior (RHP) – 2.68 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .240 BAA, 69 H, 24 BB, 46 K in 77.1 IP; 4-5 record. French is playing summer ball in the California Collegiate League, pitching for the Santa Barbara Foresters.
You can pencil in Peters, Thornhill and French as your three weekend starters. It's too early to tell what the order will be, but Texas fans can rest easy in the offseason knowing that the Horns' weekend starters can match up with anyone else in the country.
John Curtiss, Redshirt sophomore (RHP) – 3.50 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .237 BAA, 55 H, 25 BB, 48 K in 64.1 IP; 2-3 record in 2012.
He's returning after missing the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery and it sounds like he's fully recovered.
He will definitely be pitching on the weekends, but we really don't know where he will fit at this time. He was thought to be the projected third weekend starter next season if Nathan Thornhill had turned pro, but he will most likely begin the season coming out of the bullpen.
Curtiss would be a weekend starter for almost every team in the nation and Texas will have the luxury to use him out of the pen in whatever situation needed. He will be a great long relief or set-up guy.
Lukas Schiraldi, Junior (RHP) – 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 24 ER, 17 BB, 67 K in 76 IP; 9-2 record at Navarro Junior College.
He possesses the most closer-worthy stuff on the entire staff and having Skip Johnson as a pitching coach should only help that. He is the favorite to win the closing job and he pitches with the confidence and mentality to fit the role.
Rarely does a top-200 national prospect from a junior college end up on campus at a major school like Texas. His imposing stature and velocity (6-feet-6-inches, 94 mph fastball) should make a large impact on next year's team.
Travis Duke, Sophomore (LHP) – 1.53 WHIP, 1.13 WHIP, .213 BAA, 27 H, 13 BB, 25 K in 35.1 IP; 4-1 record.
He should be the top left-handed pitcher in Texas' bullpen. He pitched quite well last season as a freshman despite not getting much help from his defense. I expect a season with similar production next year for Duke.
Mid-week Starter Candidates
Chad Hollingsworth, Sophomore (RHP) – 3.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA, 25 H, 18 BB, 15 K; 3-1 record.
He's a very consistent pitcher who best fits the mold to be the mid-week starter out of all of the pitchers returning for Texas. He also may be second best candidate to win the closing job and he may grab the job if Schiraldi does not impress in fall ball.
Blake Goins, Freshman (Pearland – RHP)
Goins is the wildcard of the Texas pitching staff. He's one of the few draft picks that the Angels have not signed and the vibe trickling out of Los Angeles is that Goins may end up on campus.
He will definitely have an opportunity to prove himself worthy of being a starter on the staff and he has the stuff to be a collegiate starter as a freshman.
Other contributors out of the bullpen
Ty Culbreath, Sophomore (LHP) – 0.00 ERA, 0.37 WHIP, 0 H, BB, 3K in 2.2 IP.
Culbreath is playing summer ball in the California Collegiate League, pitching for the Santa Barbara Foresters. He will most likely begin as a reliever out of the pen during mid-week games.
He and Holden Helmink have the highest upside out of this group and they both have the stuff to be solid contributors during their careers at Texas. Since he is a lefty he will be used situationally, but may show the ability to have a bigger role on the staff in the future.
Holden Helmink, Redshirt freshman (RHP)
Last season he was alongside Hollingsworth as the most heralded pitching prospect in the 2012 recruiting class. He was regarded as a top-200 national prospect by most experts and was thought to have the tools needed to become an impact pitcher at the collegiate level. It's too early in his career to draw any type of conclusions, but rarely do pitchers develop into top-end talents after redshirting with non-injury related issues.
Ty Marlow, Senior – 2.16 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .214 BAA, 25 H, 7 BB, 26 K in 33.1 IP; 1-2 record. Marlow is playing summer ball in the California Collegiate League, pitching for the Santa Barbara Foresters.
His role is hard to predict because he's a utility piece who may be forced to a little of everything again next season. The first base situation is cloudy and he has a chance to challenge for that spot, but he seemed to be more successful on the mound than at the plate last season.
If he's used primarily as a pitcher then he can a productive member of the bullpen. This staff is very deep and inning will be at a premium.
Kirby Bellow, Senior – 4.91 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .286 BAA, 4 H, BB, 5 K in 3.2 IP.
He has not developed into the type of pitcher that the Texas coaches thought he could become. He lost some confidence early in his career and has not been able to gain it back.
You can chalk this one as a miss in recruiting. Bellow may contribute as an additional left-handed arm that can be used situationally.
Kacy Clemens, Freshman (Houston Memorial - RHP)
His situation is the most intriguing out of this group. He came to Texas because he wants to pitch, but he also has the ability to play first base and that position is a currently the thinnest spot in the Texas lineup. If he works as a pitcher throughout the fall I could see him getting a few innings early in the season to prove his worth.
Wait and see
Right now it's too early to tell the roles of Justin Peters (senior, RHP), Jon Malmin (freshman from Troy, LHP), Morgan Cooper (freshman from Jarrell, RHP) and Josh Sawyer (freshman from San Angelo Central, LHP) on this pitching staff.
Fall ball will be key for the development of these players and if someone stands out they may be able to take some innings away from a few of the returning pitchers.
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