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July 15, 2014

How the NU baseball team is doing in summer ball

Summer baseball has been in full swing for about a month now, and most of the Huskers are honing their skills somewhere across the country. Some players, particularly pitchers, take the summer off to get some rest, but many of the players are nearly the midway point of their summer campaigns. It's important to note that summer league stats aren't necessarily a great gauge for regular season success or failure, but they can help to a certain point.

Here's a look at how those Huskers have performed to this point:

Kyle Kubat, left-handed pitcher

Santa Barbara Foresters, California Collegiate League

Record ERA Batting average against WHIP Innings Strikeouts Walks K/BB
1-0 4.91 .244 1.27 11.0 13 3 4.33

Kubat's summer got off to a rough start, as he gave up six runs in 4.0 innings in his first appearance on June 20. Since then, however, the senior has been much better. He pitched six shutout innings nine days later, striking out eight and allowing just six base runners. Kubat threw one scoreless inning on July 11.

Other than that first start, Kubat has been very effective. In 11.0 innings, he has walked just three batters and posted a 1.27 WHIP while holding the opposition to a .244 batting average. That first start ballooned his ERA a bit, but his last start was exactly what Nebraska needs out of Kubat for this senior season.

Tanner Lubach, catcher

Medford Rogues, West Coast League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Extra-base hits (home runs)
.368 .471 .456 17 10 10 5 4 (0)

It could be argued that no Husker is having a better summer than Lubach. The senior catcher has been one of the most prolific offensive players in the West Coast League, though he has yet to hit a home run. This is obviously a great sign for Nebraska, who needs a few hitters to step up after losing middle-of-the-order studs Michael Prtichard and Pat Kelly earlier this offseason. Lubach's patience is also encouraging - Lubach has just five strikeouts against 10 walks.

Ryan Boldt, outfielder

Rochester Honkers, Northwoods League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Stolen bases
.309 .415 .382 9 6 6 10 10

Boldt got a late start after trying out for the USA Baseball's Collegiate National team (he was one of nine freshman to do so), and though he didn't make the team, Boldt performed well and has kept it up in 14 summer ball games. Boldt hasn't displayed middle-of-the-order power yet, but he's gotten on base at a great rate and has already swiped 10 bases, a great number that matches Boldt's top-line speed.

Josh Roeder, right-handed pitcher

Edenton Steamers, Coastal Plains League

Appearances ERA Batting average against Saves Innings Strikeouts Walks
14 2.57 .250 8 14.0 28 4

Roeder has dutifully performed as the Huskers' closer for much of the last two seasons, and he has showed no signs of slowing down this summer. Roeder has locked down eight saves and has displayed fantastic control with a 7:1 strikeout-walk ratio. He's given up just three extra-base hits (all doubles) and appears fully ready to lock down the closer's role again this season.

Roeder pitched in the league's All-Star game Monday night, pitching a perfect inning by striking out the side.

Jake Placzek, infielder

Edenton Steamers, Coastal Plains League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Stolen bases
.250 .508 .338 23 15 40 22 12

Placzek has been an on-base machine for Edenton, walking a team-high 40 times (his next-closest teammate has only 24). He's also been hit by two pitches, giving him an incredible .508 on-base percentage. Pairing that number with his 12 steals (on 14 attempts) makes it appear Placzek is blossoming into a solid top-of-the-order hitter, which the Huskers could use with Ryan Boldt likely moving to the middle of the lineup.

Max Knutson, left-handed pitcher

Danbury Westerners, New England League

Appearances (starts) ERA Batting average against WHIP Innings Strikeouts Walks
7 (5) 1.96 .238 1.04 36.2 25 3

Knutson is a very talented pitcher who didn't adjust quickly to the college level and struggled to find a role last year. But he appears to be making up for lost time so far in the summer, as he was named to the Southern Team for the NECBL All-Star game. Control was one of Knutson's issues last season, but the sophomore has just three free passes in 36.2 innings. If he is able to replicate anything close to that this coming season, he's about to see his role seriously expand.

Ben Miller, first baseman/designated hitter

Laconia Muskrats, New England League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Extra-base hits (home runs)
.233 .300 .317 6 8 6 12 3 (1)

Miller had a fine freshman season at the plate last season, so his somewhat unimpressive summer league stats should cause too much worry. It's a small sample size, and there's a more important development here - Miller has spent most of his time at first base, as opposed to nearly exclusively being a designated hitter at Nebraska. He has done well, committing just three errors and posting a .980 fielding percentage. The Huskers could do some shifting with their infield lineup next year, and having the possibility of Miller at first could expand their list of options.

Miller has made two relief appearances, but he's been used mainly as a hitter.

Austin Christensen, left-handed pitcher

Duluth Huskies, Northwoods League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Extra-base hits (home runs)
.247 .323 .306 14 6 10 19 4 (0)

Record ERA Batting average against WHIP Innings Strikeouts Walks
0-2 6.31 .287 1.24 25.2 16 2

One of the competitors to replace Aaron Bummer in NU's weekend rotation, Christensen has struggled in his recent starts. He's given up at least four runs in three of his last four starts, and his .287 batting average against suggests that opposing hitters have had some success against him. The bright side is that Christensen is still adjusting to pitching after Tommy John surgery last year, and he's walked only two batters in 25.2 innings, displaying very impressive control.

Christensen, who spent a good portion of last year playing first base, also has had some struggles at the plate. It will be interesting to see if Nebraska continues to have him pitch and hit in 2015 or if the coaches choose to have him focus on one area.

Christian Cox, outfielder/left-handed pitcher

Medford Rogues, West Coast League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Stolen bases
.304 .389 .348 6 11 5 12 6

Appearances (starts) ERA Batting average against WHIP Innings Strikeouts Walks
6 (4) 3.62 .322 1.64 22.1 15 7

Cox was used much more as a defensive replacement/pinch hitter during his first year in Lincoln, but he's been pitching more in the summer. It's unclear if that trend will continue in the fall and into the spring, but Pritchard's departure puts Cox in the group of players vying to take his playing time in left. He always did a nice job getting on base in his limited opportunities in 2014, but he must show he can replicate that over an entire season.

Jeff Chesnut, right-handed pitcher

Victoria Generals, Texas Collegiate League

Appearances ERA Batting average against Saves Innings Strikeouts Walks
11 1.14 .148 5 15.2 10 10

Chesnut has apparently served as his team's closer, an interesting move that could potentially help him take the job in 2016 after Roeder is graduated. For now, the stats are certainly encouraging. NU lost a monster bullpen arm in Zach Hirsch, and while one player can't be expected to replace his production, there are a few veteran relievers who could step up and combine to fill the void. Chesnut certainly fits that description.

Taylor Fish, catcher

Okotoks Dawgs, Western Major Baseball League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts Stolen bases
.295 .380 .347 18 8 18 13 5

Fish has played very well in summer ball to this point. He still hasn't shown much power, but he has gotten on base on a strong clip. He figures to have a similar role to what he had last year, so getting on base and scoring at this rate would be just fine for the Huskers.

Bryce Only, infielder/designated hitter

Victoria Generals, Texas Collegiate League

Batting average On-base percentage Slugging percentage Runs RBIs Walks Strikeouts
.143 .250 .143 0 2 0 1

Only clearly hasn't gotten much playing time yet, but that's not necessarily a bad note on his future. He was an excellent hitter in high school who the coaches had high hopes for coming into last season. Only could still be a contributor in 2015 as either a first baseman or designated hitter.

Grant Gamble, left-handed pitcher

Cowlitz Black Bears, West Coast League

Appearances ERA Batting average against WHIP Innings Strikeouts Walks
4 16.87 .333 6.00 2.2 2 8

Gamble has struggled early on after redshirting last season, but that's not a huge problem for a freshman. He has plenty of time to grow, though he certainly needs to cut down on the walks he's offered up this summer. Gamble might be able to help in 2015, but his greatest contributions might come down the road.



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