Salutations, friends! It’s officially the weekend after Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s finally time for some Fightin’ Texas Aggie Baseball. It’s been a while since last we spoke, and I’m sure we’re all feeling a bit rusty. So let’s take it from the top, shall we?
Last season marked the beginning of a new era over at The Corner™®©, when Jim Schlossnagle took over an Aggie baseball program in need of some new life. He assembled an elite coaching staff, with Nate Yeskie (formerly of Arizona) handling the pitchers, Michael Earley (Arizona State) the offense, and Nolan Cain (LSU) reeling in the ‘croots.
Schloss & The Boys immediately hit the transfer portal to shore up a roster in flux. They plucked a couple of very experienced pitchers from big name programs, in Micah Dallas (Texas Tech) and Jacob Palisch (Stanford), and they became two of the most utilized arms on the staff. Kole Kaler (Hawaii) stepped in up the middle and at the top of the lineup (why do we love Kole Kaler?). To replace Will Frizzell at first base, sweet-swinging Jack Moss followed Earley from Arizona State, and immediately became one of the best hitters in the program. Dylan Rock (UTSA) took over in left field, and became one of the premier power hitters in all of college baseball and in all of our hearts <3. And of course, Troy Claunch (Oregon State) took the reins behind the dish, became the first player specially chosen to don the #12, and etched his name into Aggie Baseball folklore.
Those fellas joined the likes of Austin Bost, Brett Minnich, Nathan Dettmer, Trevor Werner, Jordan Thompson, Ryan Targac and so many others. Together, that group messed around and made it all the way to the semifinals at the Men’s College World Series. What a thrill that was!
Heading into 2023, the Ags return many of last season’s usual suspects, as they hope to build on the unexpected success from Schloss’ first year in Aggieland. Bost, now a senior, is rocking No. 12, Moss is a preseason all-american, and the squad is a near-consensus presesason Top 5 (smh Baseball America). It’s easy to forget that 2022 was supposed to be a transition year for the maroon and white, but all of that is out the door at this point.
Newcomers to watch
Quite a few of the instant impact guys from 2022 have all moved on, with Claunch, Rock, Dallas, Kaler and Palisch all leaving some big shoes to fill. To counteract that, Schloss and his staff landed three transfers on D1Baseball’s Top 100 Impact Transfers list. At No. 25, sophomore lefty Troy Wansing (Purdue) will join the Ags’ weekend rotation. At No. 45, junior SS Hunter Haas (Arizona State) will likely get the nod at short. And last but not least, senior RHP Carson Lambert (USC), checking in at No. 69 (don’t say it (nice)), will look to bolster what should be an excellent bullpen.
The Aggies also brought in the 12th-ranked (BRAAAAND) freshman class. The big name to watch out of the fish is OF Jace LaViolette out of Katy Tompkins. There’s no other way to put it: this dude just destroys baseballs. The account @AggieAnalytics often shares the top exit velocities after the team’s various scrimmages/fall ball games, and damn near every time, LaViolette’s name is at the top of the list. Usually he’s on there two or three times. You know how Ryan Targac loves a good moonshot? No disrespect to Targ, but this kid can hit ‘em to Saturn.
Top 10 EV from the weekend ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aXMhSw9Ayn— Aggie Baseball Analytics (@AggieAnalytics) February 13, 2023
Lefty Justin Lamkin from Corpus Christi will likely get the nod in the midweek, and may just push his way into the weekend rotation before it’s all said and done. Infielder Kaeden Kent (as in potential-Hall-of-Famer, Barry-Bonds’-best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world Jeff Kent) should see plenty of playing time, as he’s said to be pretty advanced at the plate already.
Earlier this week, the Ags announced their opening weekend rotation:
The opening weekend rotation:— Texas A&M Baseball (@AggieBaseball) February 15, 2023
Fri - @NDettmer21
Sat - @TroyWansing
Sun - @ChrisCortezz10 pic.twitter.com/ONXmG2tDvF
“Dirty Dett” will hopefully pick up right where he left off in 2022. His last outing in maroon and white came in Omaha, when he spun a masterful 7.0 shutout innings against a Notre Dame team that I swear didn’t have a single underclassman on it. Wansing was named to the B1G All-Freshman Team at Purdue in 2022, after he tallied 61 punchouts in just 51.1 innings (that’s 10.69 K/9, for all my fellow nerds out there). Sophomore Chris Cortez, who was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, quickly became one of Schloss and Yeskie’s most-used and most-trusted arms out of the bullpen last season. Now the righty from Las Vegas will get his chance to do his thing on the weekends.
Dates to know
- Feb. 17-19: Opening weekend vs. Seattle University
- March 3-5: The Shriners Children’s College Classic at the Juice Box in Houston. Taking on Louisville (rematch!), Rice (updated schedule), and Lifetime Contract University
- March 8: Ags play Rice in Houston again lol
- March 14: Aggies travel to Houston again to take on UH
- March 17-19: Preseason #1 LSU comes to town to open SEC play
- March 21: Rice again????? (at home this time)
- March 24-26: Ags head to Knoxville to do battle with everyone’s favorite new money baseball team
- March 28: Our orange besties are coming over. Did we play them last year? I can’t remember.
- March 31-April 2: The team who tried to fight Dylan Rock last year and then went supernova all the way to a national title will be in town. They’re preseason #4.
- April 27-29: Aggies head to Fayetteville to take on the preseason #8 Hogs
- May 5-7: The preseason #7 Florida Gators will be in Aggieland (that’s five (5) Top 10 teams lol)
- May 12-14: Ags host preseason #20 Alabama
- May 18-20: Aggies close out the regular season in Starkville, with that super-good-and-not-at-all-terrible circular, convex right field corner
- May 23-28: SEC Tournament in Hoover, AL
Like I mentioned before, there was supposed to be a rebuilding period to kick off Schloss’ tenure at A&M. And after an early series loss to Penn and a 1-2 showing at the Frisco College Baseball Classic, that surely seemed like the case. Then somewhere between a road series win in Baton Rouge and an emotional midweek win in Austin, something clicked. They developed a mental fortitude that we hadn’t seen at A&M in quite a while. Multiple times, they’d kick the ball around on defense and dig massive holes on the scoreboard, only to slug their way right out of it. They weren’t easily fazed.
Most of those guys are still here. So yeah, that whole transition stuff is out the window. There are real expectations for this team. The SEC is as loaded as ever, with LSU and all of their splashy transfers, defending national champions in Oxford, the brash and uber-talented lot on Rocky Top, you name it. But this team can and will compete for A&M’s first-ever regular season SEC title. They can and will compete for the opportunity to host through the Supers once again.
The 2017 team rode a mountain of good fortune all the way to an unexpected trip to Omaha, only for 2018 to fall extremely flat. We’ve been burned before, many, many times across basically every sport that Texas A&M fields a team. But this team, this program feels different. The expectation should be Omaha.
So fill up those bubble machines, and your comically oversized tube of Pringles, and head on over to The Corner™®©! First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 pm tonight, 2:00 pm tomorrow, and 10:30 am on Sunday. You can catch the games on SECN+, with Will Johnson and Boomer White on the call, and locally on The Zone 1150 AM / 93.7 FM in B/CS. You can also follow along with live stats at tamu.statbroadcast.com on desktop or tamustats.com on your mobile device. Oh and if you haven’t Aggie baseball-fied your device, check out our Texas A&M baseball wallpapers.