Season Preview

COUGARS #10 IN PRESEASON BASEBALL POLL-

Opens 2014 Campaign in SLO

 

SAN LUIS OBISPO (January 24, 2014)— The Cuesta baseball team is set to begin its 12th season under Coach Bob Miller (298-173-2/12th).  The Cougars, who are chasing their 19th consecutive playoff berth, are ranked #10 in the CCCBCA Pre-season Poll.  The Cougars are loaded with talent, however they bring back only one starter and enter the 2014 campaign unproven.  Coach Miller says, “We have a good mentality.  We have worked hard to improve, but we have a lot of unproven players.  We have a brand new team.” Other than 2013 All-WSC selection Parker Hindle (Camarillo HS) the Cougars have three returnees in the field, who combined for 117 at bats last season, and three pitchers, who combined to hurl 62.1 innings over the past two seasons. Luckily, Coach Miller’s roster is not completely absent of veteran talent.  The squad does boast three sophomore transfers; unfortunately none of them own a collegiate base-hit. Miller says, “We are not battle tested, but we are hungry to work, perform and play.  We take pride in our effort.”  The Cougars will be tested early in the season with ten of their first 14 games coming against ranked opponents.  Miller says, “It is a good early season test to figure things out before conference.”

The Cougars will open the 2014 campaign with a three-game homestand against four-time State Champion Riverside.  The Tigers enter the season ranked 2nd in the CCCBCA Pre-season Poll.  The Cougars and Bengals open the season on Friday (1 PM) and also play on Saturday (1 PM) and Sunday (Noon). 

 

Pitchers

The Cougars’ rotation has the potential to impress; yet remains unproven.  Coach Bob Miller says, “We have a chance for a solid rotation.”  Right-hander Darius Coldiron (Loveland HS, CO) missed the 2013 season with injuries, but is ready to comeback and cash in on the promise he showed as a freshman in 2012.  Miller says, “He has the best stuff on the staff, but he is still bouncing back.”  Coldiron was 1-2 with a save in 22.2 innings and posted a 4.37 ERA as a rookie.  The Cougars also bring back Righty Evan Peterson (Templeton HS).  Peterson was 1-0 with a save in 2013, but also posted an unsightly 7.63 ERA.  Miller says, “He has made improvements and uses the plate.  He was our #1 during the fall.”  Both hurlers had their initial collegiate start as freshman and the Cougars are hoping their potential translates into their second start this week, and beyond.  Freshman Anthony Baleto (Martinez) fills out the rotation with a chance to develop into an ace.  He is a power pitcher and Miller says, “He throws strikes and has a good make-up.” The talented freshman can also play first base for the Cougars on his off day. 

 

Bullpen

A trio of hulking freshmen should provide plenty of firepower from the bullpen- Nick Burnham (Pleasant Hill), Jackson Gentes (San Diego), and Scott Romuk (Granite Bay HS).  The 6-6 Burnham is a hard thrower with a good mix of pitches and 6-2 Gentes owns plus-command of four pitches.  Miller says, “They have good young arms.”  The 6-5 Romuk also brings plenty of heat.  Fellow right-handers Cameron Trichka (Elizabeth, CO), Matt Culp (Paso Robles HS) give the Cougars another look, while Southpaw Mike Simonis (Tustin) checks in as the Cougars only left-hander. Sophomore Alex Fagalde (El Dorado Hills) has the potential to be a dominant closer after battling through an injury prone, yet effective, freshman season.  He only pitched 19.2 innings in nine games, but poster a 1-1 record with a team-high two saves and team-low 1.86 ERA.  If Fagalde, who begins the season on the disabled list, cannot get back on the field the Cougars plan to employ a bullpen by committee. Righties Tyler Kollmann (Templeton HS), Tyler Skinner (Dos Palos HS), Spencer Vierra (Merced) and Kyle Haigwood (Henderson, NV) provide quality depth in the Cougars’ bullpen. 

 

Catcher

2013 All-WSC First Team selection Parker Hindle (Camarillo HS) is back behind the plate for the Cougars.  He is Cuesta’s top returner and will help the Cougars young pitchers reach their potential.  He also helps the Cougars offensively.  Hindle was the team’s most consistent hitter last season and hit .288 with a team-high 30 RBI.  He will hold down a middle of the order spot on offense.  Two-time All-SLO County Catcher RJ Hassay (SLO HS) is an accomplished backstop and possess a great throwing arm.   He will see plenty of action this season and allows Hindle the opportunity to keep fresh without sacrificing talent behind the plate.   College of San Mateo transfer Alex York (Concord) had only two at bats for the Bulldogs last season and gives the Cougars another option behind the plate, but will also see time in the outfield or designated hitter.  Freshman Jordaan Salas (Ewa Beach, HI) is the Cougars only left-handed hitting fielder. 

 

First Base

Sophomore Ryan McGuire (Oakton, VA) has found a home at Cuesta College.   He is playing for his fourth team in five years, but his second at Cuesta College.  He spent his junior year of high school in Virginia, earning all-District honors, before after moving to Colorado for his senior season, where he was an all-State choice.   The nomadic first sacker also spent his first year of college redshirting at Odessa Junior College in Texas, before making his way to SLO.  Miller says, “He is an effort guy and brings the intangibles.” McGuire saw limited action in 2013, hitting .242 in 33 at bats, however he begins the season anchoring the rightside of the infield in a platoon with Anthony Baleto (Martinez). Baleto, when he is not pitching, can move to the field and offers another solid bat.  2013 All-WSC choice Parker Hindle (Camarillo HS) can also play first base if needed.

 

Second Base

Freshmen Steven Pico (Lompoc HS), a two-time All Los Padres League pick, and Christian Priore (Woodland Hills) join sophomore Joe Miler (Healdsburg HS) at second base and add depth at the other two infield spots. Coach Miller says, “Pico has great hands and strong arm.  He can hit and runs well.”  Priore is another talented defender and knows how to work the count at the plate.  Miller began last season as a spare part and projected reserve catcher and shortstop, but ended the season with a flourish.  He scored the winning run in the Cougars win over Oxnard to clinch the Western State Conference title and then combined for four runs (two scored, two driven in) after earning his first start on the last day of the season.  Overall he hit only .063 in 16 at-bats spread over 38 games.  He should be more productive offensively this season with more consistent action. Freshman Joshua Ramirez (Cornerstone Christian: Paso Robles) will provide depth.

 

Third Base                            

Coach Bob Miller says Freshman Josh Falco (Sacramento) is the first true third baseman the Cougars have had during his tenure.  He should hold down the “hot corner” this season and add a strong bat to the Cougars’ line-up.  Coach Miller says, “He has a good glove and will hit in the middle of the order.” Joe Miler (Healdsburg HS) will back up Falco.

 

 

Shortstop 

College of William & Mary transfer David Belt (Vienna, VA) saw limited action as a freshman, but is expected to step into a big role this season.  He had only six at bats for the Tribe in 2013, while also hurling one inning of scoreless mop up relief in a 20-3 loss to Delaware.  He will join Falco to give the Cougars their best left-side of the since All State choices Brian Finegan and Patrick Dobson, before embarking on the pro careers, led the Cougars to the 2002 State Championships. Miller says of Belt, “He has come a long way.  He will bat leadoff, but also has some pop.”  Freshmen Steven Pico (Lompoc HS), Christian Priore (Woodland Hills) and Joshua Ramirez (Cornerstone Christian: Paso Robles) will provide depth. 

 

Leftfield                  

Freshman Clayton Schuler (Chico HS) and Pitcher Nick Burnham (Pleasant Hill) will share leftfield.  Schuler is a former All-Butte County performer and can hit to all fields.  Burnham, besides being a power pitcher and a great outfield arm, provides a potential long ball hitter at the plate.

 

Centerfield                 

Freshman Tylor Klipfel (Saugus HS) and Canadian import Nick Rutckyj (Surrey, CAN) will share centerfield.  Klipfel covers a lot of ground in the outfield and adds speed to the line up. He showed improvement at the plate this fall, however he was hitless in five at bats for the College of the Canyons in 2013.  Rutckyj led Elgin Park High to three Pacific Baseball League titles and should be one of the Cougars’ impact freshmen.  He is an aggressive fielder and adds a potent bat after winning the Junior Pacific League Triple Crown.

 

Rightfield                 

Sophomore Myles Franklin (Seattle, WA) brings a lot of tools to the outfield and should provide power in the Cougars’ line up.  He hit .221 in 68 at bats as a reserve as a freshman. 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuesta College Athletic Programs are funded through a combined effort of the College District, Associated Students of Cuesta College, and The Athletic Booster Club.