The spring is here and so is Rice baseball. The new era under Matt Bragga will begin with some familiar names led on the mound by Matt Canterino.
Matt Bragga’s first season as the head coach for Rice baseball will be underway very soon. The Owls are expected to be led by a strong presence on the mound. Here’s how the starting rotation and the bullpen project entering the 2019 season.
Friday: Matt Canterino (2018: 7-5, 3.06 ERA, 116K, 22BB)
There are few preseason awards which omitted the Owls’ ace. Canterino was named the CUSA Preseason Pitcher of the Year as well as an All-American by Baseball America and the National College Baseball Writer’s Association. D1 Baseball tabbed him as their CUSA Preseason Pitcher of the Year, too.
Saturday: Addison Moss (2018: 2-4, 2.43 ERA, 53K, 16BB)
Moss and Canterino could establish themselves as one of the best 1-2 punches in Conference USA. Moss didn’t earn the same preseason recognition as Canterino, but the junior hurler returns from a sophomore campaign in which he allowed 2.3 walks per nine innings and held the best ERA on the team.
Sunday and midweek starters:
Roel Garcia underwent Tommy John surgery this winter, opening the door wide open for the Sunday and midweek starting roles. Coach Bragga will have several options to choose from and we could see several guys get a shot before the rotation begins to solidify itself.
Bragga has tabbed Jackson Parthasarathy (3 starts, 6.28 ERA) and Evan Kravetz as the top two guys entering the season. Kendal Jeffries (5 starts in 2018, 4.06 ERA) and Missouri transfer Drake Greenwood could get a chance, too.
This is where things get interesting. Rice should have a deep crop of arms for the staff to deploy in a variety of ways. Brandon Deskins and Zach Esquivel are both quality relief options with the latter two putting on impressive showings in the Owls’ final fall scrimmage against Texas A&M. The duo each have some tricky movement on their stuff which makes them tricky to hit provided they can stick it in the zone.
On the back end, Garrett Gayle has the arm to cement himself as the team’s primary closer this season. He posted a stunning 0.45 ERA in the Cape Cod league this summer and has topped 97 MPH on the gun. Gayle finished second on the team to Canterino in strikeouts last year.
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