Rice baseball needs an infusion of talent. Combing a new recruiting class with better production from the existing roster gives hope for the Owls next season.
Weeks removed from an abbreviated season, Rice baseball is getting back to work. Head coach Matt Bragga and his staff are working the phones as best they can, trying to turn this difficult situation into growth on the recruiting front.
As things stand now the staff is excited about the next wave of Owls set to be on campus for the 2021 season. Normally there would be a real level of concern regarding an upcoming signing class arriving on campus. With the truncated MLB Draft structure, the odds of the Owls’ getting all of their guys to South Main should (theoretically) increase.
Current commit William Burbank is graded as a potential Top 10 round pick by Perfect Game. Several others can hit the 90s with their fastball. More than once, Bragga has mentioned this class as being the most talented he’s ever had. Reinforcements are coming.
More talent is half the battle. Bragga knows you can’t win without the players. But arranging those pieces into a cohesive unit takes time and deliberate influence. That’s piece is much harder to quantify.
“When you get chemistry, when you get culture built in the right direction, that’s when you can accomplish things that no one thinks you can accomplish. And and and that’s where we’re going. And I believe that with all my heart,” Bragga said, looking back at what the Owls were able to achieve this season.
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Culture, a buzzword of all buzzwords, is tested during hard times. A baseball team can’t find much more of a challenging environment that Rice did this season. When asked if the disappointing start slowed down the progress his team was making on the culture side, Bragga remained undeterred.
“For 2-14, Holy Smokes, I couldn’t ask for it to be better. It was fantastic. There was great chemistry and our players would say the same thing.”
Creating that engaged mindset through the midst of a ‘worst case scenario’ start is the baseball version of threading the needle. That Rice could hold constant through the storm, let alone come out ahead, could be evidence that Bragga’s roadmap to success is rooted in the right requirements. All we can do is take Bragga’s word for it. To this point, there’s been no evidence to the contrary.
Culture has been on his mind since he arrived, transitioning that intangible asset into black and white wins is the next step. One his team wasn’t able to take as often as they could have this season.
Thanks to recent NCAA legislation, the majority of those players are set to return to campus in 2021. Bragga’s perception will be put to the test. He’s not naive to that. He acknowledged “we’ve got work to do to get [this program] where it needs to go.”
Culture plus Talent equals wins remains the marching orders for Rice baseball. Thankfully, more talent is on the way.
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