Current, former and incoming Rice baseball players participated in Summer Ball leagues around the country. Here are the highlights from the summer.
Austin Bulman stole the show in the Valley Baseball League this summer. He led the league in doubles, finished second in hits and RBI and was top five in runs and homers on his way to an all-star game nod. There’s not much more he could have done this summer to build momentum as he returns to Rice.
Nathan Becker was contending with Bulman for the batting title in the VBL early on in the summer, finishing the season with a more than respectable .291 clip. Guy Garibay flashed in limited action, driving six of his 10 hits for extra bases.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, in a very positive way, was catcher Cullen Hannigan. Owner of eight collegiate at bats at Rice, Hannigan exploded in his return to the Expedition League. A year removed from slashing .183/.385/.256 last summer, Hannigan elevated his play across the board, slashing .340/.401/.450 this time around.
Matthew Linskey only appeared in four games but had the most encouraging final line. His 0.96 ERA would have led the league had he pitched enough innings to qualify. Nevertheless, his 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings with only one earned run allowed served as a subtle reinforcement that his brief flashes during the 2021 season weren’t aberrations.
Micah Davis and Dalton Wood each had a couple of off outings that marred otherwise promising summer seasons. Both saw plenty of action with Davis leading all Owls this summer with 20 punchouts.
Summer ball isn’t the end all be all, but with Jose Cruz Jr. doing all he can to restock the talent pool at South Main, seeing so many encouraging performances is a positive sign. The depth that has been lacking in previous years might be on its way, and everyone is going to have to fight for their spot in the lineup.
Younger players like Linskey and Becker are continuing to develop and this summer served as an added reminder they’re got more to give Rice baseball in the coming years.
*All stats as of August 2 taken from league and team websites.
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