Entering Year 3 under head coach Jose Cruz Jr the Rice baseball roster is starting to take shape. Here are a few names to know on the mound.
Rice baseball has a frontline ace and lots of unproven potential on the mound entering the 2024 season. In their second season under pitching coach Parker Bangs, the entire pitching staff will look to take a step forward. Here are the key pieces the Owls will have to work with on the mound this season.
Rice lost arguably its two most talented bullpen arms to the MLB Draft this past offseason as Matthew Linskey and Justin Long moved on to test the professional ranks. Also departing are veterans Garret Zaskoda and Krishna Raj.
The best news for the Rice baseball pitching staff should be the starting rotation. The Owls bring back staff ace Parker Smith, who dazzled on Friday nights last year and should do so again. Behind him, JD McCracken should be the frontrunner for Saturdays with Sunday less certain at this point. Tyler Hamilton is thought to be a strong contender for that spot right now.
The bullpen is where things get tricky. Jack Ben-Shoshan is probably the most trustworthy known quantity there, but another year of development should be promising for players like Garrett Stratton and Ryland Urbancyzk.
Micah Davis should make his return at some point, recovering from an injury that forced him to miss last season. Mauricio Rodriguez, Reed Gallant and Tom Vincent will provide some veteran depth as some of the younger players come along throughout the season.
Added to the Mix
The back end of the bullpen likely offers the most opportunity for new faces to make a name for themselves in the early goings of the season. Given the lack of established horses, a newcomer who compiles a couple of solid outings could warrant a longer runway for evaluation. Davion Hickson is one such name to monitor.
Hickson joins Rice from Florida State, although he only pitched one inning for the Seminoles before transferring to South Main. He was a name singled out by veteran catcher Manny Garza before spring workouts began, along with freshman righty Jake Melvin.
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