UE baseball adds commitments from high school teammates

Shawnee Mission Northwest (Kansas) High School seniors Brandon Gomer and Nathan Reeder verbally committed to the University of Evansville on Saturday. The pair made official visits to UE on Friday, according to this story by Prep Baseball Report Kansas.

Reeder, a 5-foot-10 outfielder who bats and throws left-handed, announced the players’ decision on Twitter Saturday morning.

Reeder batted leadoff for Shawnee Northwest last season, posting an on-base percentage above .500 en route to Class 6A all-state honors.

Gomer is a 6-foot-4, 175-pound pitcher. The right-hander can throw his fastball 86-89 mph, according to Prep Baseball Report.

Teppen ties UE’s all-time saves record

After stopping five shots during the University of Evansville men’s soccer team’s 3-1 loss to St. Louis on Saturday, Eric Teppen finds himself in some pretty good company.

The senior goalkeeper from Harrison High School has 248 career saves, tied with Aces Hall of Fame member Trey Harrington for the school record. Harrington set basically all of UE’s goalie records in his second-team All-America campaign in 1990, including goals allowed (seven), goals against average (0.26) and solo shutouts (14).

The 6-foot-4 Teppen, a starter since his freshman season, will have an opportunity to surpass Harrington at home against Mercer on Friday. The match starts at 7:30 p.m. CDT at Arad McCutchan Stadium.

Another UE note: Kyle Freeland earned his second championship of 2014 on Saturday as a member of the Asheville Tourists, a Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The Tourists won the South Atlantic League title.

Freeland, a left-handed pitcher and 2014 first-round draft pick to the Rockies, was 2-0 for the Tourists with a 0.83 ERA. His combined stats with Asheville and the Rookie League Grand Junction (Colorado) Rockies: 3-0 record, 1.15 ERA, 39 innings pitched, 33 strikeouts and six walks.

Freeland was named the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year this spring.

 

Freeland helping Asheville Tourists in playoffs

Kyle Freeland

Kyle Freeland

Former University of Evansville left-hander Kyle Freeland is getting his first taste of professional playoff baseball.

Freeland, who started the summer in Rookie ball with the Grand Junction Rockies, has appeared in five games with the Low-A Asheville Tourists. He earned the win in his latest start on Thursday, allowing two runs in five innings as the Tourists defeated Savannah 8-3 in Game 1 of its best-of-five South Atlantic League playoff series.

Combining Freeland’s stats from Grand Junction and Asheville, the 2014 first-round draft pick is 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA. He has allowed 30 hits and six walks while striking out 33 in 39 innings.

Here are some statistical updates on other former UE players in the minors:

Kyle Pollock (catcher, Idaho Falls Chukars, Rookie League): .299 avg., 2 HRs, 26 RBIs, 11 doubles, 42 G, 144 AB.

Sam Johns (RHP, 3 teams ranging from Rookie to Single-A): 17 appearances, 3-2 record, 4 saves in 7 opportunities, 3.86 ERA, 25.2 IP, 22 H, 4 BB, 1.01 WHIP.

Eric Staments (shortstop, Arkansas Travelers, Double-A): .235 avg., 4 HR, 23 RBIs, 13 doubles, 106 G, 344 AB.

Kyle Lloyd (RHP, Fort Wayne Tincaps, Single-A): 27 appearances, 21 starts, 6-5 record, 3.61 ERA, 119.2 IP, 114 H, 34 BB, 1.24 WHIP.

 

Left-handed pitcher commits to Evansville

Alex Weigand, a left-handed pitcher from Bradley-Bourbonnais (Illinois) Community High School, announced his commitment to the University of Evansville Saturday on Twitter.

The class of 2015 prospect went 6-2 with a 1.22 earned-run average as a junior this spring. He is listed at 6-foot-2 and — according to this scouting report from Prep Baseball Report — possesses a fastball in the 83-87 mph range and a “highly advanced” curveball with a “12/6 shape” and “late, sharp, biting action.”

Former UE batterymates meet in minors

Kyle Pollock and Kyle Freeland — catcher and ace pitcher, respectively, on the University of Evansville’s 2014 baseball team — squared off for the first time as pros Thursday night.

Freeland started on the mound for the Grand Junction (Colorado) Rockies while Pollock was behind the plate and batting fifth for the Idaho Falls Chukars, a Rookie League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

Both players took something positive from the experience. Freeland tossed five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out five. The left-hander left the game with a 4-0 lead and improved his ERA to 1.56.

Pollock recorded one of the Chukars’ three hits against his former teammate. He finished 1-for-2 against Freeland with a groundout in the second inning and a single to right field in the fourth. Pollock’s season batting average is at .299 through those at-bats.

Updates on Kyle Freeland, Mislav Brzoja and a UE men’s basketball target

Some news and notes regarding University of Evansville athletics:

— Former UE left-hander and 2014 MLB first-round draft pick Kyle Freeland made his second professional start Monday night for the Grand Junction (Colorado) Rockies, Colorado’s Rookie League affiliate.

Freeland tossed three innings, allowing four hits and one earned run while striking out two. In his first appearance, Freeland pitched two scoreless innings, so his ERA is currently a solid 1.80.

Mislav Brzoja, a 6-4 guard who has three season of eligibility remaining with the Aces beginning with 2014-15, is midway through the European Championships playing for Croatia’s U20 national team.

Through five games in which Croatia has gone 2-3, the Villanova transfer is averaging 30 minutes, 9.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Brzoja is also tied for the team high with 3.4 turnovers per game.

Although Brzoja is not currently working out on campus like many of his UE teammates, playing in a structured environment (and for 30 minutes per game) against quality competition is a productive use of his summer. And Aces fans probably like those rebounding numbers considering UE finished second-to-last in rebounding margin last year in the Missouri Valley Conference (minus-2.1).

The U20 European Championships are being held in Crete, Greece.

— This tweet from Wednesday lists Evansville among four Division I schools that have offered scholarships to Class of 2015 forward Dean Wade.

The 6-foot-8 Wade averaged 22.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.7 blocks during his junior season for St. John (Kansas) High School. His team finished 26-0 and won the Class 2A state title.

Here is a video of Wade dunking in the state championship game that is pretty entertaining for three reasons: 1) it’s a nice move; 2) the commentator cackles like a madman; and 3) Wade gets knocked over awkwardly by the guy taking the ball out of bounds.

Wade is listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

Freeland throws two scoreless innings in pro debut

Kyle Freeland’s much-hyped professional debut was short-lived, but the two innings he did pitch were characteristic of his stellar performance at the University of Evansville.

The Colorado Rockies’ 2014 first-round draft choice made his professional debut Wednesday night with Colorado’s Rookie League affiliate — the Grand Junction (Colorado) Rockies — and threw two shutout innings while hurling 15 of his 17 pitches for strikes.

Freeland struck out two batters, allowed three hits and touched 96 mph on the radar gun, according to this tweet from a Grand Junction sportswriter.

Freeland was the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA during his junior season. He ranked in the top five in Division I in strikeouts (128), strikeouts per nine innings (11.56) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.67). The Rockies selected him eighth overall in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, then signed him to a contract with a $2.3 million signing bonus.

UE summer baseball assignments

The University of Evansville athletic department released the summer-league destinations of 17 baseball players. The Aces will play in eight different collegiate leagues across the country, from the nearby Dubois County Bombers (Joe Redburn, Eric McKibban) to St. Cloud, Minnesota (Matt Rodgers, Northwoods League), to Marysville, California (Alex Gould, Horizon Air Summer Series).

Here is the complete list of summer assignments for UE players:

PLAYER TEAM LEAGUE
Max Foley Hamilton Joes Great Lakes League
Alex Gould Marysville Gold Sox Horizon Air Summer Series
Brian Jestice Hamilton Joes Great Lakes League
Brent Jurceka Waterloo Bucks Northwoods League
Eric McKibban Dubois County Bombers Ohio Valley League
Stewart Nelson DuPage County Hounds Midwest Collegiate League
Jarod Perry Sedalia Bombers M.I.N.K League
Kyle Pollock Waterloo Bucks Northwoods League
Jonathan Ramon Sedalia Bombers M.I.N.K League
Joe Redburn Dubois County Bombers Ohio Valley League
Matt Rodgers St. Cloud Rox Northwoods League
Patrick Schnieders Richmond RiverRats Prospect League
Shain Showers Sedalia Bombers M.I.N.K League
Tyler Sullivan Northern Ohio Baseball Club Tri-State League
Boomer Synek Mankato MoonDogs Northwoods League
Jimmy Ward Hamilton Joes Great Lakes League
Devin Williams Hamilton Joes Great Lakes League

UE’s Freeland No. 8 pick in Baseball America Mock Draft 3.0

Kyle Freeland, University of Evansville’s left-handed ace, was tabbed as the No. 8 overall pick in the Baseball America Mock Draft 3.0. The projection has the Denver native going to his hometown Colorado Rockies.

Freeland, a junior, had been projected as the No. 4 pick in the Mock Draft 2.0, but struggled in his final start of the season. In the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, he lasted a season-low five innings and allowed five hits, four earned runs and an uncharacteristic four walks. The Aces lost that game 9-1 to Southern Illinois and dropped an 8-6 decision to Wichita State the following day, likely ending their season after winning the program’s second regular-season MVC championship.

The MVC Pitcher of the Year finished the season 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA, 128 strikeouts and 13 walks in 99 2/3 innings.

It’s difficult to determine whether Freeland’s rocky final outing played a role in sliding a few slots in the Baseball America’s projections, but his overall body of work is expected to keep him in the top 10 overall picks. That means a big payday, as shown by this list of the MLB’s assigned signing bonus values for each draft slot. Each player chosen in the top 10 picks is expected to receive a signing bonus of about $3 million or more.

These draft values are just guidelines; teams and players may agree on signing bonuses higher or lower than the amount shown. Franchises add the assigned values of all of their picks together and draw from that pool to provide bonuses to new draftees. They can surpasses their allotted bonus pool amount, but are penalized if they do so via taxation or — in extreme cases — loss of draft picks.

UE baseball needs some MVC tourney magic for NCAA bid

Considering the Missouri Valley Conference is the sixth-best baseball league in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), one would guess that the outright regular-season champion is a lock for an NCAA tournament bid, right?

Wrong.

The University of Evansville, after dropping a 9-1 decision to No. 8 seed Southern Illinois on Tuesday, is in serious danger of missing the tournament.

Despite beating Indiana State by a game in the MVC, the Aces — who dropped to 34-20 Tuesday — entered the week far behind the Sycamores (35-14) in the RPI. Indiana State was 18th in Monday’s rankings, third-place MVC team Dallas Baptist was 34th and UE was 62nd. Complete RPI rankings can be found here.

Typically, teams need to be in the top 50 of the RPI to have a shot at an at-large bid. I think UE would be in the conversation if it made it to Saturday’s MVC tournament championship game, which would require winning four straight games Wednesday through Friday. Of course, the only way to ensure an NCAA berth is to grab the automatic bid by winning the conference tournament.

Freeland listed as No. 5 draft prospect by Baseball America

University of Evansville junior Kyle Freeland was ranked No. 5 on Baseball America’s list of top 100 prospects for the upcoming MLB draft.

Freeland, who is 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA this season, is the third left-handed pitcher on the list. Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego) is the top prospect and Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) is No. 3.

Freeland was also named to the 80-player watch list for the Gregg Olson Award, which goes to college baseball’s breakout player of the year. Dallas Baptist’s Brandon Koch, Illinois State’s Paul DeJong and Wichita State’s A.J. Ladwig also made the watch list from the Missouri Valley Conference.

 

UE among three MVC baseball teams in latest NCAA tourney projections

Two of this week’s NCAA baseball bracketology reports have the same three teams from the Missouri Valley Conference making the tournament field: Evansville, Indiana State and Dallas Baptist.

College Sports Madness’ projections list UE in the Nashville Regional along with host Vanderbilt (which UE beat 8-3 on Feb. 26), Liberty and St. Louis. In the College Baseball Daily projections, the Aces are slotted as the No. 4 seed in the University of Texas’ regional. Washington and Texas A&M are also listed in that four-team pod.

While Evansville’s inclusion in these projections is an encouraging sign for Aces fans, it’s important to note what type of bid UE is receiving. Both of these bracketologies have UE pegged as the automatic bid from the MVC, which goes to the winner of next week’s conference tournament in Terre Haute.

If UE — which is leading the MVC with a 14-4 league record — doesn’t win the conference tournament, the Aces could easily end up on the wrong side of the bubble. Despite trailing Evansville in the conference standings, Indiana State (17th in the RPI) and Dallas Baptist (37th in the RPI) are considered the stronger at-large candidates and, therefore, more sure bets to make the NCAA tournament. UE is 56th in the RPI.

The Aces were rained out Tuesday at SIU-Edwardsville in their final nonconference game of the season. They travel to Missouri State for a three-game series Thursday-Saturday.

OTHER UE ATHLETICS NEWS:

—Three UE squads — women’s golf, women’s tennis and women’s cross country — were recognized by the NCAA for strong Academic Progress Rates (APR). The golf and cross country teams were honored for the fifth consecutive year, while the tennis team was recognized for a second straight year.

These teams posted multi-year APRs in the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sports.

The women’s cross country team finished the year with a 3.573 GPA, tops among all of UE’s 14 sports.

— Eight UE student-athletes received academic excellence awards Saturday from the Missouri Valley Conference Presidents Council.

The athletes, along with the GPAs and sports they compete in, are as follows: Kelby Jenkins (4.0 – Cross Country), Stephanie Thompson (3.993 – Women’s Soccer), Jacqueline Carlson (3.952 – Cross Country), James Kohler (3.941 – Baseball), Daniel Musselwhite (3.932 – Swimming/Diving), Melissa Ball (3.903 – Swimming/Diving), Lauren Seyller (3.827 – Volleyball) and Rachel TenHoor (3.824 – Volleyball).