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Shriners Notebooks: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Scout Takes: | | | | TCU
What Happened: The Longhorns played a really exciting weekend of baseball at the Shriners College Classic, with three straight one-run ballgames. They lost an exciting one on Friday night to LSU in front of an extremely raucous crowd, held on to beat Arkansas in a game they led 8-0 but won 8-7 on Saturday and then lost a very back-and-forth affair to Baylor on Sunday. They sit at 14-3 overall so the season is off to a very good start, and despite the 1-2 trip to Minute Maid, it's a very optimistic feeling surrounding Texas right now.
Carrying Tool: Pitching. Bryce Elder and Ty Madden at the front of the rotation have been absolutely dynamic, with Elder looking more and more like a top three rounder in this year's draft while Madden is trending towards the first in 2021. Coy Cobb has held his own on Sundays and the bullpen combination of Pete Hansen, Dawson Merryman and Andre Duplantier has been lights out, with solid contributions from a host of others, including Kamron Fields. There's some inconsistencies there from outing to outing for Fields, but he retains tremendous late-inning upside as a potential closer.
Concerns: The offense. With the exception of senior outfielder Austin Todd, Texas has no everyday starter with an OPS over .800 and the team slash line reads .257/.350/.385. There's a lack of punch to the offense right now, as well as a lack of consistency, which is somewhat surprising given the veteran presence of Duke Ellis, Zach Zubia and Cam Williams in the middle of that order. None of that aforementioned three are necessarily performing poorly, there's just not a lot of power from any of them yet.
Best Player on the Field: Bryce Elder and Ty Madden. Elder was sensational on Friday night against LSU and Madden followed with a sterling performance on Saturday. Elder has a 2.08 ERA in 26 innings with 32 strikeouts as compared to only seven walks while Madden has a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings, with 26 strikeouts and just four walks. That kind of production is going to get the job done, and they've become one of college baseball's best 1-2 punches atop the rotation. If they continue along like that, Texas will have a chance to win two out of every three games on the weekend all year, even if the offense doesn't perk up in a big way.
Fearless Forecast: Back to the postseason. Texas obviously made quite the run to Omaha in 2018, but fell back in 2019 to a .500 record, missing the postseason entirely. That shouldn't be the case this year, and the Longhorns look like they have the star power as well as depth in the pitching staff to pitch their way into the postseason. If the offense should perk back up in terms of power production, there's a chance for a deep run here.
Previous player reports:
Feb. 28: Bryce Elder
Feb. 29: Ty Madden
March 1: Coy Cobb, Kamron Fields
Players covered: Eric Kennedy, Trey Faltine, Andre Duplantier, Camyrn Williams, Austin Todd.
Eric Kennedy, OF
An extremely athletic, live-bodied outfielder, Eric Kennedy is starting in left field for the Longhorns and hitting well, staying mostly inline with his freshman year performance with a .754 OPS. He's extremely interesting in terms of athleticism and speed, who can really burn down the line and is a threat to bunt for a hit at any time. He's strong, physical athlete who has some raw power at his disposal, though his offensive approach is not as much to take advantage of that power as it is to put the ball in play and speed down the line.
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