October 04, 2012
The Cal baseball program has released its roster for fall ball, located HERE.
A few notes based on the roster: Senior outfielder Darrell Matthews, who hit .266 in 47 games last season starting in center field and left, is not on the fall roster, and is taking the semester off. He will likely be back by the time spring practice begins.
Senior outfielder Vince Bruno is still on the roster, but is not practicing after undergoing hip surgery during the offseason. He is expected to take a redshirt this season.
PREMIUM VIDEO: Campbell, Reuvekamp, Egber Take BP
The absence of the two veteran outfielders opens up some room for the youngsters, including redshirt freshman Brian Celsi, true freshman Grant Diede and true freshman Sean Peters, who have been taking first reps during the fall. Peters is a bit light in the hitting department, but has a very strong arm and can cover quite a bit of ground in right.
Another name to watch in the outfield is sweet-swinging right Devin Pearson. The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder is a pure athlete with very good speed and fantastic bat control. Every bunt he lays down is just about picture-perfect. He will definitely push for playing time.
PREMIUM VIDEO: Freshmen Take Their Cuts
Another youngster to watch is walk-on John Soteropulos. Before all is said and done, it will be difficult to keep his glove off the field. He has tremendous range at second base, good instincts and has very good footwork. He'll rush the play sometimes, but the fundamentals are there for a very solid middle infielder. He'll be competing primarily with redshirt freshman Brenden Farney, who was drafted in the 36th round by the Oakland A's coming out of Vacaville High in 2011. Farney's bat is a bit further along than Soteropulos's at the moment, and it looks like the 5-foot-9, 201-pounder has been focusing on keeping the ball low and driving it, instead of trying to hit it out of the park.
It is still a strong possibility that Cal fans may see eighth-round MLB draft pick Nick Halamandaris at one of the corner spots if he's not DH'ing. Every ball he's hit this fall has been on the screws, and he rarely gets fooled. Of course, it's very unlikely he'll see time at his natural position -- first base -- because of incumbent Devon Rodriguez, who has looked phenomenal in the fall after missing the majority of the 2012 season with a knee injury. Rodriguez has really learned how to work within the constraints of Evans Diamond, which is notoriously difficult on left-handed power hitters. During the last scrimmage, Rodriguez socked a low liner off the wall in right-center field for a stand-up double, with the ball never getting higher than about 30 feet in the air.
PREMIUM VIDEO: Vets Back to Work in BP
True freshman Mitchell Kranson has been playing a lot of third base. He is still refining his game at the hot corner, and, as the staff says, his bat plays. Though brought in initially as a catcher, he doesn't have a true position, and with stud 2013 backstop John Riley coming in next fall and Brett Cumberland the year after, it looks like Kranson could turn into this class's Allen Craig, who played all over the diamond in his career at Cal before making the Major Leagues as an outfielder/first baseman. The same thing -- that his bat plays -- was said of Craig throughout his career in Berkeley.
Andrew Knapp will start at catcher this season, and has looked phenomenal in fall games. Every ball he's put in play has been well-struck, and in the last scrimmage, he went 4-for-5. Knapp wore No. 6 his freshman season, and 15 last season. This year, he will wear No. 5, while the former owner of that numeral -- shortstop Derek Campbell -- will switch to No. 2.
Behind Knapp this year, Cal will have two primary back-up catchers in Alex Egber and Jesse Kay, a true freshman out of San Diego (Calif.) Cathedral Catholic. Kay is a very strong defensive catcher who missed most of his senior year with the same hip surgery as Bruno underwent.