KU freshman pitcher proving to be one of nation’s best

KU freshman pitcher proving to be one of nation’s best

LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Dom Voegele impressed the KU coaching staff so much throughout his senior year of high school that its biggest concern was whether or not he’d play college baseball.

The Columbia, Illinois native had a 2023 spring season stellar enough to attract pro scouts, and stellar enough to be drafted. The Jayhawks are thrilled the 6-foot-2 righty turned down the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected him in the 20th round last summer. Big 12 opponents, on the other hand, are likely wishing he would’ve gone pro.

Through nine starts, the 18-year-old Jayhawk has the third-best ERA in the Big 12, while also ranking top five in the league for wins and innings pitched. He’s holding opposing hitters to a .212 batting average.

“It’s a great arsenal, it’s a great athlete, it’s a great competitor, so, really not surprising,” KU head coach Dan Fitzgerald said after Voegele struck out 10 on Saturday, becoming the first Jayhawk freshman to do so since 1984.

His 2.52 ERA is fifth among all DI freshman in the country. He’s top 10 in the Big 12 with 50 strikeouts, too. Simply put, the KU rookie has done what few can claim: Made the transition to college baseball look like a breeze.

“They’re all still guys I used to watch on TV,” Voegele admitted to 27 News, after his start against the Pacific Tigers. “So it’s all pretty cool to me.”

Has he surprised himself?

“Yeah a little bit,” Voegele said. “But most of it is pretty much just the same stuff I did in high school. Just go out there, do my thing. Compete.”

He’s obviously impressing his teammates, including a guy who knows a thing or two about stellar first-year campaigns.

“Dom’s been really good for us,” KU sophomore infielder Kodey Shojinaga said. “He has elite stuff and he’s been pitching his butt off. I’m proud of that kid because he works hard and he’s been competing.”

Shojinaga won Big 12 Freshman of the Year a season ago.

“He’s been incredible,” KU junior catcher/ first baseman Ben Hartl said. “He’s incredible to work with on a day-to-day basis. He’s been everything we’ve needed and he does his job.”

The fastball, curveball, slider mix is what might be giving even the heart of power five batting orders nightmares after a weekend in Lawrence. However, it’s his poise, maturity and composure that have Fitzgerald calling him ‘a unicorn.’

“We have guys that are juniors and seniors that need to have the same type of maturity that Dom has as an 18-year-old freshman,” Fitzgerald, in year two leading the program, said. “…Very steady, very consistent, very calm. There’s not a whole lot of sped up in that brain.”

Look no further than a quality start of six innings innings and just three earned runs last weekend, despite getting rocked on the very first pitch of the game, and handing over the lead two batters later on a triple. For the Big 12’s top freshman pitcher, it’s an unusually simplistic mindset that just might be the key to keeping his cool when the going gets tough.

“It’s baseball,” Voegele said. “Sometimes you give up a hit. Just got to get right back in there and attack the next guy.”

The young and shining KU starter has thrown six innings in each of his last five starts, allowing just 1.8 earned runs per outing in that span. He’s yet to allow more than three runs in a collegiate start.

Voegele and the 19-14 ‘Hawks visit Baylor for three games starting Friday, April 19.

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