LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech baseball opened its fall team practices on Monday afternoon at Dan Law Field with 44 players, including seven returning position players and six returning pitchers from last season.
"It is great getting out here, we are ready to see our guys play," head coach Dan Spencer said. "This gives us a chance to start seeing who is going to play where and who are going to be our guys who pitch. We are ready to get going."
The team's opening practice included a round of batting practice before the defense worked on cuts and relays. Then the squad split in half for a scrimmage around 4 p.m.
The recruiting class that Spencer and his coaching staff brought in feature three players that have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft during their careers. Freshman outfielder Andre Wheeler (Austin, Texas – Anderson HS) was drafted in the 22nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers and redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Christian (Southlake, Texas – Weatherford JC) was also drafted in 2010 by the New York Mets in the 41st round.
Junior left-handed pitcher Daniel Coulombe (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was drafted in the 17th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He came to Lubbock after spending a year at USC (2009) and one season at South Mountain Community College (2010).
The Red Raiders also return four of its top five hitters from a year ago, including Freshmen All-Americans Barrett Barnes and Jamodrick McGruder.
Barnes batted .341 with 19 doubles, 14 home runs and 53 RBI during his first collegiate campaign while McGruder hit .322 with seven home runs, 32 RBI and led the team with 23-of-27 stolen bases.
Other top hitters returning are senior infielder Nick Popescu (.324, 6 HR, 41 RBI), junior outfielder Scott LeJeune (.323, 28 doubles, 41 RBI), junior infielder Stephen Hagen (.333, 3 HR, 11 RBI) and junior catcher Kevin Whitehead (.309, 4 HR, 19 RBI).
The Tech pitching staff has several returners, including junior lefty Ben Flora, who tied for the team lead in 2010 with 25 appearances while making six starts. Flora went 3-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 37 innings with 36 strikeouts.
Also back on the mound for the Red Raiders are Joe Burnett (So., RHP), John Neely (Jr., RHP), Brennan Stewart (Jr., RHP), Scott Erzinger (So., LHP) and Brandon Petite (So., RHP).
Fall Practice Schedule:
Monday – 2:15 p.m.
Tuesday – 2:15 p.m.
Wednesday – 4 p.m.
Thursday – 2:15 p.m.
Friday – 2:15 p.m.
Saturday – OFF
Sunday – 1 p.m.
©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.