2014 USF baseball season recap

Posted: June 2, 2014 in Baseball

The season is over and a lot of change is coming for the baseball program over the next year. The Bulls finished the year at 27-31 (10-14 in the AAC) and were just 15-17 at home. Coach Lelo Prado is moving to an administration job in athletics as well, meaning a new coach heading into 2015. Let’s break down the numbers and see what the Bulls accomplished during the year, what each player did, and what lies ahead for this program.

USF began the season with high hopes and even higher ones after they started the year at 7-0. However, despite the strong start, the offense, which mustered just 9 home runs as a team and a .258 batting average during the year, let the Bulls down game after game. Coach Prado continued to say in each week, pointing the Bulls were always just a key hit away from breaking through, but it never came. The pitching staff, led by ace Jimmy Herget, had a 3.47 ERA and kept USF in nearly every game, but the lack of the big offense hurt the Bulls even till the end. USF had a chance to sneak into the NCAA tournament at the AAC tournament in Clearwater, but the Bulls lost to Memphis, denying them a chance at the tournament title.

Prado finished his 8 year career with the Bulls with a 251-221 record. He had 3 losing seasons (including this one) and never advanced the Bulls to the NCAA tournament and failed to claim a Big East/AAC regular season title or tournament title. The search for the new coach is already underway.

Now, here are what the players did during the course of the season (players like Mike Farley and Michael Arencibia appeared with the team at the start of the year, but are no longer on the roster. The final stats will be for players that are still currently on the roster).

#51 Joe Adel – 6’7″ 215 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore – RHP – Gainesville, HS (Buchholz HS)

Adel appeared in 10 games, making 1 start. He ended the year with a 2-2 record and had a 9.24 ERA. Adel worked 12.2 innings, allowing 21 hits, 14 runs (12 earned), 9 walks, striking out 8 batters and allowed opponents to hit .382 against him. Adel will have to continue to work on his command through the winter.

#8 Nik Alfonso – 5’9″ 180 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore – SS/2B – Tampa, FL (Tampa Catholic HS)

After batting over .300 last year and being tabbed all conference before the year started, Alfonso struggled in 2014. He started 50 out of 52 games. He batted .234 (36 for 154) with 19 runs scored, 2 doubles, and drove in 21 RBIs. He walked 14 times and struck out 24 times, ending the year with a .343 OBP. He committed 11 errors and ended the year with a .944 fielding percentage. Alfonso struggled with the bat and at times in the field. I see Alfonso coming back in 2015 with a more clear mind and the results will come for him.

#38 Joe Altieri – 6′ 200 lbs. – Sophomore – C – Tampa, FL (Jesuit HS)

Altieri started 6 games out of 12 appearances as the back-up behind Levi Borders. He batted 5 for 30 (.167 average) with 4 runs scored, 6 RBIs, walking 6 times and struck out 6 times (.188 OBP). Altieri sat behind the 2nd team All AAC catcher, so playing time was limited at best for him and could be the same heading into 2015.

#6 Jonathan Bennett – 5’9″ 165 lbs. – Freshman – INF – Escambia, FL (Pensacola HS)

Bennett did not play in 2014. Coming out of high school he was a two time team captain and batted .404 in his senior season.

#12 Levi Borders – 6’3″ 185 lbs. – Sophomore – C – Winter Haven, FL (Winter Haven HS)

Borders was named 2nd team All AAC this season. He started 54 out of the 55 games he appeared in. He batted .243 (46 for 189) with 25 runs scored, 11 doubles, his first career home run, and drove in 20 runs. He walked 17 times and struck out 41 times ending the year with a .341 OBP and had 1 steal. Along with a solid bat, Borders was solid from behind the plate, limiting steal attempts and committing just 4 errors all year (.990 fielding percentage).

#4 Luke Borders – 6’3″ 198 lbs. – Freshman – INF/OF/DH – Winter Haven, FL (Winter Haven HS)

Borders was named third team All AAC as a DH in his first year as a Bull. Luke started in 42 games in 47 games he appeared in. He batted .272 (41 for 151) with 22 runs scored, 6 doubles, 1 home run, and drove in 22 runs. He ended the year with a .331 SLG and a .341 OBP with 12 walks and struck out 28 times. Borders showed flashes of his ability to hit and should become an even bigger threat moving forward.

#24 Michael Clarkson – 6’1″ 205 lbs. – Junior – RHP – Dunedin, FL (Dunedin HS)

Clarkson did not play in 2014 as he recovered from surgery. He will be a key player in 2015 that will join a loaded USF pitching staff. He will be back and ready to go next season.

#16 Zac Gilcrease – 6’2″ 175 lbs. – Junior – 3B – Tampa, FL (Cambridge Christian HS)

Gilcrease started 42 out of 55 games he appeared in. He batted .253 (41 for 162) with 17 runs, 3 doubles, 3 triples, 1 home run, and drove in 17 RBIs. He walked 7 times and struck out 28 batters, ending the year with a .291 OBP. Gilcrease should be the starting 3rd baseman for the Bulls next year and will have to get more consistent at the plate to continue to get on base.

#20 Jimmy Herget – 6’3″ 165 lbs. – Sophomore – RHP – Tampa, FL (Jefferson HS)

Herget, 1st team All AAC, had a huge season for the Bulls and proved again why he was the ace of the staff. Herget made 15 starts and ended the year with a 8-6 record with a 1.26 ERA. Herget worked 107.1 innings, allowing 91 hits, 25 runs (15 earned), while walking just 27 batters and struck out 90 batters (.233 batting average against him). Herget never had a lot of run support, but he pitched his heart out and kept the Bulls in every game he started. He is the ace of the staff and heading into 2015, he will be the ace once more and should help lead the way for the Bulls as they try to get to the postseason.

#19 Cody Hernandez – 6′ 180 lbs. – Sophomore – RHP – Tampa, FL (Tampa Catholic HS)

Hernandez had a solid season, mainly as a relief pitcher. He appeared in 14 games (1 start) and ended with a 1-1 record and a 1.66 ERA. He worked 21.2 innings, allowing 27 hits, 9 runs (4 earned), walking 6 and struck out 7 batters. Hernandez showed some flashes of what he can become and with another year under a new staff he should break out in 2015.

#15 Hayden Kelley – 6’2″ 200 lbs. – Sophomore – OF – Tampa, FL (Miami Dade CC)

Kelley appeared in 34 games, starting 14. He batted .200 (14 for 70) with 12 runs scored, 1 double, 5 RBIs, and ended the year with a .309 OBP and stole 2 out of 3 bases. Kelley was a pinch runner at times as well in his limited playing time.

#13 Brandon Lawson – 6’2″ 200 lbs. – Freshman – RHP – Spring Hill, FL (Hernando HS)

Lawson showed flashes of becoming a solid starter for the Bulls. He appeared in 16 games, making 9 starts and working out of the bullpen at times during the year. He had a 3-1 record with a 3.74 ERA. Lawson worked 53 innings, allowing 62 hits, 30 runs (22 earned), walking 17 times and struck out 27 batters. Lawson should become a key starter next year, possibly the number three (depending if Mulholland is drafted). He is one to keep an eye on moving into 2015.

#9 Andres Leal – 5’8″ 185 lbs. – Freshman – UTL – Tampa, FL (Tampa Catholic HS)

Leal appeared in 30 games, starting 19 of them. He batted .293 (22 for 75) with 9 runs scored, 2 doubles, and drove in 8 runs. He had 9 walks, and struck out 15 times, ending the year with a .365 OBP in limited playing time. Leal showed some flashes with his bat, but struggled late in the year on defense with his footwork. With another year, he should be able to work on his fielding and could be a bat to watch in 2015.

 #14 Vincent Leto – 5’10” 170 lbs. – Sophomore – OF – Tampa, FL (Jesuit HS)

Leto started 2 games out of 11 appearances. He batted 3 for 12 with 4 runs scored with 2 doubles and in 5 runs. He had 5 walks to just 3 strike outs.

#7 Austin Lueck – 6′ 215 lbs. – Junior – OF – Daytona Beach, FL (Lake Brantley HS)

Lueck started 35 games out of 48 appearances. He batted .277 (38 for 137) with 19 runs scored, 11 doubles, 1 triple, and added 11 RBIs. He walked 15 times (35 strike outs) and had a .364 OBP and stole 10 bases out of 12 attempts. Lueck showed his ability to get on base and could be a key lead-off hitter or a player that can help the offense get runners moving. He should he a key if he returns for his senior season.

#18 Luke Maglich – 6’3″ 190 lbs. – Sophomore – OF – Sarasota, FL (Riverview HS)

Maglich started 47 out of 54 games. He batted .244 (46 for 164) with 20 runs scored, 5 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs, and drove in 30 RBIs. He had a .348 slugging percentage and walked 29 times (44 strike outs) ending the year with a .355 OBP (was 4 for 4 in steals). Maglich started the year hot and was a major center of the batting order, becoming a clean-up hitter. But he went into a long slump late in the year, being moved down in the batting order. I would expect an offseason for him to regroup, get back to the weight room, and a new coaching staff coming in will do wonders for him. Look for Maglich to come back in 2015.

#33 Vincent Miniet – 6′ 200 lbs. – Freshman – 3B – Tampa, FL (Jesuit HS)

Miniet made 18 starts in 31 games. He batted .169 (11 for 65) with 8 runs, 5 doubles, 1 home run, and drove in 6 runs. Miniet showed a little bit of power in very limited playing time. It will be interesting to see how he develops in the off-season.

#47 Casey Mulholland – 6’4″ 170 lbs. – Junior – RHP – Bradenton, FL (State College of Florida)

Mulholland went 4-3 in 18 starts for the Bulls, recording 1 save, and had a 3.65 ERA. He worked 88.2 innings, allowing 83 hits, 39 runs (36 earned), walking 38 and struck out 60 batters (.252 BA vs. him). Mulholland quickly became the number two arm for the Bulls, making a nice one-two punch in the weekend rotation behind Herget. Mulholland has the talent to get drafted by the MLB, so we have to hope and wait to see if he decides to return for his senior season.

#44 Brandon Murray – 6’6″ 230 lbs. – Freshman – RHP – Orlando, FL (West Orange HS)

Murray appeared in 15 games, making 1 start. He went 0-1 with a 6.32 ERA. Murray pitched 15.2 innings, allowing 20 hits, 15 runs (11 earned), walking 14 and struck out 10 batters. Murray has the size and frame needed to be a solid arm, either out of the bullpen or as a spot starter. He should progress in 2015.

#42 Lawrence Pardo – 6′ 190 lbs – Senior – LHP/1B – Miami, FL (Santa Fe College)

Pardo went from relief pitcher to starting at first base half way through the year. At the plate, where he started 28 out of 29 games, he batted .240 (25 for 104), with 17 runs, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 9 RBIs, walking 15 times and striking out 17 times (.342 OBP). On the mound, he appeared in 24 games, making 2 starts. He had a 1-2 record and a 4.22 ERA. He worked 34.1 innings, allowing 33 hits, 22 runs (18 earned), walking 27 batters and striking out 34.

#34 Justin Patrick – 6’5″ 205 lbs. – Sophomore – RHP – Cumberland, RI (Cumberland HS)

Patrick appeared in 8 games, making 1 start. He went 1-0 and had a 7.31 ERA. Patrick worked 7.1 innings, allowing 9 hits, 10 runs (6 earned), walking 7 and striking out 4 batters in limited action.

#37 Tommy Peterson – 6’1″ 205 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – RHP – New Port Richey, FL (River Ridge HS)

Peterson appeared in 17 games, making 7 starts. He went 3-4 with a 4.30 ERA, becoming the number three starter and splitting time with Brandon Lawson as a key starter in the rotation. He worked 46 innings, allowing 44 hits, 26 runs (22 earned), with 12 walks and struck out 30 batters. Peterson should continue to progress and should be a weekend starter for the Bulls moving forward.

#29 Daniel Portales – 6’3″ 205 lbs. – Freshman – OF/RHP – Tampa, FL (Jesuit HS)

Portales made 47 starts in 52 games. He batted .249 (44 for 177) with 18 runs, 4 doubles, and drove in 20 runs while drawing 21 walks and striking out 26 times (.345 OBP). Late in the year, he appeared in 2 games, working 1.2 innings, allowing 5 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, and struck out 1 batter (27 ERA). I believe Portales should continue to develop at the plate where he showed the most promise.

#5 Buddy Putnam – 6’3″ 185 lbs. – Junior – UTL – Bartow, FL (Bartow HS)

Putnam started in 41 games out of 47 appearances. He batted .248 (37 for 149) with 18 runs, scored, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, and he drove in 22 RBIs. He walked 8 times and struck out 23 times (.280 OBP). Putnam showed some power with his bat and if he returns, will be a key returning bat in 2015.

#27 Diego Rapalino – 6’4″ 180 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore – RHP – Barranquilla, Columbia (British International College)

Rapalino appeared in 5 games in 2013, he did not pitch an inning in 2014.

#17 Janick Serrallonga – 5’9″ 160 lbs. – Senior – LHP – Hialeah, FL (Champagnat Catholic HS)

Serrallonga appeared in 27 games and made 3 starts. He ended the year with a 2-3 record with 2 saves and a 2.13 ERA. He worked 50.2 innings, allowing 45 hits, 17 runs (12 earned), walking 19 and striking out 28 (.253 BA vs. him). Serrallonga ended his career with a big season, becoming one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for the Bulls.

 #2 Clay Simmons – 6’1″ 195 lbs. – Freshman – INF/OF – Centerhill, FL (South Sumter HS)

Simmons did not play in 2014.  Simmons was rated as one of the top 100 prospects in Florida by Baseball America for the 2013 MLB Draft, which included collegiate players and was named the FHSAA Player of the Year (2013). He was also a two-time team captain and hit over .300 every year in HS.

#10 Jordan Strittmatter – 6’3″ 200 lbs. – Junior – RHP – Apoka, FL (Lake Brantley HS)

Strittmatter became the closer for the Bulls. He appeared in 31 games, compiling a 1-2 record with 4 saves and a 1.93 ERA. He worked 28 innings, allowing 15 hits, 7 runs (6 earned), walking 15 and striking out 23. Strittmatter was a shutdown relief pitcher and will be a huge key heading into 2015 if he returns (could be taken in upcoming MLB draft).

#21 Blake Sydeski – 6’3″ 215 lbs. – Junior – C – Daytona Beach, FL (New Smyrna HS)

Sydeski did not play in 2014, becoming a reserve catcher behind Joe Altieri and starter Levi Borders.

#3 Kyle Teaf – 5’9″ 170 lbs. – Junior – SS – Tallahassee, FL (Trinity Catholic HS)

Teaf, the 1st team All AAC, became everything for the USF batting order and on defense up the middle. He batted .354 (74 for 209) with 41 runs scored, 7 doubles, 3 triples, and 22 RBIs. He walked 42 times and struck out just 26 times while stealing 7 bases out of 12 attempts. Teaf led the team in batting and became the game setter as the lead-off hitter. After a rocky start on offense to start the year, Teaf locked it down and became one of the best short stops in the league. Teaf could be drafted in the 2014 MLB (likely he will) and we all hope he returns for one more year.

#25 Nolan Thomas – 6′ 180 lbs. – Senior – LHP – Big Pine Key, FL (Tallahassee CC)

Thomas appeared in 12 games (dealt with injuries) and went 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA. He worked 7.2 innings, allowing 11 hits, 5 runs, walking 2 and striking out 2 batters in his final year as a Bull.

#40 Josh Walker – 6’6″ 200 lbs. – Freshman – LHP – Otisville, NY (Minisink Valley HS)

Walker appeared in 7 games (13.50 ERA). He worked 8 innings, allowing 14 hits, 12 runs, 3 walks, and struck out 3 batters.

Year in review: The Bulls had the pitching but the hitting just wasn’t there. Jimmy Herget, Casey Mulholland and the bullpen kept the Bulls in nearly every game as they battled to get to the postseason, but the offense failed to produce the big hit. Coach Prado said it over and over again, the Bulls were simply a key hit away in so many games from breaking through and it led to their downfall at the end of the year. Just 9 total home runs showed the lack of power the Bulls had throughout the year and it continually let the great pitching staff down. The Bulls never seemed to have an issue with getting runners on base, but bringing home would be the issue.

Looking ahead to 2015: Where do we start? Well, we need a new head coach to begin with. Lelo Prado is taking a role with the administration and the search for a new skipper is underway. Could Lance Carter or Chris Heintz be candidates, of course (from Prado’s staff) but something tells me AD Mark Harlan will bring in new blood to lead the program.

So, turning back to the team, the strength of the returning team will be the pitching staff. While Lawrence Pardo and Janick Serrallonga graduate, Jordan Strittmatter and Casey Mulholland could return (if they are not drafted). The Bulls return ace Jimmy Herget along with several young and promising arms. Brandon Lawson, Tommy Peterson, and others showed signs of becoming strong pitcher for this program and should give fans a lot of hope for the front line pitchers moving forward. The bullpen will need Strittmatter to return to put a few worries to rest, but if he doesn’t the Bulls will need the incoming recruiting class to challenge the returning roster to fill in the late inning options.

On offense, the answer is simple: We need POWER! 9 total runs won’t beat anyone in college baseball and the Bulls need an infusion of power into the batting order. Kyle Teaf could be drafted which would be a bad blow and others like Levi Borders are eligible for the draft, so that will be something to watch as well. However, the core of the batting order including promising hitters like Luke Borders will all return but they have to get better. Can Austin Lueck, Luke Maglich, and Zac Gilcrease show increased power in 2015? Will the incoming recruiting class add some spark to the batting order? It will all depend on the new coach and the staff they bring along with them.

As Joey Knight mentioned, USF has at least 39 applicants for the head coaching position, showing the high interest in the program. Whoever takes over for Prado will be inheriting a team with a lot of talent and in great shape moving forward. Brighter days are coming for the program.



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