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2018 Team Roster Projection

Posted on January 9, 2018, in Baseball by Karl Hess.

The NCAA mandates that D1 baseball teams can have no more than thirty five players on a roster. Currently, the roster at VirginiaSports.com displays the 2017 roster. That's because programs also do not have to finalize their roster until the day before the team's first game of the season. For UVA, the first game is February 16 against Central Florida in Orlando. 

We don't expect the Hoos to finalize and post their roster for public consumption until right at or near the deadline. Kendall and I are more than happy to fill that void via a little speculation. We got together over the last week and conducted a mock draft - power rankings of the UVA baseball players. The goal was to project the complete 2018 baseball roster based on the 2017 Orange and Blue World Series rosters which featured 39 players.

Draft Rules

  1. All 35 roster slots will be filled.
  2. All recruited first year players must be picked (Andrew Papantonis, Devin Ortiz, Brendan Rivoli, Andrew Abbott, Blake Rohm, Kyle Whitten, Christian Hlinka, Tanner Morris, Alex Tappen, Robb Adams, and Griff McGarry).
  3. Graduate transfer Mack Meyer must be picked.
  4. Noah Murdock receives a roster injury waiver due to his season long absence (our research leads us to believe this is allowable) so he will be on the team without being picked.
  5. Kendall gets first pick with picks alternating thereafter.
  6. Player selection order doubles as roster power rankings.

Let's get to it!

Pick 1:  Jake McCarthy (Outfielder)

Kendall:  Preseason All-American, baby! #1 pick, have to go with the best player on the team. I'll likely land my Friday starter with my next pick...

Pick 2:  Cameron Simmons (Outfielder)

Karl Hess:  We'll need someone to replace Pavin Smith's power numbers and Simmons is the best bet. Will likely be the starting RF all season.

Pick 3:  Derek Casey (Right Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  He's just the most "sure thing" among our returning starters. He certainly has ace potential, and I'm betting on him in my Friday night slot.

Pick 4:  Daniel Lynch (Left Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  And our likely Saturday Starter. We desperately need his excellent summer to translate to the regular season and postseason.

Pick 5:  Andy Weber (Infielder)

Kendall:  Not sure where, exactly, but sure he'll be a regular...and a regular contributor at the plate, building off of last season's solid showing.

Pick 6:  Justin Novak (Infielder)

Karl Hess:  Novak probably starts at 3B but I like him best at 2B (my assumption is that Weber starts at 2B) or in a super utility role. His versatility will keep him in the lineup all year and he functions like a second leadoff batter at the bottom of the lineup.

Pick 7:  Andrew Papantonis (Infielder)

Kendall:  I'm buying - hard - on the incoming freshman's talent.

Karl Hess:  I'm big on the freshman class. I think they're going to be special in their time on Grounds. I was wondering when the first one would pop.

Pick 8:  Nate Eikhoff (Infielder)

Karl Hess:  Eikhoff mostly platooned at 3B with Novak last season but I'm expecting him to start at 1B this year. Like Lynch, he had a nice summer as well. We won't get Pavin Smith type offense from Eikhoff. I'm expecting something like a poor man's Mark Grace or John Olerud.

Pick 9:  Griff McGarry (Right Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  Here's the second freshman to pop, Karl. There are a number of talented, incoming arms but I suspect that McGarry's is the most live, with the highest upside.

Pick 10:  Bennett Sousa (Left Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  I think Sousa will be one of our top two bullpen arms, probably in a long relief role. He gets a bump by virtue of being a lefty.

Pick 11:  Chesdin Harrington (Right Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  He only made 18 appearances last season, but I always liked what I saw. I think he's a key member of the 2018 bullpen.

Karl Hess:  Better than even odds that he's this year's Bettinger. I could see him closing or as a starter too under the right circumstances.

Pick 12:  Caleb Knight (Catcher)

Karl Hess:  Our starting catcher. If we get the Knight that broke out midseason with a hot streak, a lot of our offensive questions will be answered. If we get the Knight that slumped at the end of the season, we could see a platoon behind the plate.

Pick 13:  Devin Ortiz (Right Handed Pitcher or Infielder)

Kendall:  I'm a sucker for a) pitching depth, b) firebrand freshman, c) young contributors in general, and d) flamethrower righties. Ortiz checks the boxes! (I think he begins his UVA career on the mound, BTW.)

Pick 14:  Evan Sperling (Right Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  This feels about the right place for Sperling. He should be two years post Tommy John surgery now which is typically when players regain their true form after the procedure (Sperling had TJ surgery prior to coming to UVa). He has Sunday starter potential this season but I'm guessing he begins the season as a mid-week starter.

Pick 15:  Charlie Cody (Outfielder or Infielder)

Kendall:  Senior utility player, swings a decent bat with some good power potential. Oak has a track record of finding roles for guys who have patiently waited their turn. Decent chance Cody is our third starter in the outfield.

Karl Hess:  The competition for the third OF starter is one of the most fun subplots coming into the season. We could also use it as a platoon to get several players time this year or a guy like Cody could run away with the job.

Pick 16:  Cayman Richardson (Infielder)

Karl Hess:  The competition to replace Ernie Clement at SS is one of the other big stories in the offseason. Richardson is reported to have had a big fall but there's also a lot of freshman talent that could grab the reigns for three years.

Pick 17:  Alex Tappen (Infielder)

Kendall:  If Cody's not the third outfielder for the 2018 Hoos, my guess is it's Tappen. He'll play as a true freshman, that's for sure. With a bit of a logjam at 3B, Tappen's a semi-natural slot to left field.

Pick 18:  Robb Adams (Left Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  Another talented freshman arm that started and pitched in relief during the fall. Adams is a lefty that will be in the mix for mid-week starts at minimum.

Pick 19:  Andrew Abbott (Left Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  This is the steal of our draft, Karl. Book it.

Karl Hess:  I'd flip a coin that Abbott is our closer this season. We've seen it before with Casey Lambert.

Kendall:  Ooooh, great point. Makes a ton of sense.

Pick 20:  Bobby Nicholson (Right Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  Nicholson is a Charlottesville guy who got the last mid-week start in 2017 against Richmond. It was a revelation that seemingly came out of nowhere. I like his potential to develop.

Kendall:  Great pick, Karl! Nicholson is a darkhorse contender for IPs this season, for sure.

Pick 21:  Blake Rohm (Right Handed Pitcher or Outfielder)

Kendall:  He reminds me a lot of Josh Sborz when he was an incoming recruit. 

Karl Hess:  I can remember disagreeing with you years ago that Sborz was not closer material. Not making that mistake again when you compare a player to Sborz.

Pick 22:  Jalen Harrison (Outfielder)

Karl Hess:  Big, athletic outfielder waiting his turn behind McCarthy in center. My hope is that we can get two years of Harrison in a starting role beginning in his junior season next year. For now, a guy to develop in mid-week blowouts and pinch running duties. 

Pick 23:  Grant Donahue (Right Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  3.86 ERA across 14 IPs in 2017 was solid-enough work. I liked the 13 Ks, and think he can build off of that campaign coming out of the 2018 bullpen. I'd say about 25 appearances and 35 IPs is not out of the question.

Karl Hess:  Big improvement over his freshman season when he couldn't get anyone out in one early season appearance. Donahue is kind of a sleeper candidate for the closer job in my opinion. But I agree that his best usage is probably as an innings eater.

Pick 24:  Will Allocca (Catcher or Infielder)

Karl Hess:  One of the best pure athletes on the team evidenced by his consecutive Iron Cavalier Challenge championship for the position players. I'm not sure he has a future at catcher but as a DH or utility player he has potential. His bat was supposed to be really good this fall.

Pick 25:  Brendan Rivoli (Catcher)

Kendall:  I just see more upside in Rivoli than I do in either Comer or Blakely. Dollars to doughnuts that Rivoli is our starting catcher in 2019.

Pick 26:  Christian Hlinka (Outfielder)

Karl Hess:  Originally a 2019 commit, Hlinka reclassified late in the summer and enrolled for this season. That shouts potential. He is in the mix to play some in left field and will likely be a starting outfielder next season.

Pick 27:  Jackson Tedder (Left Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  The pedigree is in place, he's in good hands in terms of pitching development, and he's a lefty...

Pick 28:  Riley Wilson (Left Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  Speaking of lefties, I suspect that a veteran lefty reliever like Wilson has a place on this team.

Kendall:  Oh hell yeah. With the 28th pick, Wilson could be the steal of this draft!

Pick 29:  Tanner Morris (Infielder)

Kendall:  The local kid (Miller School) is ranked number 78 in the 2017 class by Baseball America. I think he's a future shortstop for the Hoos.

Karl Hess:  And I have him pegged as the future replacement for Andy Weber. He has a bright future in the middle infield at Davenport, but it's likely a year or two down the road.

Pick 30:  Cameron Comer (Catcher or Infielder)

Karl Hess:  I see Comer mostly getting at bats in the DH slot. He's shown some potential as a high average hitter but needs to put it together for consistent playing time.

Kendall:  Note his .105 average in 19 at bats last season. Pretty dismal.

Karl Hess:  He did hit .500 in 6 at bats his freshman season though. So I've got that going for this pick.

Pick 31:  Drew Blakely (Catcher)

Kendall:  Between Rivoli and Blakely, I think I've drafted the future catcher for the Hoos. I'm interested to see what Drew can do in more of a utility-DH role this coming season.

Karl Hess:  I agree that all of the catchers are making the team this year.

Pick 32:  Jack Gerstenmaier (Infielder)

Karl Hess:  Gerstenmaier returns to the team after a one year absence. Of the options left, he's the most versatile (can play OF in a pinch or DH), and has the most experience which is always a valuable asset on a younger team.

Pick 33:  Mack Meyer (Right Handed Pitcher)

Kendall:  Brian O'Connor brought him in for his grad transfer season for a reason, right? Likely an active member of the 2018 bullpen.

Karl Hess:  The grad transfer from San Francisco is also a sidearm slash submarine delivery pitcher. We don't see that often, if ever, in a UVA uniform. I'm kind of excited about that. It should be noted that he also picked up one of two saves recorded in the 2017 Orange and Blue World Series.

Pick 34:  Teddy Paisley (Right Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  While only a walk-on, Paisley did make a late season appearance against Georgia Tech last season. He also logged some time in the 2017 Orange and Blue World Series. If nothing else, that seems to show he's part of the team's future plans more so than the other options at this point.

Pick 35:  Kyle Whitten (Right Handed Pitcher)

Karl Hess:  We goofed and missed Whitten in our original draft. Per the rules, he was required to be picked. I bumped Kendall's selection of Hughes Page for Whitten. Rest assured that Whitten will not be overlooked by the coaching staff. He's a quality freshman arm that told MLB teams prior to the 2017 draft not to bother picking him because he was going to UVA.

Undrafted Players

Noah Murdock (Right Handed Pitcher):  Our research indicates that Murdock is eligible for a roster exemption due to his season long injury. He'll be part of the team but doesn't count against the 35 roster spots for our projections.

Hughes Page (Right Handed Pitcher): Our original pick 35. Page took a redshirt year as a freshman. He needs to add size and strength to compete at this level.

Jack Weiller (Infielder):  Didn't make the team in our draft so he's probably a lock for the real roster.

Ethan Heckler (Outfielder):  Big, freshman walk-on who also pitched for his high school. He's a monster size wise so I hope the staff finds a way to keep him around the program if a roster spot ever materializes or for future seasons

Coming Soon - Lineup projections

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