UA baseball stays active during offseason
Arizona defeats UC Santa Barbara 10-5 during game 4 of the Hi Corbett Classic on Saturday, March 8, 2014 in Tucson, Ariz. Bobby Dalbec (3) finished the season tied for the team-lead in home runs with two.
At the collegiate level, baseball is generally played 11 out of 12 months. Baseball players get the month of May off, but by June, summer ball has begun. Before you know it, fall ball is here and it’s the start of another spring season.
Wildcat sophomore outfielders Zach Gibbons and Scott Kingery trained in Tucson last summer and saw their hard work pay off with breakout seasons.
Kingery improved his batting average by nearly 100 points from his freshman year when he batted .261. This season, he led the team with a .354 average and was subsequently named to the Pac-12 All-Conference team.
This year, the two are competing on the same summer team, the Brewster Whitecaps of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.
In addition to Kingery and Gibbons, Arizona sophomore pitchers Nathan Bannister and Cody Moffett, freshman infielder Willie Calhoun, sophomore infielder Kevin Newman and freshman utility player Bobby Dalbec have also signed with teams in the Cape Cod League for the summer.
Bannister, Moffett and Dalbec are playing with the Orleans Firebirds, Calhoun is with the Wareham Gatemen and Newman is with the Falmouth Commodores.
Last summer, Bannister and Moffett led their team, the Goldpanners, to regular season and tournament championships in the less-rigorous Alaska Baseball League. The two combined to post an 8-0 record and recorded ERAs of 2.42 and 0.63 respectively. Bannister, who compiled a 6-0 record with 36 strikeouts in 52 innings in the ABL, has made a flawless transition to the level of play present in Cape Cod.
Going into Sunday’s games, the hard-throwing right-hand pitcher had posted a 2-0 record, racked up four strikeouts compared to one walk and limited opposing batters to a .148 batting average over eight innings pitched. He has proven to be one of the Firebirds’ most effective arms and is in possession of the second lowest WHIP on the team (0.63).
“Nathan’s been doing really well, he was up to 93 mph last game,” Dalbec said. “He’s been hitting 89-92 mph pretty consistently and also seems to have a pretty good handle on his off-speed pitches.”
Bannister has attributed his recent success to switching from a submarine motion to a more over-the-top delivery. He said that he’s been focusing on pounding the low zone and inducing more ground balls rather than worrying about accumulating strikeouts.
This summer, Dalbec also earned the chance to compete alongside seven of the nation’s best college sluggers in the 2014 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby. The contest will be broadcast live on July 3 at 5:30 p.m. PST on ESPN.
After his freshman campaign with the Wildcats, Dalbec produced a respectable .266 batting average with nine doubles and two home runs and led the team with a 2.13 ERA over 38 innings.
Dalbec was tabbed as the No. 43 overall freshman prospect by Baseball America and was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17