An early look at the Wildcats highly-touted freshman class and the release of the fall schedule

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Griffin Riley | The Daily Wildcat Cameron Haskell pitching during Arizona's game against New Mexico state on Apr. 30 in Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona baseball finished strong last season by winning its last ten games, but it was not enough to make the postseason as they missed the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. The 'Cats will look to rebound this year, beginning with three games this fall.

This year’s fall schedule features matchups against Team USA, Cal Poly Pomona and San Diego.

The game that stands out is the first contest against Team USA at Hi Corbett Field on Oct. 26th. The Team USA roster is comprised of professional baseball players, with a few former Wildcats striving to make the team as they attempt to earn a berth in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The team is managed by former MLB player and manager Joe Girardi, a former All-Star, 4x World Series champion and NL Manager of the Year. The return of baseball to the Summer Games in 2020 marks the first time the sport will be played in the Olympics since 2008 after the International Olympic Committee voted to cut baseball and softball from the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games. 

This will be a unique test for a young Wildcats' roster that features the debut of pitching coach Nate Yeskie for the Wildcats, a former NCAA National Champion and three-time national Assistant Coach of the Year. This should be a significant help for an Arizona pitching staff that finished second to last in ERA, third to last in strikeouts and tied for last in walks allowed in the Pac-12 last season. 

This incoming freshman class received national acclaim from Collegiate Baseball last month as the No. 11-ranked class in the country, features four players who were selected in this year’s MLB draft and all chose to forgo their professional opportunities to play with the Wildcats this spring under Head Coach Jay Johnson. Those four players include RHP Davis Vainer, a transfer from Alabama, RHP Chandler Murphy out of Liberty High School in Arizona, OF Mac Bingham out of Torrey Pines High School in California and LHP Garrett Irvin out of Riverside City College in California.

Vainer, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 21st round, posted a 3.34 ERA and struck out 43 batters in 29.2 innings last season with the Crimson Tide. Murphy, who was also drafted by the Astros in the 36th round, was named the No. 2 overall prospect in the state of Arizona.

Bingham, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 40th round, posted a career .356 batting average with twelve home runs. He was also a two-sport star as a highly touted football player in high school. Irvin, who was also drafted in the 40th round by the Boston Red Sox, posted a 2.25 ERA with a 10-2 record last year and was named as the Orange Empire Conference Pitcher of the Year. 

"We are excited to add this class to our team for 2020 and beyond," said Johnson to Arizona Athletics. "I believe that this group fits extremely well with our returners and helps us enhance our team and program in a positive way. This class is extremely solid in both ability and character, which gives us a strong foundation moving forward. Focusing mostly on pitching, this class blends well with our group of young position players from last year. We are excited about the process of building this group of talented players into the best team it can possibly be."

The 2019 class includes many other notable freshmen to watch, including RHP Dawson Netz, who was named as the Perfect Game’s No. 4-ranked right-handed pitcher in the state of California, and 1B Blake Klassen, who was ranked as the No. 8 first baseman in the country by Perfect Game after hitting for a .426 batting average as a senior at JSerra Catholic High School in California. 

This highly-touted incoming freshman class joins members of the successful 2018 class, ranked as the No. 3 class in the country by Collegiate Baseball including Austin Wells, Ryan Holgate and Branden Boissiere, among others. That group combined to hit 26 home runs and 190 RBI, while posting a .308 batting average. 

The fall schedule kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 26th at Hi Corbett field at 6:00 p.m. MST against Team USA.


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