Every year, Arizona’s baseball program uses the first two months of fall practice to assess the team’s talent and purge accordingly, ultimately weeding out the top players who are expected to contribute, and placing them on the team’s official spring roster.
Nobody is ever guaranteed a spot on the squad and cuts occur until just a few weeks before winter break. Due to the strict 35-player roster cap, freshmen, transfers, or even returnees could be dismissed at any given time.
Willie Calhoun, Morgan Earman, and Kenny Meimerstorf are three freshmen who hope to earn spots on this year’s roster. They were picked in the late rounds of the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft, but instead of signing with major league teams, they decided to come play as Wildcats at the UA.
Meimerstorf is a 6-foot, 195-pound power-hitting outfielder from Las Vegas and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 40th round.
During his high school career at Bishop Gorman, the slugger hit more than 40 homeruns and led his team to three state championship games. In his senior year, he batted .436 with 15 homeruns, had 56 RBIs, and an .902 slugging percentage.
If his power can transfer over to the collegiate level, Meimerstorf could be a tremendous advantage offensively for the Wildcats.
“I plan on contributing to the team in any way possible,” Meimerstorf said. “We have really high expectations this season. All the freshmen are talented and want to come out and improve every day, so it’s nice to be in a competitive environment.”
Earman was drafted as a pitcher by the New York Mets in the 21st round before deciding on Arizona. He is from Bermuda Dunes, Calif., and led his team to a CIF title as a senior and comprised a 0.27 ERA and 12-1 record. He struck out 144 batters in 79 innings while only allowing three earned runs all season. Earman’s fastball consistently reaches 93 mph. He said he is excited for an opportunity to play as a Wildcat.
“I’m out here to do a job. They brought me here to pitch and I plan on pitching my heart out and doing whatever I can to make a name for myself,“ Earman said. “I see a lot of talent in our freshmen class and a lot of hard workers. I think some of the new guys are really going to be key to where we end up this year.”
Earman was promised a job in the starting rotation before committing to Arizona and said that he can’t wait to be a part of this year’s rotation.
The transition of going from being a high school standout to a freshman newcomer in a collegiate-level program can be challenging and poses an obstacle that prospective college baseball players face. College ball is played at a much quicker pace, has a longer season and is more demanding than baseball in high school.
“It will be difficult but there are a lot of returners who I look up to. They’re already making the transition easier,” Calhoun said. “I think I will be able to rise to the occasion and step up to overcome this challenge.”
Calhoun is a second baseman with a hardworking attitude and powerful swing. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 17th round before committing to Arizona. In his final year at Benicia High School, he hit .433 with six homeruns and 29 RBI, leading his team to the section championships. Calhoun possesses quick bat speed and has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field. His versatility offensively and defensively would add great depth to the Wildcats’ infield.
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17