Around the horn: Pros to preps baseball preview

Around the horn: Pros to preps baseball preview

A few thoughts from the week in sports …

The recent cold and rainy weather doesn’t make it seem like baseball season, but ready or not, it’s here.

And those who know me know I’m always ready for baseball.

Baseball is the first sport I played and has remained my favorite despite adding a deep appreciation for many other athletic activities over the years.

It’s the tie that binds in my family, dating back to 1948 when my late grandma brought my dad to Cleveland Indians games as a 7-year-old with a homemade Lou Boudreau jersey.

Shirts with player numbers weren’t sold in stores back then like they are now. A few fans actually asked her, “Are you Mrs. Boudreau?”

The year 1948 is extremely significant for longtime Indians fans, who know it’s the last World Series title won by Cleveland’s baseball team.

The year 2022 is highly significant (also infamous to me and many others) because it will be the first year Cleveland’s team isn’t called the Indians since 1914.

Owner Paul Dolan decided to end 106 years of history by approving a name change for 2022, which wound up with the bewildering choice of Guardians.

I’ve been outspoken in stating I think Cleveland should have kept the Indians moniker, and I’m willing to bet the majority agree. I do agree getting rid of the Chief Wahoo logo was the right move.

Dolan caved to a few in the woke crowd and the MLB promise of hosting the 2019 All-Star Game in exchange for finding a new moniker.

To make things worse, the Cleveland baseball team came up with a lame nickname and logo. The Guardians’ season opener is April 7 in Kansas City.

With surveys showing more than half the fan base is against the name change, Dolan further alienated us diehards by doing virtually nothing in the off-season to improve the club.

The Cleveland Baseball Club is valued at $1.3 billion, according to Forbes.

However, Cleveland will suit up a team with a combined payroll of just $37.4 million, which ranks 29th out of 30 MLB clubs. The average payroll is $134 million, led by the $321 million Dodgers.

Dolan avoided a complete public relations disaster when he approved a five-year, $124 million contract extension for All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez.

I’m still not going to buy any Guardians merchandise, and I’d love to see the Dolans sell the team; however, I’ll remain a Cleveland fan.

So let’s talk some baseball.

Cleveland has a strong starting pitching staff if they can stay healthy with Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill.

Ramirez is a huge fan favorite and actually likes playing in Cleveland. It’s great to know the 29-year-old will anchor the lineup for many years to come.

Centerfielder Myles Straw is legit. He’s my second favorite position player behind Ramirez.

Outfielder/designated hitter Franmil Reyes is a good power hitter.

The saying “you get what you pay for” is usually spot on in Major League Baseball, and the rest of the lineup isn’t worth a whole lot. Some other hitters will need to step up if Cleveland is to improve upon its 80-82 record in 2021, its first losing season since 2012.

Despite having a future Hall of Fame manager in Tito Francona, my prediction is it will be a long year for our Dolanians baseball team.

College corner

If you want to watch some great local baseball, stop by and check out The College of Wooster.

Year after year the Fighting Scots are one of the best programs in Div. III.

Coach Barry Craddock’s Scots’ team has lots of potential and was off to a 10-6 start when the week opened.

Two players to watch are senior shortstop Tyler Chumita and sophomore right-handed pitcher Corey Knauf.

Chumita is batting .409 with three home runs and 35 RBI. He leads small colleges in RBI per game.

Knauf struck out 15 Williams College batters on March 25 during the Scots’ Florida trip. Pitching in Chain O’ Lakes Stadium, former spring training home of the Cleveland team formerly known as the Indians, Knauf recorded the most strikeouts by a Scots’ pitcher since Stan Partenheimer fanned 19 in 1944.

There aren’t any players on this year’s roster from Wayne or Holmes counties, which is usually the case. However, sophomore righty Eli Westrick from nearby Ashland has been among the top three hurlers for the Scots.

Pettorini excelling at Ohio State

Tyler Pettorini has been really impressive as a freshman second baseman at Ohio State.

The 2021 Wooster High graduate is competing against some players who’ve been in college baseball for five or six years, due to redshirting and an extra COVID year, but has hit and fielded his way into the starting lineup as a rookie.

Through 23 games the Buckeyes had an 8-15 record, and Pettorini had played in 18 contests. He ranked fourth on the team with a .281 batting average (16-57), with four doubles, eight runs and 10 RBI.

High school baseball report

Wooster and West Holmes look really strong in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Generals junior Blake Bowen, who’s committed to play for Kentucky, is off to a red-hot start at the plate while Marietta football-baseball recruit Noah Clark is a standout pitcher-shortstop for the Knights.

The Generals went 17-9 and won the OCC last year. With seniors Drew Becker and Elisha Steiner joining with Bowen to lead a strong group of returnees, Wooster is the OCC favorite again.

Triway has a ton of experience back from an 18-8 PAC co-champion team and is led by senior All-Ohioan Brock Tisko and Kain Weaver. Orrville has a young team led by sophomore standout Brady Marshall.

The WCAL race appears wide open, with some of the top players to watch being Norwayne’s Jed Hanzie, Eli Stanley and Jake Gill; Dalton senior Isaac Wengerd; Waynedale junior Trey Barkman; Hillsdale junior Nick Kandel; and Smithville sophomore Bryce Butcher. The Bobcats’ Trent Barstow struck out 15 Dalton hitters in an 8-1 win on April 5.

The Bulldogs and Golden Bears were WCAL co-champs in 2021.

Hiland is always strong and will count heavily on junior Nolan Yoder to lead the way after losing several key players from a 27-5 team.

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at aarondorksen24@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronDorksen.


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