The Nebraska Baseball team takes to the diamond this Friday, in hopes of a rebound after a tough 2018 campaign. The Huskers and Head Coach Darin Erstad will look the rebound after missing out on the postseason for the first time since Erstad took over the program.
Nebraska will have a fair amount of production to replace, starting with their top two hitters in Scott Schreiber and Jesse Wilkening.
The good news for the Huskers is they welcome the best recruiting class of Erstad’s career. Nebraska’s class was rated 16th by D1baseball. The top player in the incoming class appears to be Spencer Schwellenbach. Schwellenbach could be a two way player, with potential to take the mound along with manning the hot corner.
Around the infield, Nebraska will need to break in new starters on the right side of the infield. Zac Repinski saw the majority of playing time last season at second, while Schreiber was the staple first baseman.
Alex Henwood did get a fair amount of time at second, and his bat started to come around at the end of the season. With Jaxon Hallmark projected to spend more time in the outfield, Cameron Chick and Angelo Altavilla could compete for the job at second as well.
Luke Roskam should move from third to first on a full time basis this spring. With Roskam the starting first baseman, expect Schwellenbach to potentially take the job at third with Altavilla being the primary shortstop.
If Roskam should stay at third, or move to the designated hitter, Ty Roseberry could become the starter. Roseberry, who transferred from the now defunct program at Kearney smashed fifteen home runs last year.
Mike Waldron, Drew Gillin, and Brett Hammit should round out the infield. Hammit has hit some massive home runs in his high school career.
Nebraska will have a solid catcher rotation. The primary starter will be Gunner Hellstrom who was named to the 2018 Big Ten All Freshman team after batting .310 last season. Kennet Sorenson will be the backup, with Roskam also being able to play catcher as well.
The outfield will feature the return of Mojo Hagge for his third season with the Huskers. Hagge will bring his signature defense to the diamond. Playing alongside Hagge will be another Freshman All Big Ten member in Jaxon Hallmark. Hallmark led the Huskers last year with seven stolen bases.
It would not be surprising to see a fair amount of rotation in who fills the third spot in the outfield, especially in the first couple of weekends. Nebraska does have some returning outfielders in Joe Acker, Mike Addante, Connor Cross, Nolan Hakel, and Ben Klenke.
Nebraska will miss the power potential that has graduated in both Schreiber and Wilkening. The Huskers should be faster on the bases with only Roskam and Hellstrom being the only players who would rate below average.
Nebraska will score runs, it will not be a prolific offense, but it should keep the Huskers in most games. Nebraska batted .274 as a team last season, after batting .281 in both 2016 and 2017. If the Huskers can get back to the .285-.290 range, they could be towards the top end of the Big Ten.