The days are getting shorter, and classes are starting soon, so you know what that means… college baseball rosters are being finalized!!
As players must make decisions before attending a college class as to what they want to do with any pro opportunities, drafted or otherwise, there can be some late movement in recruits and returning players as big decisions are made. The same turmoil can be seen as new coaching staffs are put together and programs move in another direction from committed athletes. The Huskers have benefited from such situations in the recent past, and did so twice in one week this year, as the summer draws to a close.
So lets dive into (old times news guy voice) “This Week in Husker Baseball!”
The first domino to fall for the week was from Lincoln East’s Jalen Worthley announcing his commitment last Friday night via Twitter.
Worthley was originally committed to San Jose State University for two years before the parting of ways between the Spartans and their pitching coach led to his recruitment being reopened. The Nebraska Player of the Year (Prep Report) fielded calls from numerous programs before considering the JuCo route due to lack of scholarship money being available from teams this late in the process.
Nebraska, however, still had room and money for him and landed the the top LHP prospect in the state (which pairs nicely with the top RHP prospect in the state in Husker signee Brandon Lundquist). Worthley struck out 67 batters in 42 innings, while sporting a 7-0 record and 0.84 ERA.
He brings a low 90s fastball paired with a wipeout slider that did most of his damage for him in the prep ranks. Nebraska expects him to pitch early as a Freshman, though at this point a role hasn’t been mapped out for him.
The weekend continued with Husker captain Griffin Everitt confirming to reporters that he was returning to the Husker program. He will be one of the players using the extra year allowed due to the pandemic year in 2020.
The Husker catcher/DH went undrafted after a year in which he hit .291 with 8 HRs and 41 RBIs, while being one of 2 players that started every game. No other worthwhile opportunity presented itself, and so he made the easy decision to take one of the 5 special roster spots allowed for players affected by 2020 that are going to be allowed for the 2023 season, bringing the total roster size allowed up to a total of 40 players for Nebraska.
Everitt’s return means that Nebraska will be bringing back 3 of its 4 team captains from 2022, with Cam Chick originally retiring from baseball before reconsidering and going home to play at Missouri. Everitt joins RHP Shay Schanaman who also recently announced his intention to return for 2023, with the intention of returning to the bullpen where he flourished, along LHP Kyle Perry. Which brings us to some more good news of the week…
Perry continued his (2nd) rehab back from surgery on his throwing arm by starting to throw again on Tuesday.
The emotional leader for Nebraska never wavered on coming back and will be joined by fellow LHP Jake Bunz, who was rumored to possibly be able to return after his own injury last year, but was unable to rejoin the team on the field before 2022 came to a close.
In continuing what has suddenly turned out to be our week of Left Handed Pitcher News, Nebraska pulled pitcher JC Gutierrez out of the Texas. Gutierrez had been committed to Texas Tech for close to 2 years, before the post-draft finances left him looking for a new landing spot. Thanks to some family ties from Nebraska Director of Player Development Rob Childress, Gutierrez was brought in for a visit, and the rest as they say, is history.
Gutierrez brings a sterling resume to Lincoln. He led the state of Texas in strikeouts while pitching in the state’s highest classification, totaling 156 Ks and an ERA of 2.30 in 82.1 innings of work, per MaxPreps. He touches 90 with the fastball, but uses his curve and sliders to rack up the majority of his strikeouts. Gutierrez is the #115 LHP in this class, just slightly behind Worthley who comes in at #82.
In the 2022 year, where the pitching was up and down and do-everything Koty Frank, as well as closer Braxton Bragg moving on to other programs, you can expect to see Gutierrez make appearances early in the season, though what situation we will see him in is still up in the air. With Perry and Bunz coming back, as well as All-B1G 2nd team pitcher Emmett Olson, these incoming freshmen have some great teammates to learn how to handle the college game as LHPs.
These pickups likely bring the class to a close, with 10 high school commits, 10 JuCo commits, and 6 transfers coming into the now 40 man roster for 2023. If you are confused who is still here and/or need an intro to some more of the newcomers, be on the lookout in the coming weeks for updates here at CN.