#26 Texas A&M Baseball 2015 Preview

Texas A&M Aggies

Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #7 SEC
#26 Texas A&M Baseball 2015 Preview
Texas A&M Team Page


Texas A&M didn’t have a great record last season, but they did finish the season very strong. After sneaking into the NCAA Tournament despite their 14-16 conference record, the Aggies put together a big time performance in the Houston Regional. The Aggies fell to Texas to open the regional, but responded by eliminating both George Mason and host Rice and then beat Texas to force a winner take all game for the regional. The Longhorns won that game 4-1, but it was still an impressive run that should give the Aggies confidence entering 2015. With a significant number of returnees and a favorable schedule, the Aggies could be headed for bigger and better things this year.

2014: 36-26, 14-16
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rob Childress

Field Players:
The Aggies return a significant amount of production offensively from last year’s team. Nine returning players played in at lease 30 games last season and two more played in at least 20. Sophomore outfielder Nick Banks headlines the group. A Freshman All-American last season, Banks led the Aggies with a .327 batting average and added two home runs and 26 RBI’s. Senior infielder Blake Allemand joins Banks as the only other returning player to start over 50 games last season. Allemand hit .290 and had a team-high .397 on base percentage as a junior. The Aggies are the deepest in the infield as six of the top 11 returning players, in addition to Allemand, play there. Sophomore Ryne Birk started 27 of the 39 games he played in as a freshman, hitting .306 on the season, and junior Logan Taylor hit .269 while starting 43 games. Logan Nottebrok and Hunter Melton give the Aggies a pair of power bats in the lineup. The infield duo has led the team in home runs in each of the last two seasons. Nottebrok had a team high eight last year and Melton led the team with six in 2013. Melton saw his playing time decrease last year, appearing in just 30 games, while Notebrok appeared in 40, but both could see big roles this season. Patrick McLendon, who could also see time in the outfield, and Ronnie Gideon also return in the infield. McLendon appeared in 47 games and hit .279 last year, while Gideon hit .226 over the course of 21 appearances.

Texas A&M loses a lot of production in the outfield and behind the plate, but does return a pair of outfielders and a catcher that saw some time last season. Jonathan Maroney and J.B. Moss started 19 and 18 games, respectively, last season and both hit over .260, while Mitchell Nau hit .274 in 26 appearances at catcher. Freshman Cole Bedford and juco transfer Michael Barash could both be difference makers behind the plate for Texas A&M as the catcher spot is up for grabs.

Texas A&M loses two thirds of their weekend rotation, but return the rest of the pitching staff intact for the most part. Grayson Long will be back in the rotation after going 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA over 15 starts last season. Tyler Stubblefield is a good bet to join him. The draft eligible sophomore started 11 of his 17 appearances last season and went 4-2 with a 3.81 ERA. There is a good shot a freshman could slot in as the Sunday starter behind Long and Stubblefield. Turner Larkins was the Aggies prize recruit and he turned down a 28th round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers to head to College Station. Larkins features a low 90’s fastball that could help him make an immediate impact in the rotation. The same goes for another freshman, Brigham Hill. Seeing either in the rotation would not be a surprise. Nearly all of the key bullpen arms return and it should be strength for the Aggies. AJ Minter, 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 24.1 innings, Ty Schlottmann, 0-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 31.1 innings, Andrew Vinson, 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 36.2 innings, and Matt Kent, 3-1 with a 3.15 ERA in 45.2 innings, all return and will have key roles. Junior college transfer Cody Whiting could also have a big impact in his first season on campus.

Who to Watch:
Texas A&M loses Daniel Mengden, a fourth round pick in last June’s MLB Draft, from the rotation and that leaves a big hole for the Aggies. A big season from Tyler Stubblefield could be huge in the effort to replace that production. Stubblefield had a strong year last season and will look to build on that this year. Stubblefield threw a complete game to keep A&M alive in last year’s Houston Regional and if his strong finish is any indication, the sophomore is poised for a big second year on campus. The six-foot-four southpaw was a big time recruit and a 36th round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves out of high school and if he can take the next step this season, he would give the Aggies a solid 1-2 punch atop the rotation.

Final Projection:
The SEC will be tough again this season, but the Aggies have the talent to be in the mix this year. Aside from the Astros Classic that features Baylor, Houston and Rice, the Aggies have a very favorable non-conference schedule. Getting those early wins will be key, as it will likely make the difference in whether or not the Aggies make the NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M made a regional despite their sub .500 conference record last year in large part due to their good non-conference record. As long as the Aggies finish around .500 or better in conference play, they should be tournament bound again. That is far from the expectations in College Station though, as this team has the talent to be a sleeper for an SEC title should a couple things fall in the Aggies favor.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Blake Allemand, IF, 207
Hits: Nick Banks, OF, 65
Home Runs: Logan Nottebrok, IF, 8
RBIs: Logan Nottebrok, IF, 27
Runs: Blake Allemand, IF, 38
Stolen Bases: Nick Banks, OF, 7

Wins: Grayson Long, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Grayson Long, P, 89.1
Strikeouts: Tyler Stubblefield, P, 61
Saves: A.J. Minter, P, 2; Ty Schlottmann, P, 2; Andrew Vinson, P, 2

Madness 2015 MLB Draft Rankings:
#86 AJ Minter
#87 Tyler Stubblefield

Madness 2015 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#21 Turner Larkins


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