Coming off a 2009 season with arguably IU’s most talented baseball team in its century-old history, the Hoosiers are going to have to get creative.
IU coach Tracy Smith enters 2010 trying to fill a void left from losing three first-round picks and seven total players in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft.
As a result IU was not allowed to sign recruits until current players had signed professional contracts, leaving the market quite barren because most high school players had already signed with other colleges. In fact, the team had only seven healthy pitchers during fall workouts.
However, the team will be returning the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Alex Dickerson, who hit cleanup the majority of the year for the Big Ten champions.
Junior outfielder Brian Lambert and senior infielder Michael Earley – named team captains for 2010 on Monday – look to return to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Lambert hit .345 while appearing in 40 games in 2009 and serving as IU’s primary pinch-runner. Earley saw action in 30 games, hitting .276 with 1 HR and 11 RBI.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Blake Monar will likely return as IU’s opening-night starter on Feb. 19 at the University of San Diego. He went 5-3 with a 4.64 ERA for the Hoosiers in 2009, earning Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors while striking out 59 and limiting opposing hitters to a .251 average.
IU will welcome a staggering 12 incoming freshman to its squad in 2010.
Among those are infielder Trace Knoblauch, nephew of former major leaguer Chuck Knoblauch. Also joining the team in 2010 is catcher Josh Collier, who hit 36 home runs in his career at Edgewood High School, and pitcher Greg Heban, who garnered First Team All-State honors last year at Delta High School in Muncie.