As the calendar turns to 2019, IU baseball is a little more than two months away from making its return to the diamond.
The Hoosiers ended last season in Austin, Texas, falling to the University of Texas in the final round of the NCAA Tournament Regional.
The loss to the Longhorns was just the beginning of a chaotic offseason for the program. Jeff Mercer replaced former head coach Chris Lemonis, who left IU to take the head coaching job at Mississippi State University. Junior pitchers Jonathan Stiever and Tim Herrin were selected in the MLB Draft. Junior infielder Luke Miller was also selected.
IU returns with a majority of its talent from last year’s team, but junior outfielder Matt Gorski is as productive a player the Hoosiers have coming back. The 6-foot-4 Gorski paced the team with a .356 batting average a season ago, 30 points above the next best batter. Gorski added eight home runs and 40 RBI on his way to a First Team All Big Ten selection.
His performance last year led to him being named the No. 32 draft eligible player by Perfect Game before the start of the 2019 season.
With a strong junior campaign, Gorski could be one of the top college hitters selected in next summer’s MLB Draft. He spent the 2018 summer in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League playing with the Harwich Mariners in an attempt to gain exposure and fine tune his skills.
“I focused on getting stronger and seeing more pitches,” Gorski said in an Oct. 19 IU Athletics interview. “Taking my walks. My power too. And everything I can do to help the team.”
With his height, bat and arm strength from the outfield, the Fishers, Indiana, native has turned himself into one of the Hoosiers’ top all-around players and will be a key piece to Mercer’s first team.
“I want to take a really big leadership role this year,” Gorski said in an IU Athletics interview. “With a new coaching staff coming in, you never know what to expect and we these guys, they need someone to look up to to figure out the ropes.”
As with any first-year coach, Mercer’s first campaign in Bloomington will experience its ups and downs. A nonconference schedule that includes 2018 National Champion Oregon State University, the University of Washington and Coastal Carolina University will exacerbate those highs and lows.
But with Gorski leading the IU offense, this Hoosier ball club could once again find itself at the top of the Big Ten.