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The Indiana Daily Student

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2024 Indiana baseball season preview: Key departures and returners

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This is part two of a two-part preview of the 2024 Indiana baseball season. Check out part one here: 

Key departures 

Indiana needs to replace the production of numerous now-departed players from last year’s squad. Other players like catchers Matthew Ellis (transferred to Georgia Tech) and Peter Serruto (MLB Draft) left the program as well, but Ellis spent most of 2023 injured. Similarly, Serruto’s defense was an asset, but junior catcher Brock Tibbitts will be more than adequate to fill his role.  

JR RHP Luke Sinnard (Elbow injury) 

2023: Second team All-Big Ten (SP) 

16 starts, 6-3, 86 ⅓ IP, 4.27 ERA, 25 BB, 114 K, .249 BAA 

Back in August, news emerged that Sinnard will miss the entire 2024 season because of the injury he sustained in Lexington, meaning an already thin Indiana pitching staff will be without its most dependable starter.  

Whenever Sinnard was on the mound, Indiana had a chance to win. He was efficient, good in high-leverage situations and constantly in the strike zone. His 114 strikeouts set a new program record. Sinnard is MLB Draft-eligible, meaning his 2023 campaign may have been his first and last in Bloomington. Whether or not he declares for the draft remains to be seen.

RHP Craig Yoho (Selected by Milwaukee Brewers, Round 8 of 2023 MLB Draft) 

2023: 18 appearances, 4-1, SV, 37 IP, 3.41 ERA, 19 BB, 63 K, .232 BAA 

Yoho began his collegiate career at the University of Houston as an outfielder in 2019, transferring to Indiana prior to the 2023 season after missing part of 2019 and all of 2021 and 2022 with injuries to his right elbow and knee.  

After leaving the outfield behind for the mound, Yoho became a dependable late-inning arm for the Hoosiers, with 57% of his outs recorded via the punchout. His slow, 3000+ RPM curveball induced a high swing-and-miss rate and enabled him to form a two-headed monster with sophomore left-hander Ryan Kraft at the back end of Indiana’s bullpen.  

 

SS Phillip Glasser (Selected by Washington Nationals, Round 10 of 2023 MLB Draft) 

2023: Second team All-Big Ten 

.357/.444/.515, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 70 R, 14-17 SB, .955 FLD, 10 E 

Transferring from Youngstown State University before the 2022 season, Glasser was a two-year starting shortstop for Indiana. He had consistent gap-to-gap power, quick feet, a dependable glove and a strong arm. A player with true five-tool potential, Glasser was the archetypal leadoff man for Indiana and the captain of its infield. He set the table for the hard-hitting middle third of Indiana’s lineup, ranged into the outfield to keep the basepaths empty and turned singles into doubles with his stolen-base ability.  

LF Hunter Jessee (Transferred to University of Cincinnati) 

2023: .277/.368/.383, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 42 R, 5-5 SB, .936 FLD, 4 OF assists, 5 E 

Although the batting numbers might not fly off the stat sheet, Jessee provided dependable corner-outfield defense for Indiana day after day. He reached base safely in 48 of 56 games played, often coming around to score when the lineup flipped over.  

CF Bobby Whalen (Transferred to University of Virginia) 

2023: .277/.368/.383, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 58 R, 6-9 SB, .993 FLD, 5 OF assists, 1 E 

Like Jessee, Whalen’s batting numbers do not stand out, but he reached base safely in 51 of 63 games played and came around to score when the batters in the middle of the order produced. Usually finding himself penciled in at No. 2 in the lineup, Whalen’s range in center field was paralleled by few and his willingness to sacrifice his body allowed him to make some spectacular catches.  

Key returners 

One of the advantages of Indiana having a young roster is that most of last year’s talent returns for 2024. The Hoosiers are bringing back five starting position players, including the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year.  

SO OF/DH Devin Taylor 

2023: Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Perfect Game Freshman All-America, First team All-Big Ten (OF), Big Ten Freshman of the Year 

.315/.430/.650, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 61 R, 1-2 SB, .926 FLD, 6 E 

If he had been an everyday starter at the beginning of the season, Taylor was on pace to pass Carter Mathison’s 2022 home run total of 19, a freshman record. Instead, he had to wait until spring break for his chance to shine. A breakout series versus Morehead State University saw Taylor enter the starting lineup for good, and he did not miss a beat. His 59 RBIs set a new program record among freshmen.  

By the end of the season, Taylor was a staple in the middle of Indiana’s lineup, launching baseballs into orbit at will. Drawing comparisons to high-profile talent like 2023 first-rounder Wyatt Langford, Taylor will not sneak up on opposing pitchers this year. He will have to be more selective at the plate.  

Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said Jan. 26 that Taylor has been watching film on how opposing pitchers have approached hitters like Carter Mathison and Glasser.  

“The reality is, he’s going to have to learn to take his walks and he’s going to have to trust his teammates to do some damage,” Mercer said. “If you can avoid pitching to him, you’re going to.”  

JR C/1B Brock Tibbitts 

2023: Second team All-Big Ten (1B) 

.357/.447/.585, 10 HR, 68 RBI, 61 R, 1-1 SB, .988 FLD, 6 E 

It was not merely Taylor’s ability in the box that made the middle of Indiana’s lineup so dangerous last season — it was also the men behind him. Tibbits was first on that list, batting cleanup when Taylor hit third. Teams often had to pitch to Taylor or risk being burned by Tibbitts, and Indiana’s RBI leader did plenty of damage.  

His offense needs no introduction — the numbers speak for themselves. He is consistent with runners on base and makes opposing pitchers work. Tibbitts also possesses great defensive instincts as a catcher and first baseman, scooping short-hops and rarely allowing baseballs to get past him on the infield.  

With Ellis and Serruto gone, Tibbitts will be Indiana’s primary catcher this season after spending 2022-23 at first base.  

“It’s awesome being back there,” Tibbitts said Jan. 26. “Working with the pitching staff and being able to control the game, just doing whatever it takes to help the team win.” 

JR LHP Ryan Kraft 

2023: First team All-Big Ten (RP) 

21 appearances (2 starts), 6-1, 5 SV, 61.2 IP, 2.48 ERA, 22 BB, 51 K, .249 BAA 

When describing Kraft, Mercer does not mince words: “He’s nails.”  

With fellow lefty Grant Holderfield out all of last season with an injury, Kraft was the workhorse southpaw who repeatedly answered the call. Whether as a starter or a reliever, Kraft shut down opposing offenses with little resistance.  

Quality left-handed pitching is a hot commodity, and that is why he is so valuable. Rarely do teams have a pitcher who can get three big outs late in a game or throw 90+ pitches as an innings-eater, but Kraft does both effectively. In 2023, Kraft surrendered multiple earned runs in only five of his 21 outings. With Yoho gone, Kraft could emerge as a true closer this season.  

SO RHP Brayden Risedorph

2023: Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-America 

25 appearances (five starts), 3-1, 6 SV, 52 ⅓ IP, 4.47 ERA, 19 BB, 60 K, .255 BAA 

Risedorph matured remarkably fast in his freshman campaign, commanding the strike zone and inducing weak contact while limiting walks. Over 50% of his 25 outings ended with no free passes issued, and that number speaks to Risedorph’s consistency.  

It seems cliche, but pitchers who get ahead in the count tend to have more success. He delivered quality innings for Indiana in the Lexington Regional, which is no easy feat for a young hurler in a hostile environment. 

The impact of Sinnard’s absence cannot be overstated — Indiana needs to replace lots of production on the mound. Risedorph looks poised to solidify his place in the Indiana rotation as either a four-inning starter or a mid-game shutdown option. He does not strike out batters at the same rate as Sinnard, but Risedorph keeps the Hoosiers in games all the same.  

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MattPress23) and Nick Rodecap (@nickrodecap) for updates throughout the Indiana baseball season.   

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