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FALL BASEBALL: Five observations

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Brady Lloyd slides into second base during a scrimmage at Clark LeClair Stadium on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I saw a decent amount of East Carolina baseball practices and scrimmages this fall for coach Cliff Godwin’s fourth season. Here are some end-of-fall observations:

- Benton-Agnos could be special: ECU has a clear 1-2 punch atop its starting pitching rotation in sophomores Jake Agnos and Trey Benton. Agnos’ stuff is still electric from the left side and I heard Benton looked at different ways to improve his demeanor on the mound and it looks like he really wants to take over as the Friday guy for good. My guess is that’s the case come February and he is backed up by Agnos on Saturday and then there is Chris Holba, Davis Kirkpatrick, Tyler Smith, maybe Gavin Williams and others to fill out a rotation that could be as dependable as it’s been in years. The lead arms just need to stay healthy, and that certainly starts with Benton-Agnos.

- Lloyd’s role: Brady Lloyd once again had a nice fall and should factor into the infield situation, maybe as a starter. He has worked at third base, shortstop and second base, and left camp probably with a slight edge over Nick Barber at second. Injuries to newcomers Collin Watt and Connor Litton left Eric Tyler (now a coach) playing third base for both teams at the Purple-Gold World Series, but the Pirates’ hope is that Litton is OK and is the starter there and that could mean Lloyd does play prominently at second base. Junior shortstop Turner Brown has taken over as a team leader.

- Catcher: Godwin expressed confidence this fall in Seth Caddell (freshman) and redshirt sophomore Jake Washer as being steady catchers. My guess is you will see both get a shot in the spring, maybe into the season. I liked what I saw defensively from Caddell in Game 1 of the fall World Series, but he also had a passed ball late in the scrimmage. Washer has the advantage of playing some last season. Travis Watkins’ strength late in his career really was his calming presence and leadership with young pitchers, and that will be the biggest transition at catcher for this season. That could be more important than actual production from that position.

- Williams throws heat: Six-foot-6 freshman Gavin Williams maybe should be in pro rookie ball right now. His velocity in the low to mid 90s is legit. The secondary stuff still is a work in progress, which screams closer role if the coaching staff thinks he can handle it and he performs. That also could depend on how the Pirates’ rotation shakes out behind Benton and Agnos, but Williams seems poised to fill an important role somewhere.

- The big bat? Pitching depth was evident during the fall, but if there any offensive concerns it could be: Who is your fastball? Is it Spencer Brickhouse being a 10+ home run force or does Dwanya Williams-Sutton take the next step and put up a great and consistent season at the plate? Or a newcomer like Litton or Alec Burleson or Chandler Jenkins surprise people? The Pirates have good pieces like Dusty Baker and Brown and other speedy players to set the table, and knocking them in will be a big factor in the season.

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