In 2016 the Huskies surprised a lot of people, going 33-23 and finishing second in the PAC-12, despite being picked to finished 8th in the preseason polls. In 2017 the Dawgs figure to be good again as they return all but two players from the 2016 starting lineup, along with both their Friday and Saturday starting pitchers. Baseball America pinned the Huskies as 12th in the nation in their 2017 preseason rankings, so there is plenty of hype surrounding the young but talented ball club. So far the team is off to a 9-6 start, and will host their first PAC-12 series this weekend at Husky Ballpark. Game one of the series is at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, so be sure to get out and see a game or two if it ever stops raining.
After spending 16 seasons between Chico State and Indiana State, Lindsay Meggs was hired as the skipper for the Huskies before the 2010 season. He was able to turn the program around in just a few years, leading the Dawgs to the NCAA Regional in 2014 for the first time in 10 years. He was PAC-12 coach of the year that season. The former UCLA third baseman is a passionate leader with a competitive personality. He’s led Washington to Regionals in two of the past three seasons, and his success on the recruiting trail suggests a bright future for the program.
While UW returns three key pieces of the pitching staff in Noah Bremer, Joe Demers, and Greg Minier, they will also be relying on a lot of new faces to step up in 2017. The loss of PAC-12 Pitcher of the Year Troy Rallings leaves difficult shoes to fill, but the UW coaching staff is excited about the unproven talent they have waiting in the wings. Josh Burgmann and Jordan Jones are two names to keep an eye on as they will most likely handle the Sunday pitching duties throughout the year. Burgmann, a Nanaimo native who played for the Canadian Junior National team, was drafted by the Cardinals—an organization that knows something about pitching prospects—out of Vauxhall Academy, but decided to attend UW instead. He’s got a good fastball and a lively change-up. Jordan Jones is Kate’s favorite player on the UW team, and made his season debut entering a close game with the bases loaded and managing to work out of a jam, showing an ability to locate his stuff even in a high-pressure situation. In fact, he describes himself as a guy who “controls the zone.” The Kentwood product’s brother, Taylor, attended Gonzaga and is now in the Astros system.
The Huskies have an abundance of experience returning on the offensive side of the ball with seven returning starters who accounted for 82% of the at-bats in 2016. In addition to the returners, UW also welcomes the #19 recruiting class in the nation. Headlining the list of incomers are infielders Christian Jones and Ben Baird, who both ranked as top 100 recruits. They and a few other newcomers should all see the field in 2017, giving the Husky coaching staff multiple lineup configurations to choose from going forward.
Players to watch:
Joey Morgan (Jr.) - C
After being named to the All-PAC-12 team in 2016, Joey Morgan starts 2017 by nabbing the final spot on Perfect Game’s top 100 college prospect list for the 2017 MLB Draft. Morgan is an excellent catcher, regarded by most as one of the best defensive catchers in the PAC-12, but can do some damage on the offensive side of the ball as well. In 2016 he slashed .263/.350/.425 with 6 home runs in 56 games. He’s off to a good start again in 2017, boasting a .433 OBP with 5 doubles over 14 games.
Noah Bremer (Jr.) - RHP
After earning Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2015, Bremer has been Washington’s go-to guy for Friday games. Entering his third collegiate season he had only allowed three or more runs in eight of his 32 appearances. After earning All PAC-12 Honorable Mention in 2016, the 6’5” hurler is off to a solid start this season, boasting a 9.72 K/9 ratio in his four starts. Perfect Game considers Bremer to be the 89th college prospect for the 2017 MLB Draft.
Willie MacIver (So.) - C/3B
Coming off a limited but successful freshman year, Willie MacIver finds himself ranked as the 76th overall prospect for the 2018 MLB Draft by Perfect Game. With catcher primarily occupied by Joey Morgan, MacIver pencils in to play a lot of third base this year, but could see time at catcher should Morgan need a day off. MacIver figures to get a lot more playing time in 2017, so keep an eye on him as a breakout candidate.
AJ Graffanino (So.) - SS
I’m not going to lie, this guy is my favorite player on the team. In the summer of 2015, Graffanino was named the sixth best prospect to play in the West Coast League. The lanky shortstop started in 46 games last season, ending the year with a hit in five consecutive contests. After switch hitting as a freshman, he will only bat from the left side in 2017. Through 15 games, he’s slashing .304/.350/.411. With his ability to flash leather, his continued success at the plate should garner some attention from college prospect lists.
Joe Demers (So.) - RHP
The talented sophomore looks to build off what was a somewhat inconsistent freshman season. He’s s once again penciled in as the Saturday starter, so there’s little doubt he will play a big role in 2017. So far this season, Demers has been off to a great start, and has been C-ing the Z like an absolute champ. In his first four starts, he has tallied 18 strikeouts to go along with only 2 walks in 28.2 innings with a 2.51 ERA. Demers was often considered a top 50 prospect coming out of high school, so look for Demers to shoot up draft boards if he can maintain his early success throughout 2017.
Jack Meggs (Sr.) - CF
Son of the skipper, Jack Meggs is a talented veteran presence on this Husky Baseball team. His successful junior year earned him All-PAC-12 honors, as well as defensive all-conference recognition. The athletic centerfielder has some pop in his bat, which he put on display when he ended Vanderbilt’s season last year with one swing of the bat (for some reason I can’t find this video on the internet. How does the internet have so many useful things, but not have this iconic dinger). He’s off to a solid start in 2017, posting a .309/.387/.509 slash line. Now in his final year of eligibility, Meggs’ experience and talent should help Washington on their road to Omaha.
- This year the Huskies will try to make their third NCAA regional appearance in four years.
- If you’re looking for more information on the Husky baseball team, gohuskies.com offers a more in-depth look on both the pitchers and the position players.
- You’ll be able to stream most of the games on Pac-12 Network’s free streaming channels. Here’s the complete broadcast schedule.
- Go Dawgs.