The first team meeting of the year was held in Columbus as the Buckeyes look to repeat as NCAA Tournament participants, while over in Bloomington a new team of Hooisers took to the field for the first time.
Before digging into what storylines to follow during the fall practices seasons or who are the newcomers to watch as focus turns to the 2017 season, here’s a look at outstanding summers for a eight Big Ten players.
Cape Cod Baseball League
Maryland Soph. 2B Nick Dunn, Brewster
Dunn is only a sophomore, but his summer in the Cape has him on track to be top prospect to watch for the 2018 MLB Draft. After batting .300, with 16 doubles, to earn Third Team All-Big Ten honors, Dunn continued to perform at a high level during the summer season.
In 42 games for the Whitecaps, Dunn batted .311, the ninth-best mark in the Cape. With eight doubles, a pair of triples and a home run, Dunn drove in 25 runs, to end the season with the third-most RBI. Dunn finished the summer with a .774 OPS and a spot in the Cape’s all-star game.
Maryland Jr. SS Kevin Smith, Yarmouth-Dennis
Dunn’s double play partner, Smith has been a steady two-year performer for the Terrapins, starting at shortstop since day one. But it was his summer in the Cape that has turned him into a bona fide MLB Draft prospect. Selected to a pair of Freshman All-America teams, Smith batted .273 in 2015. The average dipped to .259 last season, but showed durability as one of two players to start all 57 games. With the wood bat, for Yarmouth-Dennis, Smith performed at a level which exceeded any spring to date.
In 41 regular season games, Smith batted .301, collecting 12 doubles and two home runs. Named an all-star, Smith performed even better during the playoffs. Smith, named playoff MVP, batted .370 with two doubles and a three home runs over seven games to help the Red Sox to a third consecutive Cape Cod Baseball League championship.
Michigan Jr. LHP Oliver Jaskie, Yarmouth-Dennis
The Big Ten was good to the Cape champs as Michigan southpaw Oliver Jaskie also did his part to place the Red Sox atop the league.
Appearing in six regular season games, starting five, Jaskie held a .98 ERA over 27.1 innings. The left-hander almost struck out a batter for every inning pitched, ringing up 27 batters on strikes against seven walks. With 17 hits scattered, Jaskie finished the regular season with an .878 WHIP. The Wolverine was roughed up a bit in his final outing of the summer, allowing five runs off nine hits and three walks in 4.1 innings. But after 79 innings of 3.19-ERA baseball in the spring, Jaskie’s combined 2016 performance has him ready to lead the Michigan rotation.
Indiana Jr. OF Laren Eustace, Green Bay
The Hooisers have a crowded outfield with the return of Craig Dedelow, Eustace, Alex Krupa and Logan Sowers. All four are capable of playing at a high level, with Eustace showing just how high in the Northwoods.
Spending the summer with Green Bay, Eustace batted .320 over over 65 games. Of the 70 hits tallied, 15 went for extra-bases, in the form of eight doubles, four triples and three home runs. Though the success rate isn’t ideal, Eustace managed to steal 13 bases in 23 attempts.
Iowa Sr. INF Mason McCoy
A year after setting a Northwoods League record for hits in a season, McCoy was back to putting good wood on the baseball and spraying it around ballparks throughout the upper Midwest.
Though he fell shy of the 112 hits recorded in 2015, McCoy tallied 88 hits on the summer, the second-most in the league, to finish with a .320 average. With 18 doubles, three triples and eight home runs, McCoy slugged .495, driving in 37 runs. The a strong showing of power paired with a display of speed as the Hawkeye stole 24 bases in 27 attempts.
Michigan State Soph. 3B Marty Bechina
The Spartans couldn’t find enough big hits to keep from fading over the final three weeks of the 2016 season and out of NCAA Tournament contention. For the 2017 season, sophomore Marty Bechina may be the guy the Green and White turn to in key situations.
Bechina showed his big bat potential with a fine summer for the Kenosha Kingfish. Holding a .316 average over 61 games, Bechina dialed up 16 doubles, five triples and six home runs to drive in 42 home runs. Bechina’s .908 OPS sat nicely beside 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts, in his end-of-summer stat sheet.
Indiana Jr. RHP Brian Hobbie, Terre Haute
Over two seasons in Bloomington, Hobbie has shown flashes of promise but has yet to reach his full potential. IU has had the luxury of not relying too heavily on Hobbie as seven pitchers have been drafted over the last two years. But as the Hoosiers look to replace their entire weekend rotation, returning pitchers must take on a great workload. Fortunately it comes after a fine season for Hobbie.
A member of the Terre Haute Rex, Hobbie finished the summer with a minuscule .82 ERA, allowing four earned runs over 54.2 innings. In going 4-2, Hobbie struck out 34 batters while walking just 11 walks, to be named the Prospect League’s Pitcher of the Year.
Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League
Ohio State Soph. LHP Connor Curlis, Lima Locos
The Buckeyes will not see the complete weekend rotation turnover the Hoosiers experience, but there will be one weekend spot up for grabs heading into the fall season. After showing well in limited time as a true freshman, Curlis’ summer showed the sophomore should be in the mix.
For nearby Lima in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, Curlis carried the lowest ERA for pitchers with at least 40 innings of work during the regular season. Pitching to the tune of a 1.06 mark, Curlis, selected by coaches as the GLSCL top pitching prospect, struck out 39 batters, walked 14 and allowed 25 hits, sporting a .921 WHIP.