Colorado Midseason Check-In: Teams on the Rise

By John Cackowski
State Director

With weather not cooperating recently, and with more potential bad weather at the beginning of next week, we are going to focus on teams and players that are off to good starts this spring. Here is a look at some teams that are in good position to potentially be a host site for districts when expectations might have been to just make the district playoffs.

Preaseason Top 50 Countdown Rank: 33
Current Rank: No. 1 in 5A
Current Record: 9-1
2015 Record: 10-9
Quality Wins: Rock Canyon at home, and road wins against Douglas County and Columbine

What's Working
2016 RHP/3B Jake Eissler (Texas Christian) gives the Grizzles a chance to win every time he toes the rubber. Last week Eissler pitched 8 innings needing only 88 pitches to do so against Rock Canyon, and on the year he is 2 and 1 with a 0.88 ERA. In 27 innings pitched he has only walked 4 batters, but has struck out 41 while only giving up 15 hits. Eissler is also leading the team with a .485 batting average and 6 doubles. We knew Eissler was going to be one of the top RHP in the state, and produce offensviely, but the question about the Grizzlies in 2016 was how much offensive production they would get through their lineup. Currently 2017 outfielders Jason Hall and Brody Perkins are helping answer that question. Hall is hitting .458 with 4 doubles and 4 stolen bases. Perkins is hitting .387. Also providing offensive production is 2016 2B Phillip Ferguson who is hitting .333 and has 13 runs and 7 stolen bases. The added offensive production combined with a deep pitching staff which has produced a team ERA of 2.80 is the reason why the Grizzlies are 9-1 to start the year including a 3-0 Continental League Record

Preseason Top 50 Rank: 24
Current Rank: No. 3 in 5A
Current Record: 10-2
2015 Record: 9-10
Quality Wins: Road wins against Rock Canyon and Mountain Vista, Home win against Highlands Ranch

What's Working:
The Eagles are benefiting from experience. With the majority of their team back from last year, the Eagles have learned how to win the close games instead of giving them away. Another thing that is working is making 2018 RHP Riley Egloff a pitcher. Going into this year Egloff has never thrown a bullpen before, but has already developed into a No. 1 starter. Armed with a fastball that touches 88 mph, Egloff is 3-1 on the season with a ridiculous 0.26 ERA. In 26 innings he has struck out 23, but has only given up 10 hits. The Eagles are also getting quality innings from 2017 RHP James Kester, and 2016 SS/RHP Billy Moreland (University of Northern Colorado). The Eagles team ERA is 2.26. The Eagles are getting their expected production offensively from Moreland, 2017 C Casey Opitz, and 2016 OF Owen Reynolds (Lamar CC), but what's working for the Eagles this year is the quality innings they are getting on the mound.

Silver Creek
Preseason Top 50 Ranking: 13
Current Rank: No. 3 in 4A
Current Record: 9-2
2015 Record: 10-9
Quality Wins: Home wins against Windsor and Longmont, and also beating Longmont at home.

What's Working:
The emergence of 2018 pitcher Cole Winn has been the big difference. As a freshman the Notre Dame commit went 3-2 with a plus 4.00 ERA. The experienced he gained as a freshman has paid off because this year. Winn has been dominating going 4-0 with a 2.50 ERA. Winn has also struck out 46 batters in 28 innings pitched. When you team Winn up with 2016 RHP Austin Wood (Furman) who has been one of the best pitchers not just in 4A but in the state, then you have a 1-2 punch that is as good as it gets at the 4A level. Wood is also hitting over .450 leading the team in RBI's and homeruns.

Fort Collins
Preseason Top 50 Rank: N/A
Current Rank: No. 6 in 5A
Current Record: 7-2
2015 Record: 13-7
Quality Wins: Road wins vs Grand Junction and Grand Junction Central, and a home win against Horizon

What's Working:
We gave the Lambkins some locker room material this year when we left them out of our Preseason Top 50 Countdown, and they are proving us wrong at the moment, and we feel they will continue to do so. We knew the Lambkins would have strong pitching backed by 2016 RHP Preston Snavely who is 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA. What we didn't know is if they would get enough offensive production. That is where they have turned the corner. 2016 C Richard Edwards has been on fire this year hitting .522 with 12 RBI's, and 2017 1B/P Nathan Dill has been even better hitting .636.