UCF Baseball Season Preview Part Two - The Bullpen

Feb. 9, 2010

By Brian Ormiston

ORLANDO (UCFAthletics.com) - Part two of UCFAthletics.com's 2010 season preview takes a look at the possible makeup of the UCF bullpen.

Part One - Initial Outlook & Starting Pitchers

A philosophy Terry Rooney likes to emphasize is the importance of the late innings. While a team may have quality starters, it takes a solid bullpen to preserve victories. Unlike the rotation, UCF's pen has a trio of returning relievers who were looked upon in several key situations for the Knights in 2009.

While D.J. Hicks may be on the mend to open the year and could return as a primary bat in the lineup near the start of the C-USA schedule, Jordan Rasinski and Cory Weech combined for 39 relief appearances, two saves and 41 strikeouts in 36.0 innings a year ago.

J.M. Blake - Jr. - RHP - 2008 32nd round draft pick San Francisco
Chase Bradford - Jr. - RHP - Went 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA at Southern Nevada in 2009
Bryan Brown - So. - RHP - 1-8, 8.71 ERA, 41.1 IP, 24 K
Gregg Cooke - Fr. - RHP - Posted a career 12-9 record with 153 strikeouts in 145.0 IP at Sickles High School
Matt Goodyear - Sr. - RHP - 0-0, 14.85 ERA, 13.1 IP, 11 K
D.J. Hicks - So. - RHP - 4-5, 6.79 ERA, 3 SV, 51.2 IP, 31 K, may start the year with a non-baseball related injury
Matt Manning - RS Sr. - RHP - Returning from Tommy John surgery
Jordan Rasinski - So. - RHP - 2-0, 4.05 ERA, 1 SV, 13.1 IP, 17 K
Scott Robinson - Fr. - RHP - Was 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA as a senior at Seminole High School
Joe Rogers - Fr. - LHP - 2009 Florida Class 5A All-State Third Team selection
Jack Sterritt - Fr. - RHP - Had a 7-3 record and 80 strikeouts as a junior at University Christian before having Tommy John surgery
Cory Weech - Sr. - RHP - 4-1, 5.96 ERA, 1 SV, 22.2 IP, 24 K

"One of the big things for me in a pitching staff is the back end of the game," said Rooney. "You have to have two go-to guys and a closer. The go-to guys are innings six to eight that can stop a jam before you get to your closer. We have several guys that could do that. Cory Weech did a good job for us last year, and two new pitchers in J.M. Blake, who had the best arm on our team in the fall and threw 90 to 93 miles per hour, and Joe Rogers, who is an upper-80s lefty with a good breaking ball.

"Chase Bradford is someone who I expect to lead our bullpen though. He comes from Southern Nevada, one of the best junior college programs in the country. I signed him because he came from a winning program, dominates the strike zone, has a very good savvy on the mound and can pitch in the middle to the late parts of the game for us.

"And there's a host of pitchers who could throw in middle relief situations. Matt Goodyear has gotten a lot better and Matt Manning is on his way back. Bryan Brown and Jordan Rasinski have improved as well. Then there are some young arms in Scott Robinson, Jack Sterritt and Gregg Cooke, and as they continue to develop their innings will grow.

"Overall, we've brought in some very talented arms with different strengths. I feel really good about these guys in that they will make an immediate impact for us. We had an enormous turnover of pitchers from 2009, and from last year to this year the one area we need to improve on is pitching. For this baseball program to take the next jump, the majority of it relies on us getting better on the mound. I think we've upgraded the talent level but now the results need to follow."