Karbach Round Rock Classic: Everything You Need To KnowAnalysis
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The Karbach Round Rock Classic is back for yet another season and it’s time to take an in-depth look at each team in the field of four, including top-ranked LSU, Iowa, Kansas State and Sam Houston.
LSU is headlined by righthanded pitcher Paul Skenes and outfielder Dylan Crews, Iowa by Brody Brecht, Marcus Morgan and Ty Langenberg, Kansas State by Nick Goodwin and Kaelen Culpepper and Sam Houston by Carlos Contreras and Walker Janek.
Let’s dive into the Round Rock tourney field:
Head coach: Rick Heller
The skinny: Iowa head coach Rick Heller has created a winning tradition, and this is a program that once again is expected to compete for an NCAA tournament appearance this spring. Iowa lost pitching coach Robin Lund to the professional ranks during fall baseball, but they didn’t skip a beat pitching-wise on opening weekend, as the staff as a whole allowed only three runs in three games against a combo of Indiana State and Quinnipiac. Brody Brecht is the headliner, while Marcus Morgan and Ty Langenberg are both front-line talents as well. Zach Voelker is also off to a strong start out of the bullpen for this team. Outside of LSU, no one in this tourney field comes close to having the front-line pitching talent of the Hawkeyes. It’s an impressive group looking to make a statement this weekend.
Star power: Brody Brecht
You could throw Ty Langenberg into this discussion as well, but all the buzz nationally right now is about the 6-foot-4, 205-pound, righthanded pitcher. Brecht, one of the better prospects in the 2024 MLB draft class, had a phenomenal first start of the season against Quinnipiac, striking out 10, not walking anyone and allowing no hits through five innings of work. Oh yeah, he also happens to throw anywhere from 97-100 mph with his fastball — his fastball averaged 98.9 on the radar gun last weekend. Brecht, who served primarily as a reliever for the Hawkeyes last season, is budding into a superstar as a front-line starting pitcher as well. His matchup against LSU on Saturday will have plenty of eyeballs, both in the collegiate and professional ranks.
Who’s hot: We already mentioned Brecht as a guy who was red-hot on opening weekend, but how about outfielder Kyle Huckstorf? The talented position player had a monster first week, hitting .455 with a 1.227 OPS, a home run and six RBIs. He also walked once and swiped a pair of bases … Wofford transfer Brennen Dorighi, who arrived in Iowa City as an accomplished hitter, is hitting .400 to start the season, while on the mound, weekend starters Marcus Morgan and Ty Langenberg combined to allow just three runs in nine innings on Opening Weekend. Morgan can get up to 94-95 mph with his fastball on a good day, while Langenberg is a very good overall pitcher who sits in the low-90s with his heater. He also attacks hitters with a solid changeup and a slider/cutter combo.
Ty Langenberg (55)
Brody Brecht (17)
Marcus Morgan (58)
Cade Obermueller (59)
Head coach: Pete Hughes
The skinny: There’s no doubt what the question mark is with this Kansas State club this spring — the weekend rotation. KSU had one of the more talented rotations in the Big 12 last season, but those guys are now gone, and that’s placing some stress and heavy workload on talented, but unproven, arms such as righthanded pitcher Jackson Wentworth. Wentworth started last weekend against SFA and was lifted after allowing five runs in just two innings of work. The good news for K-State is that while the pitching staff continues to try to figure things out, the offense is headlined by a pair of studs in Goodwin and Culpepper, while Brendan Jones and Roberto Pena caught my attention over the last week as well. Jones smacked two doubles and knocked in five runs (.400 average) over five games, while Pena, a South Florida transfer, has a double, two home runs and eight RBIs already.
Star power: Nick Goodwin and Kaelen Culpepper
After losing several important arms from last year’s club, the Wildcats will need guys such as Goodwin and Culpepper to be studs at the plate this spring. Both talents have good track records and are off to solid starts this season. Goodwin is one of the better shortstops in college baseball and is off to a solid start with a .333 average, a home run and five RBIs, while Culpepper has some definite juice in his bat and is also having a good season through four games, hitting .316 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. When these two sluggers are rolling, the ‘Cats typically follow suit as a club.
Who’s hot: On the mound, Shay Hartis and Cole Wisenbaker have gone 7.2 innings of work without allowing a single earned run, while offensively, we mentioned the hot starts of guys like Pena, Goodwin, Culpepper and Jones. I’d also keep a close eye on reliever Tyson Neighbors, who showed a big-time arm when I saw the Wildcats early last season. He has struck out 7 and walked one in two appearances and 3.1 innings of work thus far.
Nick Goodwin (77)
Jackson Wentworth (69)
Kaelen Culpepper (129)
Head coach: Jay Johnson
The skinny: The Tigers entered the season as the nation’s top-ranked team for good reason. LSU reached the NCAA regional round last season, returned several key pieces and made some strong acquisitions in the transfer portal during the offseason. They added the big-time bat of Tommy White, talented freshmen Paxton Kling and Jared Jones are big-time bats to watch, and on the mound, Christian Little and Thatcher Hurd possess big-time arms. LSU has sky-high expectations this season, and everyone in Baton Rouge expects them to capture the program’s seventh national title. However, navigating the season with so many superstars, including Dylan Crews and Tre Morgan, while also being the ultimate ‘hunted’ team won’t be easy.
Star power: Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews
We’ve written a lot about superstar righthanded pitcher Paul Skenes over the past week, and it’s for good reason. Skenes, a 6-foot-6, 247-pounder, Air Force transfer, was terrific in his first start for the Purple & Gold, and possesses electric stuff, getting up to 100-101 mph with his fastball at times, while also showing good feel for an 86-88 mph slider. Skenes did not throw his low-90s changeup a lot last weekend against Western Michigan, but perhaps that is in more abundance this weekend … As for Dylan Crews, the talented outfielder, for my money, is the best overall player in college baseball. He has a professional demeanor at the plate, and has an impressive blend of athleticism, ultra-mature plate approach and power. He’s the top prospect in college baseball and well worth the price of admission this weekend. Keep an eye on Morgan as well. The elite defender over at first base is off to a solid start from an offensive standpoint, and is coming off a game in the midweek in which he hit for the cycle.
Who’s hot: Gavin Dugas and Jared Jones
You love seeing guys who paid their debts in the program have success, and that’s exactly what Dugas has done through the first four games this season. The talented veteran is off to a torrid start offensively, hitting .700 with a double, two home runs and three RBIs in 10 at bats. Meanwhile, Jared Jones is yet another supremely talented freshman to watch on this team. Jones is a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, who has outrageously impressive power from the left side. He’s hitting .600 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs.
Here’s a list of prospects ranked by D1Baseball in the 2023 and ’24 MLB draft classes.
Dylan Crews (1)
Paul Skenes (10)
Grant Taylor (15) *Injured
Ty Floyd (44)
Tre Morgan (47)
Christian Little (67)
Tommy White (3)
Paxton Kling (9)
Thatcher Hurd (10)
Gavin Guidry (132)
Head coach: Jay Sirianni
The skinny: The Bearkats have had quite an interesting first week or so of the season. On one hand, they scored a whopping 49 runs in four games over the weekend against Rhode Island. However, they also lost a game to the Rams in that series and followed it up with a 3-1 midweek loss to Rice. So, a ton of offensive upside heading into the weekend? You bet. But consistency wanted? Absolutely. Tyler Davis, Walker Janek, Carlos Contreras and others are big-time weapons for this offense.
Star power: Carlos Contreras and Walker Janek
Contreras enters the weekend with just eight at bats this season, but he’s one of those guys with an advanced offensive approach who always seems to find holes in the field. He’s a hitting machine, and he also is coming off a season where he racked up ridiculously impressive RBI totals. Meanwhile, Janek is the most ‘talented’ player on this roster from a prospect standpoint, and he’s off to an outstanding start with a .412 average, two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs. Sam Houston will be tough to slow down if both Contreras and Janek are rolling this weekend.
Who’s hot: The Sam Houston offense certainly has some hot hitters, but how about reliever Chandler Davis on the mound? David has appeared in two games and thrown five innings — and during that span, he has struck out 10 and walked two, while teams are hitting him at a .167 clip. Offensively, Janek enters the weekend with a 1.428 OPS while Davis has a 1.236 OPS with a team-best .563 average. He also has drawn two walks and swiped a pair of bases.
Prospect watch: None