Fall Report: Oregon

Fall Report

After making five regionals in six years from 2010-15 — very shortly after restarting the program from scratch for the 2009 season — Oregon looked like a program on the verge of becoming a perennial national contender. But the Ducks have scuffled since, missing the NCAA tournament three years in a row. There’s plenty of reason to expect them to return to the postseason in 2019, George Horton’s 11th year as head coach. Oregon has a very good core of physical veterans in the lineup, and its pitching staff has a chance to be special if its frontline power arms can harness their electric stuff.

“That’s kind of been a little bit of our demise the last couple, three years — either inconsistency in the bullpen or inconsistency with our starters,” Horton said. “Certainly talented kids, we just haven’t done as good of a job as we need to do to make them as consistent as they need to be.”

One guy who has been consistently excellent over the last two years is righthander Kenyon Yovan, who is back to anchor the rotation as a junior. Yovan posted a 1.97 ERA and 15 saves as a freshman, then showed he could handle a starting role as a sophomore, going 6-4, 2.98 in 84.2 innings (10 starts, 11 relief outings). The Ducks built him up slowly this fall after he spent time in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA in the summer, but he did pitch toward the end of the fall, and Horton liked what he saw from his ace. The transition from reliever to starter was smooth and natural for Yovan, who has four legitimate pitches and a durable, physical workhorse frame, along with a repeatable delivery. He holds his 91-94 mph velocity deep into games, and he can miss bats with both his 83-84 slider and his sharp 77-79 curveball.

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