Spring training is upon us, but more importantly, college baseball has begun. While it is easy to keep up with the top high school prospects and Division I talents ready for June’s MLB Draft, there are often a few under the radar guys lurking in DII and DIII baseball just itching to make an impact.
Garret Cave, RHP, Tampa Spartans
The University of Tampa has become the DII powerhouse in baseball. Head coach Joe Urso and associate head coach Sam Militello have teamed together for 17 seasons now, bringing home four national championships under their reign.
Having the experience of being a major league pitcher, Militello has been hands on in developing the pitching in Florida. This year, he has Florida International transfer Garrett Cave leading his staff.
Cave is off to a hot start. Baseball America’s top draft prospect from the DII ranks has gotten off to a hot start. Sitting at 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA and a 14.40 strikeout per nine ratio. He described his arsenal to me as:
“I throw a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a curveball, change-up, and a cutter. The pitch I really have all of my confidence and heart in is my fastball. It has been a pitch that has always worked for me, especially since God has blessed me with the ability to throw hard. I have great confidence in my off speed as well but when I know I can put away a batter with a well placed fastball, thats what I love to do. The pitch that I need to keep working on is the cutter only because I started throwing it this summer. It has shown a lot of potential and Im excited to start utilizing it.”
I spoke to both Militello and Cave on Tampa’s expectations this season, as well as what makes Cave so special. You can read that piece by clicking the link below:
DII baseball: Tampa Spartans’ experience has them ready for another title run
Garett King, Cal Baptist, RHP
One thing head coach Gary Adcock has become known for in his time at the helms of the California Baptist Lancers is producing quality pitching for the professional level. Each draft since 2010 has seen at least one of his pitchers get selected in June’s MLB Draft. Names such as Caleb Dirks, Trevor Oaks and last year’s fourth-rounder Tyson Miller (Chicago Cubs) have settled in nicely as major league prospects.
This season he gets to work with three new arms. Justin Montgomery and Logan Rinehart are young and improving daily, but Nebraska transfer Garett King has stolen the show.
Like Cave — who was a 2014 draft pick for the Yankees — King was selected in the 2014 draft out of high school by the New York Mets. If you’re curious about his makeup what he told me about his decision speaks volumes.
“I knew I was going to be going to college. I was 159 pounds when I graduated high school. I was a string bean. I was 17 years old. I wasn’t ready to go handle minor league baseball, physically or mentally. Going to Nebraska, away from home, kind of prepared me for that lifestyle.”
King struggled on opening day but has settled down, winning his last three starts. He now sits at 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA, striking out 31 and walking just three over 2.67 ERA. He described his arsenal as:
“My curveball is my go-pitch. It’s kind of a plus-pitch that I’ve been known for the past couple years to get people out. My fastball command has always been a strength of mine. I really rely heavily on those two things. I’ve got the slider to back it up and I actually started to work on a split-change in the bullpen this week. We’ll see how that goes. It felt good in the pen, if I could translate that to the game it would be fantastic.”
You can read my full interview with King — Baseball America’s second rated DII draft prospect — and Montgomery on what makes Cal Baptist such a special place for pitchers to mature by clicking on the link below:
DII baseball: Cal Baptist’s newest ‘Big Three’ look to continue strong tradition of starting pitching