[Game times: Friday 6:30 p.m. @MSS, Saturday 30 minutes after Reds-Nats @GABP, Sunday 1 p.m. MSS]
Big weekend on and off campus, as has been referenced all week. More than anything, a great opportunity for a young baseball team. We've talked multiple times this week about playing at GABP and how great that will be for UC and college baseball to stay at the forefront of the minds of baseball fans in the area -- and exposure will be the primary benefit. Yet, looking at three games against No. 9 Louisville means a chance for an emerging, young team to learn where it stands in the big picture.
UC gritted out two close victories this week with the 6-2 win at Wright State and 9-7 walk-off victory at MSS on Wednesday against Toledo. Louisville will be a completely different animal, though.
The Cardinals are 22-6, coming off a 10-inning loss to No. 6 Kentucky in front of the largest crowd in their home stadium's history. UK scored two runs in the first inning Tuesday to become the first team to notch a run in the first against Louisville all year. Last week the Cardinals played a three-game set with then-No. 15 Notre Dame and swept the series.
The Bearcats are held to a different standard right now. Five of the starting eight are freshmen.
This class still awaits the breakthrough moment. Freshman Ian Happ's walk-off homer Wednesday began the ball moving in the right direction, but earning a win against a rival and top-ranked opponent such as the Cards would mean more than any dramatics. A talented, young team with confidence suddenly becomes a dangerous team. Finding a way to scratch out a win or two this weekend would go a long way toward building the next step in this reboot.
No freshman will more feel the pressure this weekend than Mitch Pattishall. He's started four games in his collegiate career and his fifth will be at GABP against U of L starter Jeff Thompson (5-0, 0.46 ERA), whose rated the No. 87 college prospect in the nation by Baseball America and hasn't allowed an earned run in three starts. Pattishall has pitched 18 inning of college baseball, but couldn't ask for a greater opportunity to make a name for himself.
Really, making a name is what this weekend is all about. There will be plenty more opportunities during the next few months for this team, but few will offer the exposure and rivalry of these three against Louisville. As a reminder, tickets for the Reds-Nats, UC-UL doubleheader are still available and you can get them here. Temperatures are supposed to near 70 Saturday afternoon, so should be a great day to play two.
Let's eat ...
Let's eat ...
--- TE Travis Kelce held his pro day Thursday at UC. He didn't workout with everyone else last month due to recovery from an injury. All these numbers are great, and I'll of course taking a deeper look at them, but plays like these two make a much bigger impact on his draft stock.
Here are Kelce's numbers, according to UC, from Thursday (scouts had own individual timing):
- Height/Weight: 6-5, 250 pounds
- 40-yard dash: 4.64/4.69
- Vertical leap: 37-inches
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.33
- 60-yard shuttle: 12.0
- 3-cone drill: 7.12
For context, here's where all those numbers would have ranked among TEs who tested at the Combine (Kelce didn't participate there also because of the injury)
- 40-yard dash: 3rd
- Vertical leap: 2nd
- 20-yard shuttle: 4th
- 60-yard shuttle: 9th
- 3-cone drill: T-8th
Now, the all-important 40 time should be noted the two tight ends with faster times also weighed less than Kelce. Chris Gragg from Arkansas led the vertical leap at 37.5 inches, so Kelce was closely behind him in that area.
Tape like the video above more correctly displays the tight end's ability, but these numbers confirm he's at the top of size/speed combo among tight ends in this draft. Multiple times the comparisons to Rob Gronkowski have been made about Travis, mostly because of his prototypical tight end frame. Gronk came out of Arizona at 6-6, 264 with massive hands at 10 3/4. Still, the speed and size combo were in the same ballpark, as was the production. Remember, Gronkowski slipped into the second round that year.
As far as how high Kelce will go?
Mike Mayock of NFL Network ranks him the 4th best TE in the draft.
Todd McShay has him going in the second round, 60th overall, to Atlanta
CBS NFLDraftScout has him going in the third round as the 5th best TE
Ending up in the middle of the draft for a tight end has proven to be a fantastic jumping off point over the past few years, highlighted by one of the best tight end classes of all time in 2010. Tight ends just rarely go in the first round, the Bengals Jermaine Gresham in 2010 was the last TE to go in the first round. There have only been three tight ends selected in the first round the last five years (Gresham, Brandon Pettigrew, Dustin Keller) and none were taken higher than No. 21 overall.
With most having Kelce around the fourth or fifth overall tight end, here's a look at where that spot has gone the last five years:
Here's a list of some of the most productive tight ends drafted in the 2nd-4th rounds the last three years. Being among this group is not a bad deal in the least:
Gronkowski, NE (2nd, 2010)
Tony Moeaki, KC (3rd, 2010)
Jimmy Graham, NO (3rd, 2010)
Aaron Hernandez, NE (4th, 2010)
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (2nd, 2011)
Lance Kendrick, STL (2nd, 2011)
Dwyane Allen, IND (3rd, 2012)
--- Kevin Goheen of FSOhio wrote about Kelce being out to change perceptions placed on him during his suspension in 2010.
--- Tom Greoschen at Cincinnati.com offered some observations from Pro Day, including the return of Zach Collaros to throw some passes to his good friend Kelce.
--- Speaking of ZC, Tom DeWees caught up with him to talk about playing for the Toronto Argonauts, including the game where he set up the game-winning field goal against the Ty-Cats. If you remember that kicker's name was Swayze Waters. You know I won't miss a chance to mention that name. #CrazyForSwayze
--- The new American Athletic Conference name has been brought up across media everywhere the last few days and the response tends to be about in line with the poll taken over at the ESPN Big East blog where 40 percent say they "neither like it nor dislike it."
In this type of situation, that's probably the best you could hope for. Anything you put out there would struggle to grab attention or break new ground, you just don't want overwhelming negativity. Cough*Legends and Leaders*Cough.
--- Tough week for the talking points in college basketball: Mike Rice, Tim Pernetti, Ed Rush, Jimmy Martelli all officially let go. This week is supposed to be about basketball and the Final 4, instead more about controversy and out of control behavior outside the lines. Should make all UC fans appreciate the clean programs and accountability that's going on at UC right now.
--- Randomness ...
--- Kevin Ware on David Letterman's Top 10 list was worth watching. Plus, you had to expect the random shot at Leno, right?
--- May 26 on Netflix, Arrested Development's new season debuts. Clear your calendars.
--- Jurassic Park in 3D is released today. Count me in. Still remember nearly gripping the arms off the theater seat as a teenager watching that thing for the first time. To boot, here's an oral history of the movie. Hard to remember now how groundbreaking the creation of those CG dinosaurs was at the time.
--- Pretty sure I'm going to hack into the Facebook account of my buddy Dave who loves the Phillies and make this picture his new avatar.
--- The reaction of fans in the Diamond seats were hilarious twice this week at GABP -- the first when Aroldis Chapman dialed up a 99 mph fastball directly into the screen on Wednesday, then this gif of the year nominee of the terrified kid on a foul ball straight back.
--- Doug Anderson of Detroit was fun to watch all year. Then last night, this at the college dunk contest. Mama, there goes that man!