With the first fall exhibition game upon us, here is our best take on the 2020 Charlotte Baseball roster. This is certainly unofficial and we expect the official roster to be released at a later time. As we all know, college sports rosters are very fluid. Here is our first breakdown of the roster to get you ready for the Fall season. The Niners return some key players from last season and bring in an exciting recruiting class looking to contribute.
We will start with the pitching. Last season was a struggle to find consistency as a pitching staff. After Friday starter Matt Brooks went out with a shoulder injury, the depth of the 49er staff was tested and several pitchers got their first D1 experience on the mound. The Niners will return 64% of their innings pitched from 2019. Returning pitchers started 32 of 53 games last season, 25 of those starts coming on the weekend (25/42). Seven new arms will be added to the 49er staff including 3 Freshman and 4 transfers.
#21 Sr RHP Colby Bruce– All C-USA 2nd Team Reliever in 2019. Threw 41 relief innings last season and struck out 43, picking up 8 Saves while posting a 2.63 ERA.
#34 Sr RHP Ryan Czantstkowski – Made 7 relief appearances before becoming a weekend starter for 8 weekend starts last season. Had a 6.50 ERA with 34 Ks over 54 IP in his 1st season for Charlotte.
#33 Sr LHP Ethan Earhardt– Made 9 appearances out of the Niner bullpen, striking out 9 over 12.1 IP.
#39 Sr LHP Spencer Ard– Made 11 appearances out of the Niner bullpen, striking out 13 over 22.1 IP.
#41 Sr RHP Matt Brooks– Injured after 4 starts last season. Had offseason surgery and should be throwing in November. Was on pace for his best season as a Niner as the Friday ace before the shoulder injury ended his season.
#25 Jr RHP Patrick Szczypinski– One of the most consistent arms in 2019, making 20 relief appearances and picking up 39 Ks in 38.2 Innings of work. Led the Niners with a 2.56 ERA.
#19 So RHP Bryce McGowan – Developed into a weekend starter, starting in 12 games in his Freshman season. Had a 5.82 ERA with 41 Ks in 55.2 IP last season.
#35 So RHP Will Palinkas– Saw time as a weekend starter in his freshman season, starting in 3 games overall. Also made 15 appearances in relief, overall striking out 34 in 37 IP for a 6.81 ERA.
#13 So RHP Mason Herbert– Made 4 starts in mid-week games and 8 relief appearances during his freshman campaign. Ended the season with a 12.05 ERA in 21.2 IP, and 12 Ks.
#28 So RHP Justin Offfshanka– Only appeared in 2 games as a reliever. May be eligible for RS.
#29 Sr RHP Nick Turnbull (Maryland)- Grad transfer from Maryland where he made 18 appearances out of the Terrapin’s bullpen and started 1 game in 2019, throwing 17.2 Innings and striking out 17.
#37 Jr RHP Andrew Roach (Cowley)- Newcomer from Cowley CC where he started 12 games, throwing 49.2 innings, striking out 63 while walking 17 last season. Ended up with a 5-3 record and a 3.62 ERA in 2019.
#30 Jr LHP Trae Starnes (Catawba Valley)- Newcomer from Catawba Valley CC where he started 11 games last season and made 1 bullpen appearance. He threw 43 innings and struck out 48. Ended up with a 3-3 record and a 5.65 ERA in 2019.
#26 Jr LHP Chase Covington (Catawba Valley)- Lefty pitched for Catawba Valley CC over the past 2 seasons. He made 14 appearances in relief last season, striking out 30 over 15 IP.
#27 Fr LHP Christian Lothes (Lakewood Hebron HS, OH)- 1st Team All District Pitcher for Lakewood HS was one of the top LHP in Ohio last season. He has a Fastball topping out in the low 90s. 1st Team All Central Region by Perfect Game.
#38 Fr RHP Ethan Haislip (Cuthberson HS, NC) – Perfect Game 2nd Team All Atlantic Region Pitcher with a fastball in the upper 80s. Suffered a knee injury in the summer and will likely be in recovery mode this fall.
#32 Fr. RHP Mason Gwyn (North Surry HS, NC) – Predicted to be an immediate impact player from this class according to Prep Baseball Report NC. The WPAC Pitcher of the Year for North Surry HS has a fastball topping out in the low 90s.
Looking at the 2020 roster of position players compared to 2019, there are large holes to fill both offensively and defensively. In broad terms, the Niners lose 45% of their Runs scored and 50% of their total bases from the 2019 offense. Defensively, the Niners lose 4 regular starters that played a large role in the Niners finishing 2nd in C-USA in Fielding % in 2019.
Returning Position Players:
# 17 Sr Todd Elwood – Led the 49ers with a .333 batting average in 2019. Slashed at .333/.384/ 385 near the top of the order while playing solid defense in CF.
#2 Sr Carson Johnson – Started every game at 2B for the Niners in 2019 slashing .304/.385/.362 at the plate.
#36 Sr Rafi Vasquez – Spent some time at 1B, but was the regular DH in the 49ers line-up for 2019. Rafi led the team in HRs (12) and RBI (45) while hitting .289/.362/.543. Was injured during the summer season and will be limited this fall.
#45 Sr Austin Lynch– Started 22 games in RF during his 1st season with the Niners in 2019. The lefty batted .276/.402/.368.
#11 Sr Patrick Wheeler – Limited to 18 starts in CF before he suffered an injury at ODU making a game saving catch. Did not make and error in 2019 while batting .155/.261/.172. Five for five in SB attempts.
#10 Jr. Tate Pennington – Started 4 games at 3B and 1 in RF during the 2019 season. Batted .154/.261/.179 in a limited 39 ABs.
#1 Jr. Jake Whitcomb – Started 3 games as the 49er right fielder and batted .154/.313/ .231 in only 13 ABs.
#44 Jr. Jacob Whitley – Started 6 games behind the plate, and was used as a pinch hitter in 13 games in 2019. Batted .148/.148/.185 in a limited 27 ABs. Threw out 3 of 6 SB attempts last season.
#6 So. Josh Haney – Was named C-USA All-Freshman Team in 2019. Starting in 49 games at 3B as he batted .276/.328/.325.
#3 So. Carter Foster – Saw time as the DH and in RF but mostly used as a PH in his freshman season, batting .273/.359/.394 in 33 ABs.
#12 So. Riley Cheek – Started 6 games in RF as a freshman and saw action in 22 games. Slashed .176/.194/.176 in 34 ABs.
Incoming Position Players:
#9 Jr. Craig Keuchel (Hill College)- Had a slash line of .331/.418/.638 last season at Hill playing mostly C and 1B. Was named to the Prospect League All Star Game this summer for the Danville Dans.
#43 Jr. Nate Kinsch (Florida Southwestern State) – Played mainly the corner infield positions last season batting .239/.344/.325 for FSW. Spent a red shirt season at Coastal Carolina in 2017.
#18 So. Brady Pope (South Iredell HS) – Flips over to the diamond from the gridiron after playing QB for the 49ers last season. Played SS/3B this summer for the Catawba Valley Stars.
#24 Fr. David McCabe– (Everest Academy, Canada)- Big switch hitting corner infielder homered against the 49ers in an exhibition at the Hayes before last season with the Ontario Blue Jays.
#22 Fr. Dominic Pilolli – (Canfield HS, Ohio) – Solid defensive outfielder that has some power at the plate from the left side.
#16 Fr. Zach Weston (South Mecklenburg HS, NC)- Lefty Middle infielder was named “Sleeper” in this recruiting class by Prep Baseball Report NC.
#14 Fr. Vito Patierno (Heritage HS, NC) – Corner infielder, was all Conference at Heritage HS and a PG Pre-Season Atlantic Region All American 2nd Team.
#46 Conner Manco (Fort Mill HS, SC) – Lefty Corner infielder was named All-State in SC and All Region 3 5 A team. Rock Hill Herald All Area 2nd Team.