Baseball bullish about power – The Daily Iowan
By Pete Ruden
With the Iowa baseball season starting this week, there is a lot of buzz around the team and what it can accomplish this year.
Coming off a Big Ten Championship game appearance last year, the Hawkeyes will seek to get maintain that level of play.
While such leaders as Nick Roscetti, Joel Booker, and Tyler Peyton got picked in the MLB Draft this past summer, Iowa has a number of newcomers who will try to fill those spots. Though that is no easy task, there is definitely potential.
Jake Adams, a first-team All-American at DMACC, is slated to get the starting nod at first base. Adams hit .360 with 25 home runs and 75 RBIs last season with the Bears.
Head coach Rick Heller praised his ability to hit with power, saying it was as good as anyone he has coached.
In addition to Adams, Iowa Western transfer Tyler Cropley is penciled in as the starting catcher after hitting .403 with 5 home runs and 29 runs batted in last year, which earned him a first-team all-region selection.
An athletic catcher, Cropley is also set to be the team’s leadoff hitter, rare for a catcher not named Craig Biggio.
Cropley already has a blueprint for the Hawkeyes to have a successful season. While that’s a good thing for the team, his plan might be easier said than done.
“Just do my part. I think that’s what everybody has to do on this team,” he said. “If everybody does his part, we’re going to have a good season.”
Power on point
Even though the season hasn’t started yet, the power-hitting potential is something opponents and fans alike should take note of.
The Hawkeyes return sophomore Robert Neustrom, who was recently named preseason All-Big Ten by Perfect Game.
In his true freshman year, Neustrom put his power on display; he had 21 RBIs to go along with 24 runs scored while hitting .307, good for third on the team behind Booker and Peyton.
The Neustrom-Adams tandem, who will likely bat in the third and fourth spots in the lineup, will be a big key for Iowa’s ability to generate runs.
With those two in the lineup, Heller thinks this team has the chance to be more of a power hitting team than in the past.
“A lot depends on Jake. If Jake’s able to make the transition quickly from junior college to Division-1 pitching, it could be a lot of power, because he has it,” Heller said. “Then throw in Robert Neustrom, who’s right there with Jake from the raw power standpoint. Robert had a really nice freshman season, but I think all of us, including Robert, will tell you it’s just the tip of the iceberg of his hitting ability.”
Opportunity is knocking on offense
With the main trio of Roscetti, Booker, and Peyton gone, there is a lot of opportunity for the younger players to step up and prove themselves.
After last season ended, Iowa lost more than half of its production of hits, home runs, RBIs, runs scored, steals, and triples.
All won’t be lost, though, as the Hawkeyes can still rely on players such as Neustrom, Adams, Cropley, and senior captain Mason McCoy, who is moving from third base to shortstop this year.
With incredible pitching depth that includes starters Nick Gallagher and C.J. Eldred, as well as co-closers Josh Martsching and Zach Daniels, and a very capable defensive team behind them, generating offense will be a key for Iowa.
With that, the potential to make a run in the postseason is there.
“I think we have the power to do better than we did last year,” Neustrom said. “Our pitching staff’s been looking really well, I think our hitting’s going to be a lot better, and I think that’s just a recipe for success for this team.”