While the Gophers baseball team prepared for its season opener in Arizona this weekend, most of the preseason attention on it has focused on pitcher Max Meyer. The junior righthander from Woodbury was named to five preseason All-America teams. He is projected as a first-round pick in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft and has been called the top pitcher and top draft prospect in the Big Ten Conference.
“Max is easy to point to,” Gophers coach John Anderson said, “because of what he’s done for us the past two seasons and for Team USA last summer.”
Meyer was 5-3 with two saves and a 2.11 ERA for the Gophers last season and struck out 87 in 76⅔ innings. But he is only one of a group of talented pitchers on the roster.
“I don’t think I’ve had a deeper, more talented staff during my tenure here,” said Anderson, beginning his 39th season as Gophers coach. “No question, when you look at this pitching staff, we have a lot of experience, talent and depth.”
Among the talented pitchers are juniors Patrick Fredrickson and Sam Thoresen and sophomore J.P. Massey. Joining them is redshirt sophomore Drake Davis, who sat out last season as a transfer from Arizona State. Baseball America has listed all four as among the top 20 draft prospects in the Big Ten.
Thoresen, from Minnetonka, was 4-3 with a 5.24 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 46⅓ innings last season. Fredrickson was 2-5 last season after going 9-0 and earning freshman All-America team honors (along with Meyer) two seasons ago. Massey had 31 strikeouts in 25 innings last season.
“Sam has steadily gotten better,” Anderson said. “Max and Patrick both learned a lot last year. Having three starters is a good place to start.”
The Gophers pitching staff had a 4.17 ERA last season and limited opponents to a .233 batting average. The Gophers struck out 536 in 500⅔ innings.
Among the returning position players is Jordan Kozicky, the team’s lone senior. A Minneapolis Southwest grad, Kozicky led the Gophers with 11 home runs and 49 RBI in 2019.