Overall, the Charlotte 49ers pitching staff had a pretty good season in 2022. The staff was 4th in Conference USA in ERA (4.88) and had the 3rd most strikeouts in the conference (532). There was a rough patch midway through the season that the staff battled through, but finished the season strong. The Niners had a veteran staff last season led by guys like Matt Brooks, Colby Bruce, Will Lancaster, Micheal Oh, Quinton Martinez and Jackson Boss. All of these guys were lost to graduation in the spring and the MLB Draft called upon lefty Spencer Giesting this summer. Overall, roughly 284 IP from last years staff is gone which amounts to close to 55%. The coaching staff stepped up to the challenge of replacing these innings through the recruiting class they have brought to campus. The pitching staff returning also looks to step in and fill many of those innings from last season.
Leading the returning pitchers, the 49ers have a trio of guys who saw the mound in a starting role last season in Collin Kramer, Hale Sims, and Cam Hansen. Lefty Collin Kramer saw 7 starts last season and made 18 appearances in relief finishing at 4-2 with a 4.07 ERA and 52 Ks. That was good enough to earn Kramer a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. Kramer will compete for a spot in the weekend rotation this season.
Senior RHP Hale Sims started 10 games last season and has made 30 mound appearances in his two seasons at Charlotte. He pitched to a 3-1 record with a 4.66 ERA and 51 Ks last season. He also earned C-USA Pitcher of the Week honors for the week of May 9th last season. He made several starts last season as the ‘opener’ but many outings, extended his appearance longer than as expected for an opener. Sims has also been competing for a starting rotation spot in the pre-season scrimmages.
The third returning pitcher with starting experience for the Niners is RHP Cam Hansen. Half of his 12 appearances were in a starting role in 2022. Over the season, Hansen had a 5.08 ERA with a 3-2 record. He earned C-USA Pitcher of the Week honors in March last season. We saw Hansen several times this pre-season and he is certainly in the mix to be a rotation guy.
There are several returning pitchers that the Niners relied on out of the pen last season on multiple occasions. RHP Tony Rossi led the 49ers with 28 appearances out of the pen last season. He was 5-1 in those appearances with a WHIP of 1.27. Lefty AJ Wilson was the next most used reliever last season with 26 appearances. He was 3-0 with 2 Saves last season. Look for both Rossi and Wilson to be called upon in high leverage situations this season.
Another high leverage reliever that we didn’t get to see a lot of last season due to injury is RHP Evan Michelson. Michelson could be one of the back end options for the Niners, consistently throwing in the mid-90’s. He made 6 appearances last season and was 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA.
Another pitcher that is returning is RHP Paxton Thompson. He only made one start last season and 7 relief appearances but after a successful summer in Forest City, he has been competing this pre-season for a bigger role. He has also been working on a promising career as a first base umpire during recent scrimmages.
Other returning pitchers that look to have increased roles this season are RHP Anthony Casciola (8 app, 5.11 ERA) & LHP Matt Little (4 app, 11.57 ERA). Casciola had a big summer with the LKN Copperheads making All-SCBL & Little did big things in the CPL for the High Point-Thomasville HiToms this summer.
There were some big arms missing from last year’s staff due to injury. LHP Christian Lothes missed last season after a big freshman season in 2021. He was named a Freshman All-American, 1st Team All Conference USA, and all-Freshman Team in C-USA. We are not sure what type of role C-Lo will take on in 2023 but it will be nice to have him back. If we were to guess, he will likely start out as a back end of the bullpen guy.
Another pitcher that missed last season due to injury is RHP Breven Yarbro. He was throwing mid 90’s earlier this spring and we are looking forward to seeing him make his first 49er appearance this season.
The Charlotte baseball staff knew that they had to replace over half of the innings pitched last season, so they jumped heavy into the transfer portal and the JUCO ranks to help fill the void. One of the headliners that signed with the Niners over the summer was RHP Donye Evans. Evans, who stands 6’6” and his hands went viral recently, transferred to Charlotte after spending two seasons at Vanderbilt. At Vanderbilt, Evans made 22 relief appearances over his two seasons striking out 19 over 18.2 IP. He also impressed with his performance in the Cape Cod League this summer for the Orleans Firebirds. Look for Donye to be a key piece of the weekend rotation this season for the Niners.
Evans’s teammate at Vanderbilt, RHP Miles Langhorne, also chose to make the trip to Charlotte to further his career. Langhorne spent a redshirt year at Vanderbilt recovering from surgery and did not see any playing time. He is listed as the #2 MLB Draft Prospect out of C-USA in the 2024 class by D1 Baseball and we have seen him impress during a recent scrimmage. It has been reported that his velo was up to 97 this spring. Look for him to be a significant contributor on the mound in 2023.
Another SEC transfer decided to take his talents to the Queen City in Kentucky RHP Wyatt Hudepohl. Hudepohl appeared in 38 games including 2 starts in his two seasons at Kentucky. He posted a 1-2 record with a 6.52 ERA in 48.1 IP over his career there. He also pitched I the Cape Cod League this summer for the Wareham Gatemen. Hudepohl was throwing mid-90s this spring. Look for him to be a key piece of the weekend rotation this year for Charlotte.
The Niners also picked up a transfer from former Conference USA rival Southern Miss in the portal with RHP Aubrey Gillentine. He made 24 relief appearances over his three seasons in Hattiesburg, striking out 22 over 29.2 IP. Look for Gillentine to contribute out of the bullpen on this year’s staff.
The Niners also added two veteran lefties out of the portal in Clark Dearman from Presbyterian and Sam Conte from Trinity University. Dearman comes to Charlotte after making 40 appearances (4 starts) in 3 seasons with the Blue Hose. Last season, he was named Big South Reliever of the Week twice and posted a 1-1 record with 4 Saves. Conte also brings a good bit of experience to the 49ers pitching staff after making 17 starts and 12 relief appearances over three seasons at Trinity University. Look to both of these guys to be key pieces to this pitching staff from the left side. We could see either one of them starting games this season.
Charlotte dipped into the Sunshine state pipeline to bring in three big arms from Florida JUCOs. RHP Nick Cosentino (State College of Florida), RHP Joel Sarver (NW Florida State College), and LHP Andrew Spolyar (Seminole State College) join the list of key players who have made a stop in Florida before coming the Charlotte (Tony Rossi, Evan Michelson, Aaron McKeithan, Austin Knight).
Cosentino struck out 83 in his 68 IP over two seasons at the State College of Florida. Sarver started 11 games last season for NW Florida State and went 5-4, with a 4.06 ERA and 72 Ks. Spolyar made 12 starts last season for Seminole State College and went 3-5 with a 6.43 ERA. These guys should see action out the bullpen this season for Charlotte.
The only freshman pitcher on the roster in 2023 is two-way player OF/ RHP Calvert Clark out of Charlotte Christian. Clark could be a contributor in many ways to the 2023 49ers team. He participated in the MLB Draft Combine this summer out in San Diego before deciding to come play college baseball.
Without respect to the order, we believe that Niner fans can expect to see following starters in this weekend’s 4-game series:
- Donye Evans
- Wyatt Hudepohl
- Collin Kramer
- Miles Langhorne
OK folks, that enough speculation. Let’s play ball! See you at The Hayes!