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Baseball Season Preview: Top Three Returning Players

January 20, 2023

With Baylor baseball’s season opener against Central Michigan being less than a month away, it's time to start breaking down some of the biggest storylines and questions heading into the 2023 season. 

Today, I’ll break down who I believe are the three best-returning players from last year’s roster. And in the coming days, I will highlight the top three impact transfers that were brought in, the top three wildcards on the team and my three biggest questions for the team.

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Blake Helton will likely be the Friday starter for the Bears in 2023.

Blake Helton – The 5th-year senior will anchor the Bears’ rotation this spring after he elected to use his extra year of Covid eligibility at Baylor in 2023. Helton missed the majority of the 2022 season due to various injuries but came back for the final month and was fantastic down the stretch. 

In brief stints against Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the Austin native combined to allow only one earned run in 5.1 innings pitched.

In the Big 12 Tournament opener against No. 1 seed TCU, Helton pitched a masterful game and put the Bears in a position to pull off the upset, allowing only 2 ER, 5 H and 4 BB in 6.1 innings pitched and striking out seven.

Perfect Game released their pre-season All-Big 12 team, and no Baylor players were featured on the list. However, I believe by the end of the season, Helton has a strong chance to be an all-conference pitcher.

Off the field, expect Helton to be a clubhouse leader and a key piece in helping Mitch Thompson instill a new culture in the program.

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When healthy, Will Rigney can be one of the best pitchers in the Big 12.

Will Rigney – Unfortunately, 2022 ended just like 2021 did for Will Rigney, with a season-ending injury. The 4th-year player and Waco Midway product will start the 2023 season on the shelf, but there is optimism from the staff that he will likely return at some point.

There’s no doubt when the 6-foot-6 right-hander is on the mound and healthy; he can be dominant. In the six starts last season that Rigney went over four innings, he allowed 12 earned runs, 27 hits and 9 walks while striking out 33 in 31 innings pitched, which was good for a solid 3.48 ERA and an above-average WHIP of 1.16.

If Baylor can get consistent high-level pitching from Helton and Rigney in Big 12 play, this team has the ability to surprise a lot of people.

Casen Neumann – As a sophomore heading into the 2023 season, Casen Neumann should have an opportunity to flash his potential at the plate in an everyday starting role. 

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Casen Neumann is slotted as the starting DH for the Bears going into the spring.

In only 72 at-bats in 2022, Neumann recorded 21 hits, 15 RBI and 11 BB while batting for an average of .292. The numbers may not jump off the page to the casual fan, but I believe that inconsistency plagued Neumann throughout his freshman campaign. 

You can tell the talent is there just from watching his sweet swing from the left side. However, Steve Rodriguez and his staff never gave Neumann the chance to be the full-time designated hitter, which seemed a little mind-boggling at the time, considering the lack of power from the bottom of the lineup last season. 

However, with hitting instruction from Mitch Thompson and Zach Dillon, I expect Neumann to take massive steps forward and be one of the better hitters on the team in 2023.

Next up: Top Three Impact Transfers

Discussion from...

Baseball Season Preview: Top Three Returning Players

1,717 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by SoonerFrogs
Gentle Ben
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I sure am looking forward to getting excited about Baylor baseball after these past meager years. So glad to have Coach Thompson at the helm.
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Get your season tickets. It's gonna be fun again.
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I'm on board the Mitch train. This'll be the first time for me following baseball in awhile. Got a feeling there are plenty of others out there in the same boat. Gonna be a fun ride.
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Looking forward to this season. I went to about six games over the last two years. Hope to catch that many by March this year.
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