Ohio State Coach Greg Beals Joins the Baseball America College Podcast
On this edition of the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by Ohio State head coach Greg Beals to discuss the Buckeyes’ run to the Big Ten Tournament title in 2019, their No. 24 ranking in the Preseason Top 25 and the growth of the Big Ten as a baseball conference.
Much of the optimism about OSU comes from excitement about their starting rotation. Redshirt sophomore lefthander Seth Lonsway, sophomore righthander Garrett Burhenn and junior lefthander Griffan Smith combined to start 49 games last season, and they’re all back for 2020. And now, Beals is confident they’re ready to take the next step.
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“They had success last year. They saw how to do it. They got that experience,” Beals said of his rotation. “There’s been significant development this year. (With) Coach (Dan) DeLucia taking over the pitching staff there, we have implemented a lot more technology into our player development, especially with our pitching staff. Our guys have learned that. They’re shaping their pitches better, their repertoire is cleaner, they’re tunneling.”
Taking it a step further, if you factor in senior righthander Jake Vance, who started nine games in the midweek, sophomore righthander Will Pfennig, who started three games, and sophomore lefty Mitch Milheim, who made one start, only one starting assignment in 2019 belonged to a pitcher not on the 2020 roster.
The Buckeyes have the high-end talent on the staff to win games come the postseason, while also having the type of depth that can help you navigate a 56-game schedule.
The offense will have to cope with the losses of Dominic Canzone and Brady Cherry after they were the two best bats in the lineup last season, but junior catcher Dillon Dingler is a foundational piece the order can be built around.
After patrolling center field as a freshman for the sake of giving OSU its best nine-man lineup, he moved to his natural position behind the plate last season, all while taking off as a hitter as well. It’s been quite a ride for Dingler in Columbus and he keeps getting better.
“He’s become a baseball player,” Beals said. “Dillon is a great athlete. The first thing I would say about Dillon is ‘athlete, competitor, dude.’ He’s a guy’s guy, locker room guy, voted captain as a sophomore. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Defensively, Noah West could prove to be a huge key for Ohio State. He was limited to just 19 games last season due to injury after getting off to a solid start at the plate, but his absence was missed more defensively, as he left a significant hole at shortstop. His healthy return in time for the 2020 season will give Beals a chance to put his best defensive lineup out there.
“Noah West can flat-out defend,” Beals said. “He’s going to go back into that shortstop position this year. It’s going to allow us to move (Zach) Dezenzo, who played shortstop after West got hurt last year, back to third base. I think the infield defense is going to be a very strong point of our ball club. Noah West is right in the middle of that.”
OSU will go into the season behind only Michigan in the Big Ten pecking order, but the league is a gauntlet now and nothing is guaranteed. Few know that better than Beals, who has seen the conference’s success on the baseball field explode in his near-decade at the helm.
“The parity in our conference is pretty good, and I think it continues to get better,” Beals said. “What has happened is that there has just been an investment. There’s been an investment in people. There’s been an investment in facilities.”