GENERALS PREVIEW: With new coach, Victoria ready for fifth season
May 30, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.
Generals 2012 Season Recap
Record: 38-24, 2nd in TCL
Coach: Chris Clemons (3rd season)
Leading hitter: Jude Vidrine (.317 BA, 52 H, 9 2B, 4 HR
Leading pitcher: Dallas Ponder (0.76 ERA, 41 K, 2 ER)
Stephen Flora knows the players are good.
What will be the most challenging for the first-time head coach is getting the 25 players through the Victoria Generals' 60-game season.
"It's getting them to mesh in their own way," said the Generals coach before the start of his first practice with the team this season. "The biggest challenge is keeping them focused and fresh."
The Generals begin the 2013 Texas Collegiate League on Thursday night on the road against the Woodlands Strykers, in what marks the start of a season that could last through the middle of August.
With a roster filled with plenty of college freshmen and sophomores - who haven't been done with their own college seasons for long - keeping the Generals playing their best for two and a half months won't be easy.
"It's 60 games, six days a week. Hands down that is the biggest difficulty," Flora said. "Most of these guys have played only one full season of college baseball. Coming out of high school that's a big challenge."
To make things all the more difficult, Flora and his assistant coaches had just one practice to find the team's starters.
"We have at least a decent idea and today will show us more," Flora said of the Generals lone preseason practice. "It will be tough because, say you have two shortstops, who are you going to play? But that's the luxury of having 60 games."
One spot that is already filled is Thursday's opening day starter. That will be Texas junior Josh Urban, who posted a 1.51 ERA in 35 2/3 innings of work this past season.
"He (Urban) had the second best numbers on UT's pitching staff and they always have a great staff," Flora said. "He's a guy who is hopefully here for a little while but, the same token, it'd be good to see him get picked up in next week's draft and do some good things there."
The pitching staff figures to be one of the Generals' strengths in 2013. Along with Urban, is fellow Longhorn Kirby Bellow and Glenn Sparkmann (Wharton County Junior College), Kaleb Keith (Texas A&M - Corpus Christi) and returning General Daniel Tunchez, Jr. (Eastfield College) figure to contribute heavily on the mound during the season.
"I feel like its going to be strong," said Tunchez, who appeared in 11 games in 2012 for Victoria and went 3-2 with two saves, 16 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA. "This group was strong last year and I know they do a good job of recruiting here. It's always one of the best in the league."
In the infield, Kyle Thornell (McLennan Community College) and Mac Seibert (Meridian Community College), along with second year General Alex Klonowski (Northern Illinois), figure to headline a solid infield.
Klonowski is a dual-threat player, who showcased his skills in 161 at bats and 37 innings of work on the mound. This past season at Northern Illinois, he hit for a .292 batting average and posted a 4.97 ERA and 57 strikeouts.
Victoria has just five outfielders on its roster, but all five of them have starting potential. J.B. Moss just wrapped up his freshman season at Texas A&M and Frank Cloutier hit for .360 for Wharton Junior College this past spring.
However, with only one practice it's difficult for Flora to say who will be starting.
"I have an idea, but today's prcatice will give me a better idea," Flora said Wednesday. "Most of these guys are guys who play for buddies of mine on the college circuit or have seen them play somewhere."
• St. Joseph graduate Hayden Vesely will play for the Generals this summer. Vesely played the last two years at Blinn College and has signed to play for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi next season. Vesely was named to the Region XIV Conference All-Conference South Zone team after hitting .311 with one home run, four triples, 15 doubles and 35 RBIs.
• UHV graduate and former Victoria Generals infielder Chad Kruse is playing in New Mexico for the Roswell Invaders of the independent Pecos League. Kruse was on base seven times on Tuesday night, going 4 for 4 with two walks and being hit by a pitch. He is currently hitting .379 with four doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs.
• Former Victoria Generals pitcher Michael Oros is playing in Kentucky for the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League. Oros has made four relief appearances and has seven strikeouts in seven innings.