July 1, 2006
Notre Dame standout closer Kyle Weiland – who ranked third nationally in 2006 while setting the Irish record for saves in a season (16) – has picked up another postseason honor, after being among the 15 players named by Baseball America to its prestigious first team Freshman All-America list for the 2006 season. Weiland (Albuquerue, N.M.) currently is competing for a spot on the USA Baseball National Team and is one of seven players at the USA tryout camp who also were named a first team Freshman All-American by BA.
Weiland’s earlier 2006 honors included second team all-BIG EAST Conference and a spot on Collegiate Baseball magazine’s Freshman All-America team (listed as one grouping, without first- or second-team designation). Notre Dame’s strong baseball heritage during the past 17 seasons has produced 19 different Freshman All-Americans but only three previous Irish players – infielder Brant Ust (’97), righthander Aaron Heilman (’98) and rightfielder Brian Stavisky (2000) – had been both a BA first team Freshman All-American and a member of the CB Freshman All-America team, with Weiland becoming the first with both of those honors in the past six seasons. Another former RHP, Grant Johnson, also was named to both Freshman All-America teams but was a second-team selection by BA (in 2002).
Weiland compiled a 2.37 season earned-run average that ranked fourth-best on the 2006 Irish staff while making 30 appearances, one shy of the Notre Dame freshman record (31) set by Heilman in ’98 (when he led the nation with a 1.61 ERA). In addition to posting nearly a 2.5-to-1 strikeout to walk average (48/20), the lanky 6-foot-4 righthander logged 11 more innings (49.1) than hits allowed (39, with only one home run) and limited opponents to a .224 opponent batting average that ranks third-best ever by an ND freshman behind Heilman’s .198 in 1998 and the .201 allowed by Larry Mohs in ’94. Weiland converted all but one of his save opportunities en route to nearly doubling Heilman’s freshman save record (9) while his 16 saves were three better than the previous overall Irish record (13) set by J.P. Gagne in 2003.
After a couple of rocky outings early in the 2006 season, Weiland closed with a 1.34 ERA over his final 20 apperances, also yielding just a .208 opponent batting average while compiling better than a 4-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (35/8) and allowing just 25 hits in that final stretch of 33.2 innings. He did not allow a home run in his final 28 outings, spanning 40 innings.
Notre Dame’s 18 previous Freshman All-Americans include eight who were named to the more selective Baseball America teams. Weiland joins six others who have been named BA first team Freshman All-Americans, alongside the likes of Ust, Heilman and Stavisky, plus RHP David Sinnes (’90) and second basemen Greg Layson (’91) and Steve Sollmann (’01). Johnson and outfielder Paul Failla (’92) – who later converted to shortstop – were named second team Freshman All-Americans by BA.
Weiland currently is competing at the USA Baseball tryouts alongside six others who were named Baseball America first team Freshman All-Americans for the 2006 season: Miami 2B Jemile Weeks, Washington State OF/RHP Jared Prince (selected as an OF), Eastern Kentucky LHP Christian Friedrich, Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez, Wichita State RHP Aaron Shafer and North Carolina C/1B Tim Federovich (selected as a catcher). The first team includes four starting pitchers while Weiland is the lone reliever on the elite list of top rookies. Friedrich’s pitching coach at EKU is former ND closer John Corbin, who shares the Irish record for career saves (20, just four ahead of Weiland’s one-year total).
The other two pitchers on the first team include Virginia’s Jacob Thompson and Winthrop’s Alex Wilson while Houston’s Luis Flores was selected as a utility player. The first-team honorees include five other position players: South Carolina 1B Justin Smoak, Georgia SS Gordan Beckham, Rice OF Aaron Luna, Tulane OF Warren McFadden and Delaware DH Alex Buchholz.
The weeklong Team USA trials – featuring a series of intrasquad scrimmages and games versus summer teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League – are set to conclude on July 1. USA Baseball then will trim the 35-player tryout group to a final 22-man roster that will comprise the USA squad for a summer-long series of games and tournaments, with the most noteworthy competition coming at the end of the summer in the World University Championships (to be held in Cuba).
Weiland is attempting to join Ust (’98), Heilman (’99) and Johnson (’02) as the fourth Notre Dame baseball player to be named to the USA National Team during the past nine years.
See the following link for the complete Baseball America list of 2006 Freshman All-Americans (additional Weiland bio. info. is included below).
Weiland converted 16-of-17 save chances while compiling a 2.37 ERA during the 2006 season (photo by Pete LaFleur).
Kyle Weiland UPDATED BIO. CAPSULE (Fr., RHP, 6-4/175; Albuquerque, N.M.)
(see roster link on und.com for preseason bio., including pre-ND info.; roster bio. page also includes link to articles on Weiland and link to his 2006 game-by-game stats)
One of 15 players named by Baseball America to its elite first team Freshman All-America list for the 2006 season … also named by Collegiate Baseball magazine to its 2006 Freshman All-America team while joining Notre Dame DH/2B Jeremy Barnes as second team all-BIG EAST Conference selections … one of four Notre Dame players ever to be a BA first team Freshman All-American and a CB Freshman All-American … among 35 players invited to official tryouts for the 2006 USA Baseball National Team (final 22-player roster TBA on July 2) … finished 2006 season ranked 3rd in nation with 16 saves, trailing only Oregon State’s Kevin Gunderson (20) and Don Czyz of Kansas (19) … ended up 13 innings shy of the NCAA minimum for the national ERA leaders (his 2.37 would have ranked 36th on that list) … among BIG EAST pitchers, his 16 saves were nearly double the total by the next player on that list (Georgetown’s Daniel Kennedy had 9 saves) … his 30 appearances ranked 3rd among BIG EAST pitchers, behind South Florida’s Chase Lirette (36) and Louisville’s Griffin Bailey (34) … Lirette (30) was the only BIG EAST pitcher to finish more games than Weiland (29) … if Weiland had met the inning minimum, his 2.37 ERA would have ranked 3rd-best in the BIG EAST (behind the 2.00 posted by teammate Wade Korpi and the 2.04 by UConn’s Tim Norton) while his .224 opp. batting avg. would have been 5th, behind Norton (.190), Korpi (.204), Scott Barnes of St. John’s (.218) and another ND teammate, Jeff Manship (.223) …
IN THE ND RECORD BOOK – His 16 saves blew past the ND freshman record (9, by Aaron Heilman in ’98) and then bested the ND overall season record (13) set by J.P. Gagne in 2003 … already ranks 4th in ND record book for career saves, trailing only John Corbin (20; ’97-’00), Ryan Doherty (20; ’03-’05) and Gagne (19; ’00-’03) … surpassed 40 innings in the 2006 season and thus qualified for the ND single-season ERA charts … his 2.37 season ERA ranks 25th in the ND record book and 8th-best in the 12-year Paul Mainieri era, behind Heilman (1.61 in ’98; 1.74 in ’01), Korpi (2.00 in ’06), Tom Thornton (1.81 in ’03), Grant Johnson (1.87 in ’04), Peter Ogilvie (1.90 in ’01) and Darin Schmalz (2.23 in ’96) … Mike Coffey (37, in ’89) and Heilman (31, in ’98) are the only ND pitchers ever to log more appearances in a season than Weiland (30; one shy of Heilman’s freshman record) … three other ND pitchers – Corbin (’00), Gagne (’03) and Doherty (’04) – also had 30 GP in a season (each of those former closers had the chance to see Weiland pitch this season) … limited opponents to a .224 batting avg. that ranks 3rd-best ever by an ND freshman behind Heilman’s .198 in ’98 and the .201 allowed by Larry Mohs in ’94 … his 49.1 innings are among the most by an ND closer in recent history and most since Gagne logged 53.0 in ’03 (he also had a 7-inning start that season) …
Weiland – picured during midseason – was impressive in his final outing of the 2006 season, logging 7.0-plus innings out of the bullpen as the Irish battled the College of Charleston in a 16-inning NCAA Tournament classic (photo by Matt Cashore).
2006 STATISTICAL SUMMARY – Played a lead role in helping ND currently rank 21st nationally in staff ERA (3.52), 27th in Ks per 9.0 IP(7.9) and 12th in win pct. (.722; 45-17-1) … led ’06 staff in saves (16) and GP (30) while his 2.37 ERA was 4th-best, behind LHPs Korpi (2.00) and Mike Dury (2.17) and RHP Jess Stewart (2.31) … compiled 4th-best opp. batting avg. on staff (.224), behind Korpi (.204), Dury (.208) and Manship (.224) … totaled 5th-most strikeouts (48) and innings (49.1) on staff (also 5th with 15 Ks “looking”) … had the most wild pitches (6) and hit batters (8) on staff, with his other stats including a 2-4 record (2-1 in final three decisions, with loss coming in 16-inning NCAA game) … his 1.71 groundout/flyout ratio (58 total GOs) was 2nd on the staff behind Manship’s 1.82 … allowed 9-of-16 inherited runners to score (56%) while first batters hit 8-for-26 (.308) vs. him (3 BB, HBP, 6 R, 7 Ks) and opposing batters reached 50% of the time (21-of-42) when leading off any inning (the rest of the staff allowed just 33% of leadoff batters to reach) … despite those rocky starts to his appearances, he led the staff with a lowly .183 opp. batting avg. when runners were on base (17-for-93) and also had the lowest 2-out opp. batting avg. on the staff (.145; 9-for-62) … after facing the first batters in his outings (.308, 8-for-26), he held opposing hitters to a combined .210 batting avg. (31-for-148) … his 9-inning averages: 8.8 Ks (3rd-best behind Korpi’s 11.1 and Manship’s 10.6), 3.6 BB, 7.1 H (3rd-best, behind Korpi’s 6.5 and Dury’s 6.5), 10.6 GOs and 39.0 batters faced … averaged nearly 20 outs per 9.0 IP via Ks or GOs (19.4) … limited RH hitters to .198 batting avg. (23-for-116) … the only Irish pitcher with better success v. RH hitters actually was a LHP (Dury, .167) … his opp. batting avg. by LH hitters was .276 (7th on staff) … his season ERA stood at 4.60 in early April, with a .259 opp. batting avg. (14-for-54), nearly as many walks (12) as Ks (13) and almost as many hits allowed (14) as innings (15.2) at that point (10 GP) … his impressive second half of the season included a 1.34 ERA and .208 opp. batting avg. in final 20 GP, with better than a 4-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (35/8) and just 25 H in 33.2 IP … converted first nine save chances and final seven save opp.’s … only failed save came in series finale vs. St. John’s on April 15, but the Irish rallied (7-5) to give him the win (2 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 4 H, BB, K, WP, 2 inher. runners scored) … helped ND staff allow just 18 home runs all season … allowed a costly HR in his second appearance (pinch-hit blast in extra innings of loss to Memphis) but he did not allow a long ball in his final 28 GP (40 IP) … led the way for an ND bullpen that allowed just 3 HRs all season (in 102 IP) and none in final 21 GP (79 IP) … was part of amazing 25-game stretch in which the entire ND pitching staff did not allow a home run (spanning nearly 1,000 BF) …
2006 HIGHLIGHTS – His signature outing came in NCAA Lexington Regional, logging season-high 7.0-plus innings before heartbreaking 5-4 loss to College of Charleston in 16 innings … the ND and CC pitching staffs combined to throw 19 straight zeroes up on the scoreboard before the decisive rally … threw 103 pitches (60 strikes), with his 21 outs including 7 Ks and 9 GOs … allowed four leadoff batters to reach but limited CC to 1-for-9 batting with runners on base and 0-for-8 with 2-outs … his clutch pitches in that game included: blowing an 0-2 pitch by Jess Easterling in the 10th (runner on 3rd; 2-outs); striking out Chris Campbell in the 12th (runner on 2nd; 2-outs; behind 0-2 before four straight breaking balls and full-count K) … inducing 1-out flyout and groundout in 13th (with runners on 1st and 2nd); and a rightside groundout from Campbell to end the 14th (with a runner on 3rd) … his only other extended outing came in finale of showdown series at UConn, logging 5.0 IP as game ended 1-1 after 13 innings due to the travel curfew (0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 Ks) … picked up wins over St. John’s (2.0 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 4 H, BB, K; 7-5) and IPFW (1.2 IP, K; 4-3) while his top saves included shutout outings vs. then-#15 Texas A&M (2.0 IP, 4 BB, K; 5-4), Illinois (0.1 IP; 4-2), Central Michigan (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 Ks; 11-9), Ball State (0.2 IP; 6-4), South Florida (1.0 IP, H, 2 Ks; 9-6), Rutgers (2.2 IP, 2 H, 4 Ks; 14-12), Purdue (1.0 IP, H; 2-1) and UConn (0.2 IP; 7-6) – plus pair of saves at BIG EAST Tournament vs. USF (1.1 IP, H, 2 Ks; 3-1 opener) and in 5-3 elimination game vs. SJU ( 2 IP, R, 3 H, BB, 3 Ks).