By Mark Garland
This 2023 season was a whirlwind one, and it came to an end too soon for Oregon State Beaver fans. It was a tough final draw, versus an uber-talented LSU team that was top 5 in offense all year, and playing them at home proved to be just a little too much. Pitching injuries and just overall being short-handed in the arms department down the stretch made this a tough ask for the young, but talented, pitching staff. I think that Coaches Canham and Dorman did a terrific job, navigating the dwindling arms late in the season and giving the offense an opportunity to compete all weekend long. After going 2-2, both losses to LSU, the Beavers moved into the off season.
I believe this team has a tremendous amount of talent returning and will be ready to make a run at the Pac-12 and Omaha next season. All the great young arms got a lot of early experience. Nelson Keljo will be fighting for a weekend rotation spot, as he looked great from the left side. Relievers Aiden Jimenez and AJ Hutcheson gained valuable innings in tough spots this year. Returning starters Jaren Hunter and Jacob Kmatz, who missed time this season, will look to build off seasons that both ended too soon and left more to be desired.
Tyler Mejia, AJ Lattery, Ian Lawson, and Rhett Larsen should also return, looking to battle for innings possibly in the rotation. I believe in what Rich Dorman is doing with this staff, and I believe with the incoming arms, this team will be ready to compete in the 2024 season! I can’t wait to keep an eye on fall ball, as the Beavers make a trip to Canada!
On the offensive side, there is a ton to like! Let’s start with the guaranteed returners (as of today). Right now, two great defensive catchers with offensive upside return in Tanner Smith and Wilson Weber. Smith's receiving ability and arm are top class. At third base/shortstop, we have Mikey Kane, who was great on both sides of the ball! Travis Bazzana has one more year before becoming draft eligible and has the ability to be Pac-12 Player of the Year. Utility player Jacob Kreig showed in limited time that this big-bodied freshman has crazy pop and bat control, whether he's at first, third, or the outfield. Sophomore Mason Guerra came alive this year with crazy high ball-off-bat speed! He can play multiple positions but is better known for his hitting.
Of course Gavin Turley, the 5-tool freshman, has the ability to be a first round draft pick. He had a pretty roller coaster season, but there were flashes of brilliance. Brady Kasper was a good left handed bat, hitting double-digit homers and over .300. Rueben Cedillo will return after a trying season with injuries, but this young man has all the talent in the world. Dallas Macias and Easton Talt are two freshmen who got limited time but are ultra althletic. Look for them to push for playing time next season. Cannon Reeder is a speed demon who will only keep getting better. Type Peterson also came on late and will be battling for playing time!
There are some guys we don’t know for sure will return for the Beavers. Garrett Forrester has another year of eligibility, but if he is drafted high enough in this year's MLB draft, I believe he’s onto the next step. Micah McDowell had a Senior Day in front of the Beaver faithful but also still has another year remaining. It will be interesting to see if he goes pro, retires, or returns to the Beavers. Either way, it has been an absolute pleasure to see this young man turn into the player and leader we all hoped he could!
Closer Ryan Brown is most likely going to be playing pro ball next year. If for some reason he does return, look for him to push for a weekend rotation spot. Kyle Dernedde took place in Senior Day activities as well and is loved by the fans, players, and staff alike. I’m not sure if he plans to return to OSU for a final season, as he’d be competing with a lot of the younger talent! I love Kyle and couldn’t think of a nicer man to represent what it means to be a Beaver! No matter who returns, we can all appreciate the effort these guys put forth in a Beaver uniform for all of us to enjoy!
And Ben Ferrer, Trent Sellers, and TJ Wheeler are all seniors, and we thank them as well! TJ, if he’d never been injured, could have been an all-time Beaver great! Ben Ferrer might go down as one of the most clutch relievers in Oregon State history. Trent showed up on campus this fall and competed every day for this club! His tenacity and ability to make guys swing and miss was electric! Thank you, Seniors, for all you did!
Overall, I’m excited for next season and seeing just how this Beaver team progresses! Also, I just want to thank all the Beaver Nation faithful for following me on this journey and allowing me to cover such a tremendous team! You all make this experience amazing, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you!
I appreciate seeing all your faces at Goss Stadium and discussing ball with you on Twitter. Scott Amerman, a special shout out to you, my friend, for always being at games and helping me continue to cover this game, all while spreading positivity! You all are a huge reason why OSU Baseball succeeds!
To the OSU staff, thank you for being so great at molding young men into great men! Messrs. Canham, Dorman, Gibson, Barney, thank you for all the great interactions this year and continuing to show what it means to be a part of Beaver Nation! Braden Wells, Ryan Gorton, and all the support staff, thanks for everything you do for the team, fans, and media!
Can’t wait to see you all in 2024! And As Always Go Beavs!