Nebraska baseball coach Will Bolt met with the local media Friday morning to discuss the Huskers’ fall workouts. Some of Bolt’s remarks are below, while the video features his full comments along with Husker players Max Schrieber and Cam Chick.
Media Session with Nebraska Coach Will Bolt
Is there more focus on the mental preparation, as you deal with everything or have the guys been focused through the offseason
Bolt: I think it kind of goes back to the things that we try to preach to them daily even before the pandemic. You never know when this game or this practice may be your last for whatever reason. We were living that firsthand back in March when we got the season ripped away from us. There were some uneasy times there for a couple months. I think once our guys were able to start playing some summer baseball, getting back out there and getting back into some of their routines, you could just kind of tell the spirits picked up a little bit. That’s really carried on into the fall where guys basically played all the way into August and fortunately, we’re able to get in and start training, pretty much immediately. Baseball such a game of repetition and such a game where you just got to show up every day and try to be as consistent as you can. Those are the things we try to preach to them, even before that and then just kind of try to continue that on even during those strange times
On the roster depth heading into the fall and the opportunity to move players around this fall
Bolt: That was definitely a focus with the roster management in the offseason, just some of the moves that we’ve made bringing guys in. We wanted to address the depth in the infield and behind the plate. I think we’ve done that. We’ve added some pieces that are versatile athletic physical, you know, hopefully durability comes from that. And just having the ability to have some different moving parts. Guys can play different spots. We wanted to have multiple guys on our roster that we felt like we could play shortstop if need be, kind of, knowing that Spencer would have a chance to pitch this year, possibly. So far so good. Just kind of seeing what we’ve seen just in the limited time for a couple of weeks here. I was pleased yesterday. Just seeing first scrimmage out of the chute where we were pretty crisp, especially defensively. You saw a lot of a lot of different guys handle the ball in some different positions. So definitely a key focus for us and the offseason with kind of a rebuild of the roster a little bit. I’m pretty excited with where we’re at that way.
On what Spencer Schwellenbach’s potential role for next season
Bolt: He throws a lot of strikes. Just seeing his numbers in high school of what he was able to do from a strikeout-to-walk ratio. He really didn’t walk many guys at all, which is pretty rare for a guy that that is being asked in high school to do both. He’s a power pitcher. He has been up to the mid 90s, even in high school. I don’t know quite what to expect just yet. He’ll throw today in an inner squad, but it looks good in the bullpen. He’s been around the strike zone. He’s got three pitches that he can offer all above average. To be a two-way guy would be tough for him, probably to start at shortstop and be a starting pitcher as well. So you’re probably looking at more of a back-end type guy.
There’s been a kind of a long history of good college baseball teams that have had maybe a dynamic position player like Spencer is that can come finish some games off. I feel like we’ve got some good options at the back end of the bullpen. Again, it’s kind of one of those things I’ve told our players to there’s going to be a lot of teams that have a lot of options you know guys coming back that maybe they didn’t expect. The more the better and and Spencer certainly adds to that depth.
What is challenge of evaluating with an expanded roster this fall.
Bolt: You know, we actually have the same number we had this time last year. We had 42 guys so you know from that standpoint, it’s not entirely different. Again you are juggling, maybe a little bit more depth into some certain positions. You just gotta manage your time accordingly when it comes to the batting practice, your bullpen sessions and things like that. Like I said, there’s not a whole lot different than in the past. Last year we had 42 guys going in the fall and it’s the same this year. Everybody from one through 42, we try to give them equal opportunities to get the job done and to get as much practice time as possible.
On the emphasis on keeping top in-state talent at Nebraska
Bolt: Well, I think when you’re talking about having a recruiting strategy, you got to start somewhere and no better place to start than in your own state. I think it is just one of those things where having played here, having been an assistant coach here and recruited in the state, obviously know the love for the Huskers that most everybody has in the state. They grow up coming to games here. A lot of their parents went to school here. They grow up with Huskers in their blood. That part of it is big, but again, we’re going to go where the talent is too. You got to have a strategy. You’ve got to start somewhere, and Nebraska has really good high school baseball.
A lot of guys that go off are maybe a little bit of late bloomers like you alluded to with junior college players. Guys that maybe hadn’t made a name for themselves at all out of high school, but the work habits that are ingrained in them. They come back, and they are bigger, stronger, faster, and more ready to play the Division I level like Griffin Everett, Luke Sartori and those type of guys. It’s a strategy I think more than anything, and the fact that there’s really good baseball in the state and the fact that, you know, we want to make sure that those guys want to continue to come to Nebraska and not go elsewhere. I mean that’s the biggest number one push.
Was 15 games last year enough time to evaluate and get a look at what you had on your roster, and how did that affect the roster decisions over the summer.
Bolt: It was a bit of a small sample size, but we did feel like with the two games last fall, plus the six weeks of training and the ramp time leading up to our season. So we had some live at bats that we’re able to see from some guys. We kind of had an idea of how we wanted the roster to look in terms of athleticism, versatility and on the mound. The type of guys that were feel like are going to help us win. Although the season was short, I feel like we saw a lot in a pretty short amount of time. We played a tough schedule. You kind of get a feel for who is going to handle velocity because we saw a lot of it early in the spring. From a pitching standpoint, we were facing a couple of lineups that were top-10 type lineup so who’s able to navigate you know through those lineup. We were able to see some of those things. We felt like we wanted to get a little bit more experience on the mound, which we made some junior college moves that way. Got the grad transfer there with Chance Hroch.
We were able to see enough, I think. Honestly being finished and having our exit meetings in April probably helped us turn the roster over the way we did Usually it is June hopefully if you’re playing in the postseason and then you’re having your exit meetings and it was a pretty short amount of time there to do some things. Once I kind of figured out that our season was done and we weren’t going to come back and play again, it was in ultimate recruit mode and ultimate let’s get focused on the ’21 team so that was kind of how that went down.
How much are you looking to change pitching roles in the fall
Bolt: I think we’ll just take a look at everything. Shay (Schanaman) went off and started this summer and did a really nice job. We’ll take a look at him, kind of extending him out a little bit. I think there’s we’ve got several options that can get through a lineup more than one time, so we’ll take a look. Probably nobody’s going to throw more than three innings, maybe four by the time we get to the end of the fall, but again, it’s what you’re seeing in those outings. Can a guy get ahead? Can he put guys away? Is he going to be around the zone? Can he change speeds? Those are things you’re looking for, guys that can get you later into a ball game as a starter. Then you’ve got your guys who maybe profile, more as bullpen guys. Where they’ve got one good offering and another one that they can maybe get three outs for you. We’ll take a look at all that stuff. We are kind of going to just have a variety different roles that we’re going to look at our pictures for sure.
On Max Anderson and the role you see him playing this year.
Bolt: Max is very mature for a freshman, just in terms of the way he shows up to the yard. I mean, he’s just very even keel. He’s not going to get too high or too low. I think the thing that we saw with him in high school is he just has a knack to find the barrel. He’s just got a nose for it. He seems a square a lot of balls up, and he’s got the plate covered. He’s got enough bad speed to cover the inside part of the plate as well. He was a high School shortstop, but we’ve seen him play third, some first base. I think the bat’s going to play. It’s going to play pretty quickly. We’re going to have to get creative and figure out how we are going (to get him at bats). It’s a good problem to have when you feel like you’ve got multiple guys that deserve to play. They will get the shot as long as they continue to work hard.