Stacked UL pitching staff looks the part going into 2020

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser


That’s how first-year UL baseball coach Matt Deggs sees his pitching staff heading into the 2020 season, which for the No. 24 Ragin’ Cajuns begins Friday night against Southeastern Louisiana on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.

“We’ve got three or four guys that I call alpha dogs that can go out and set a great tone for us,” Deggs said when asked several days ago about potential starters.

“That’s four off the top, and we’re not talking about Jack Burk, who hasn’t quite made it back from injury.

“Austin Perrin is another kid that threw huge innings last year,” Deggs added. “He’s not quite back yet, but he will be.”

Related:Cajuns starter Perrin eating up lots of UL innings

More:Perrin closes Cajuns win after Burk's elbow tightens

With the start of 2020 season coming Friday night, UL pitcher Austin Perrin still is a few weeks away from returning from a shoulder injury.

All four of the likely early season top starters are newcomers who stand 6 feet, 4 inches or taller, with Carter Robinson checking in at 6'8", Conor Angel and Will Moriarty at both at 6'5" and Jeff Wilson 6'4".

Another possibility to start is returnee Brandon Young, who stands 6'6" himself.

“We’ve got a chance to score two or three runs just when we get off the bus,” Deggs said, “just from looking the part.”

And that’s without bats.

But wait, there’s more.

“We’re deep in the middle and the back,” Deggs said.

Who will set up? Who will close?

More:Divide closed, Deggs likes how UL compares to 2014 club

“I don’t think it’s gonna matter, honestly,” senior reliever Caleb Armstrong said.

“I mean, we’ve got 10 or 12 guys that can go out there and pitch against anyone anytime. And I say that with full conviction. Since I’ve been here we haven’t had this much depth out of the bullpen.

“I think it’s going to be hard to establish a role just because we have so much depth,” Armstrong added. “So, we’re just gonna have to stay ready and whenever our name’s called go get the job done.”

With Opening Night fast approaching, here's a look at the Cajuns on the mound …


Deggs loves his starting material.

Angel, he said, “reminds me a lot of Austin Robichaux,” the son of late UL coach Tony Robichaux and an ex-Cajuns pitcher.

Robichaux, who went on to pitch at as high as the AAA level in the Los Angeles Angels organization, is a lanky 6-6 and 175 pounds.

More:Deggs honored to carry Robichaux's torch as UL coach

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“A little heavier than Austin was, but still kind of thin,” Deggs said of Angel, listed at 190 pounds.

“Low three-quarter delivery. He can sink it, he can slide it. He’s athletic as well. He’s a guy that’s gonna be a good draft pick as well.”

Deggs, who was not ready to name his Opening Night starter early in the week, said the 225-pound Robinson has “a four-pitch mix and he plays anywhere, anytime.”

Named the Spalding NJCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year out of Mesa (Arizona) Community College, Robinson threw two postseason complete-game shutouts last year and — with a 1.53 ERA over 112.0 innings — was the only juco pitcher to work 100-plus innings in 2019.

Wilson, a 225-pounder out of Grayson (Texas) College, has a three-pitch mix.

“He can sink it, he can slide it, he can pull it,” Deggs said.

The 220-pound Moriarty is a transfer from Northwest Florida State College who can also played in the outfield.

“He’s gonna be 88-92 (miles per hour),” Deggs said. “He can pound the zone with a plus changeup and a good breaking ball.”

But out of the mix is Jason Nelson, selected by the San Diego Padres in the 31st round of last year’s MLB Draft. He decided to come to UL even after getting drafted, but is being redshirted while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Related:Padres pick Cajuns pitcher signee Nelson in MLB Draft


Deggs said Monday that Perrin and Burk, both coming off injuries, are “pretty close” to being ready.

Both, however, also are at least a few weeks away.

“But just add them to the stable when they get back,” Deggs said.

Perrin, a junior who had the most starts of any Cajun with 10 last year, was up to 91-92 mph hour in the fall, according to Deggs.

He’s been dealing with a throwing shoulder issue.

“Such a touchy thing; the lat can be a tremendously up and down type injury,” Deggs said.

“I don’t think he got it as bad as you can. (But) I had a couple different guys throughout my career miss a year with it, and we’re talking about three or four months right now with him and he’s already about to throw bullpen.”

Perrin is one of just two full-time pitchers on the UL staff who throw left-handed, along with middle reliever Brock Batty, so position players Brennan Breaux, the Cajuns’ starting centerfielder, Colton Frank and/or juco-transfer Brandon Talley could both come in to work on the mound on occasion as well.

Related:He did it at STM; now UL's Brennan Breaux may pitch too

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Burk, according to Deggs, has been trying to heal a torn abductor muscle in the groin-ab area.

“Arm is ready to go,” Deggs said of the senior. “It’s a matter of how much can he move.”

Burk, whenever he is ready, is a contender for middle relief work if he’s not starting, as is Young, who had nine starts in 16 appearances last season.

Burk was 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 12 appearances including seven starts in 2019.

Armstrong, who throws with a low arm slot, is another candidate for middle relief.

More:UL shortstop Cantrelle tuning out hot MLB Draft talk


Perhaps the top contender to close is Connor Cooke, who had 21 relief-role appearances a season ago.  

Deggs said he’s made “a huge jump” for 2019, when he was 3-0 but had a 7.99 ERA over 32.2 innings.

“He’s up to 95, 96 in the fall,” the Cajuns coach said. “He lowered his hand just a touch. He’s getting a lot of life on the baseball now.

“He can spin it. Now he’s got a changeup. He’s gonna work at the back of games.”


Deggs wants to eventually have a set starting rotation.

But with sights set on a 70-game season and a hopeful College World Series appearance, he’s willing to move guys around too if need be.

“To win that war you need to do absolutely whatever it takes to win every single battle,” Deggs said.

“So if I’ve got to work a Sunday guy to win a Friday game I’ll do it — because we have a couple guys behind him I have no problem starting.

“And I’m a firm believer that’s how you win tournaments and Regionals, is you do whatever it takes to win the first one,” Deggs added. “You can’t sweep unless you win the first one.”

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