Abraham Give Michigan Dual Threat
By Patrick Hyde
for Big 10 coaches' survey results
players Zach Putnam and Adam Abraham took nearly opposite paths
to playing college baseball.
(pictured right), a junior first baseman, outfielder and
pitcher, took the more normal route. He played high school and
summer ball and won a plethora of awards and accolades.
Abraham, a junior third
baseman and pitcher, took the road less traveled. He played only
two years of high school baseball and spent his last two years
of high school playing hockey for Mississauga Ice Dogs of the
Ontario Hockey League. It appeared that Abraham was destined to
become a defender in the NHL.
But, the NHL lockout that
cancelled the 2004-05 season changed everything.
“I quit hockey because I
wasn’t sure about my future in hockey,” he said. “But Michigan
was a good chance to pursue another dream of mine and to get an
education. Coach offered me a scholarship and was going to give
me a chance to both pitch and hit.”
Though the courses they
have taken differ significantly, Putnam and Abraham give head
coach Rich Maloney two of the most potent two-way players in
“We are pretty fortunate
to have them,” Maloney said. “[Putnam] is a very rare player.
People are considering him in the highest realm of the draft at
both positions. I haven’t seen a player like him in a long time.
“Adam was an outstanding
hockey player. He has great hands, bat speed and strength that
come from hockey.”
Being a successful player
in the field, on the mound and in the batter’s box takes a lot
of prioritizing and creative training.
“It requires a great deal
of practice, but I’ve been doing this my whole life,” said
Putnam, who hit .330 with eight homers and 57 RBI and went 8-5
with a 3.87 ERA on the mound in 2007. “During practice, I try to
do equal amounts of everything.”
(pictured left) (.320/5/45; 5-1, 2.97 ERA, 2 saves) has a
“I split my time as much
as I can,” he said. “I don’t need as much bullpen work as some
of the other guys because my arm rebounds pretty well.”
After two years of
personal and team success – Michigan lost to Vanderbilt in the
NCAA Regionals in 2006 then upset the No. 1-ranked Commodores in
last year’s Regional when another two-way player, Alan Oaks, homered off No. 1 pick David Price; it then fell in the Super
Regionals to national champion Oregon State – Putnam, Abraham
and the rest of the Wolverines are aiming for Omaha this year.
“We are very talented and
have experience now,” Maloney said. “We hope to use those
experiences in a positive way, and I certainly like our chances
to win every day.”
The Wolverines return
several key players including utility player Nate Recknagel
(.352/12/61), shortstop Jason Christian (.328/7/44), outfielder
Derek VanBuskirk (.384/3/32) and pitchers Mike Wilson (7-1,
3.52) and Chris Fetter (6-3, 4.71) from last year’s team. The
team also is bolstered by a strong class of freshman.
Add to that a refurbished
ballpark, and Michigan is looking to host NCAA tourney games on
its drive to Omaha.
“If we have some success,
I would hope we can host a regional,” Maloney said. “Fifty-one
of 56 teams to Omaha in the last eight years have hosted at some
point in the tournament.”