Feb. 18, 2013
Big West Preview
Thurman Display Big Talent in the Big West
By Sean Ryan
Lorenzen (right) was an 8-year-old playing Little League
baseball when he caught the eye of coaches for a travel ball
team in Southern California. Soon after joining the Orange
County Bandits, he befriended a pitcher named Andrew Thurman.
Thurman, remembers Lorenzen, would warm up by
throwing with his dad, a pitching coach, from longer distances
than the plate 46 feet away. When he took the mound, Thurman
often would be up in the zone for a couple innings until he
“He was one of my really good friends on that
team,” Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen had a strong arm
of his own. Very strong, recalls Thurman.
up, he was always a great player,” Thurman (left) said. “He
always stood out.”
These days, Lorenzen and Thurman not only are two
of the best players in the Big West Conference, but also rank
among the best in college baseball. Lorenzen, a junior center
fielder and pitcher at Cal State Fullerton, and Thurman, a
junior pitcher at UC Irvine, each are part of the
CollegeBaseballInsider.com/Louisville Slugger Preseason
All-American first team and expected to be highly sought after
come Major League Draft time.
“He’s the best centerfielder in the country in my
opinion, the full package, there’s nobody better,” Titans coach
Rick Vanderhook said about Lorenzen.
Anteaters coach Mike Gillespie believes Thurman
already is good but can get even better if his command gets a
little better: “If it is, he could be a special college
was nothing short of special last season, going 8-3 with a 2.66
ERA and four complete games, and nothing short of spectacular
one week last season. In the span of six days, Thurman took a
no-hitter into the ninth inning in a 4-1 win over Lorenzen and
Cal State Fullerton then tossed a no-no against Long Beach
Gillespie, who has won 963 games in 25 years as a
Division I coach, can’t recall seeing such a performance in his
“I don’t think so…I never really thought about
that,” Gillespie said. “We had lots of headliners. [Mark] Prior
was unbelievably consistent week after week after week. I don’t
believe I’ve seen that before.”
Lorenzen’s not surprised by
the success of his childhood buddy, calling him a workhorse. It
took 24 outs before his Fullerton teammates could muster a
single up the middle off Thurman.
“He’s just a good pitcher,” Lorenzen said. “He
hits his spots consistently. He has a really good change – he
knows how to throw it and when to throw it.”
Thurman remembers silencing the Titans and
Dirtbags by locating his pitches well, mixing up and down. And
using his defense.
That philosophy sums up his success.
“I focus on being a pitcher instead of a thrower
and hitting my spots and working down,” Thurman said. “If they
hit it, they hit it. If they don’t, they don’t.”
Thurman was just 2-2 when he faced Fullerton
after getting roughed up by Cal Poly in early April. He went 6-1
the rest of the way, the loss coming in to UC Davis the last
weekend of the year.
“It definitely gave me confidence that I can
pitch with anybody out there,” he said of the Fullerton-Long
Thurman mixes his devastating change with a
fastball, curve and a newly added cut fastball. Although his
fastball, which he said has gained velocity since last year,
runs into the low 90s, Thurman’s been known more as a
pitch-to-contact pitcher than power pitcher. He emulates Nolan
Ryan, not necessarily the power pitcher, but his mentality and
has known the right-hander since he was 15 years old. Thurman,
he said, always has had the ability to throw strikes.
“His command is off the charts,” said Vanderhook,
adding that if you put Thurman in the SEC, you’d see the same
That’s one of the many things Gillespie liked
about Thurman when he was at Orange Lutheran High School.
According to Gillespie, Thurman was consistently throwing
strikes and wasn’t going to require a lot of changes once he
stepped on campus.
“It was pretty clear he was ready to pitch as a
freshman,” Gillespie said.
He went 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA with 23 appearances
and eight starts as a freshman. His season culminated in the
Super Regionals, when he came on after a rain delay and stymied
Virginia long enough for the Anteaters to make a comeback to
force what would be an epic Game 3.
he was in high school, Lorenzen repeatedly was told center field
might not be in the cards.
“A lot of guys said I wasn’t fast enough,” he
Lorenzen recalls being
about 6-3, 175 and running a 6.8 or 6.9. A few short years
later, he’s 6-3, 205 and running a 6.5. Couple that with a
rocket for an arm – reaching the mid-90s when he comes on to
close games as a pitcher – and tremendous power, and the
two-time Team USA performer is expected to go early in this
“He’s a great two-way player,” Thurman said.
“He’s definitely one of the best two-way players in the
Added Vanderhook: “He’s got five tools out there.
From foul pole to foul pole he can hit the ball out of the park
– those are hard guys to find.”
Vanderhook compares him to
former Titan, first-round pick and major leaguer Dante Powell in
running the ball down. He likens him to former Titan Clark
Hardman with his accuracy from center field. He later settles on
former Texas star and current Cleveland Indians outfielder Drew
Gillespie called Lorenzen a professional
centerfielder who can “really, really, really throw.” He likens
him to Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp on defense.
“It’s not a stretch to say these kinds of
things,” Gillespie said.
And what about Lorenzen the pitcher?
“We’ve never had a guy like that on the mound,”
Vanderhook said, adding that former UCLA pitchers Gerrit Cole
and Trevor Bauer – former players of his – threw hard, but that
he hasn’t had a lot of guys “who throw hard like he does.
“There’s only a handful of guys who do everything
in center field,” Vanderhook said. “If all else fails, he can
become Trevor Hoffman, which isn’t a bad career in itself.”
scary part is that Lorenzen is about as carefree on the mound as
can be. He said he simply gets up there and throws – fully
understanding it’s easier to do that when you possess a fastball
that can touch 96. He added that he doesn’t feel any pressure,
and somehow he’s able to hit spots.
“The less they have to use me, the better,” said
Lorenzen, believing that if he’s not on the mound to close, the
Titans have a win in hand.
He also says that because he loves manning center
Lorenzen cherishes batting
practice, not for hitting, but for chasing down fly balls. He
said he works “to be on time” on his jumps and reads on every
pitch he can during BP. He remembers being a freshman and almost
getting too tired before games when he was chasing the shots hit
by his teammates. He tells teammates that BP is one of the best
times of his day.
“I feel like a little kid out there shagging
flies,” Lorenzen said. “It’s kind of like surfing, just waiting
for that perfect fly ball.”
Only Lorenzen doesn’t surf anymore. Sports have
gotten a little more serious, he said.
Lorenzen, who hit .297 with
two homers, 43 RBI and 14 stolen bases and was 2-0 with a 1.23
ERA and 16 saves, was drafted out of Fullerton High School in
the 7th round by Tampa Bay in 2010. He chose to become a Titan.
“My faith is the main reason,” he said, adding
that his family had a signing bonus in mind but that it was
God’s will for him to go to college to mature and grow
Faith has played a big role for Lorenzen. In high
school, Lorenzen admits he was hanging with the wrong crowd and
that he couldn’t wait to be a troublemaker.
He gave his life to Christ during his junior year
in high school.
On May 17, dozens of Major League scouts likely
will be in Fullerton to see Andrew Thurman face off against
Michael Lorenzen and the Titans in a game shown nationally on
Thurman, who’s studying political science and
history and shoots in the upper 70s or low 80s on the golf
course, will be the one pounding the zone, working efficiently
and quietly piling up outs. Armed with confidence from last
season as well as a successful summer in the Cape Cod Baseball
League, he’s only getting better.
Lorenzen, a kinesiology
major who’s as happy at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes
meeting as on the field, will be the one racing down an aspiring
double to the gap, firing a laser to the plate and showcasing
seemingly unlimited power. Believing he finally feels like he
properly knows how to swing a bat, he’s only getting better.
A friendship and mutual admiration that started
when they were eight playing on the Bandits will be put on hold,
at least for a few at-bats that night.
When it’s over, maybe they’ll reminisce about
“We didn’t win very many games,” Lorenzen said
with a laugh. “We weren’t the best team, but we battled.”
Or maybe they’ll just talk about the future. And
the possibility of playing together again someday.
(Lorenzen photos by Matt Brown/mattbrownphoto.com,
Thurman photos courtesy of UC Irvine Athletics)