The country is slowly getting back to normal after months of social distancing and working from home. The world of athletics is also returning steadily and the coaches from Howard College have not stopped recruiting during the pandemic.
This year may have been very different for recruits with no in-person visits and most communication done over the phone or through a Zoom call. That has not kept coaches such as Howard baseball’s Michael Lopez from building up their roster during this uncertain time.
The second year head coach’s latest addition to the Hawks’ 2021 roster is the talented and flame-throwing left-handed pitcher Kris Anglin from Bakersfield, California. The newest addition to the Howard baseball roster was rated as the fifth best left-handed pitcher coming out of California in the 2020 recruiting class and also captured All-State honors during his junior year.
“I’m ready to get to Texas to gel with my new teammates and coaches and I’m just ready to get things going,” Anglin said.
Anglin is a long-haired California Kid who was committed to his hometown Division I program - Cal State Bakersfield - up until last week. With the coronavirus setting up challenges for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) season to be played and also causing the 2020 MLB Draft to be drastically shortened, Anglin decided the best path for him would be to take the junior college route.
If Anglin had chosen and enrolled at Cal State Bakersfield, then he would have had to play three years for the Roadrunners before he would be able to be drafted into MLB. With his decision to now join the Howard Hawks, Anglin will be able to reassess his MLB draft stock following next spring and possibly decide to head to the pros after just one season at the junior college level.
What did Anglin already know, or hear, about his new program?
“What (Lopez) is doing with that program and just what I’ve seen from social media, he’s just sending guys out every single year,” he said. “As long as everyone buys into it, they’ll probably go to the next level.
I’m very excited.”
The expectation from the Howard coaching staff is that Anglin will be an instant contributor on the mound but he will still need to earn that in practice.
“He adds depth and he just made the competition for those four starting spots much better,” Lopez said. “The plan is starting rotation but he will have a big impact for us in whatever role he ends up in.”
Part of the reason Anglin was so interested in joining the Howard program was because of the sheer amount of players the Hawks send to four-year universities. Even after this past shortened season, more than a handful of Hawks have committed to continuing their playing and academic careers at four-year schools.
The lefty has three quality pitches that he throws and now will be under the leadership of an NCAA National Champion which has caused his confidence to grow even more. Anglin currently has a fastball, a curveball, and a slider that he throws regularly. With Lopez coaching him and the competition expected to be stiff for a spot in the starting rotation, Anglin might even work on adding a fourth pitch during his time in Big Spring.
“I haven’t been trying to do too much with trying to change any of my off-speed pitches but I’ve just been trying to get them better and sharper and make them look the same as my fastball coming out of my hand,” Anglin said. “I’ve just been trying to improve them as much as I can during quarantine which is perfect because I’ve got nothing else better to do than mess with little tweaks here and there.”
Anglin will be stepping into a much smaller city than Bakersfield and will not have many outside distractions to keep him from progressing and excelling on the mound. The California native has been spending time in Florida so far this summer to be able to practice and play while restrictions are still keeping players from doing the same in his home state.
“There’s a college league over here, a summer league that’s going to be happening even though through all of this stuff going on,” Anglin said. “I’m over here pretty much just working out and playing in some games, too.”
Anglin finished his high school career with an ERA of 2.83 and struck out almost two batters per each inning during his shortened senior season. The talented and confident lefty will be stepping onto the Howard field for the first time with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove to the rest of his new teammates and coaches.
Does Anglin feel that the laser-focused mentality will help him in the competition for a spot in the starting rotation?
“I’m going to go into the program with the same mindset that I went into this year with which helped me and my teammates a lot,” Anglin said.
The Hawks baseball program added another Division I talent to their future roster and the team is looking stacked with talent for the upcoming season next spring.
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.