Of late, the University of Connecticut, under head coach Jim Penders and his staff, has become something of an overlooked pitching factory.
You can go back to 2011 and find first-round pick Matt Barnes, a workhorse who was part of that outstanding 2011 UConn team that also featured George Springer. Barnes is now a mainstay as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
In 2014 and 2015, Carson Cross was drafted, and while he wasn’t drafted in a round nearly as low as Barnes, he was just about every bit as effective while in a Huskies uniform, going 22-7 with a 2.20 ERA over 254 innings pitched.
Then there was Anthony Kay, who was a first-round draft pick of the Mets in this most recent MLB Draft after going 22-12 with a 2.64 ERA at UConn.
It looks for all the world like Tim Cate will be the next in line.
As a freshman a season ago, Cate went 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 appearances, 13 of which were starts. In 82.1 innings, he struck out 101 and walked 27 with a .186 opponent batting average. That effort earned him Freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger and his place as the American Athletic Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Year.
Then, Cate spent the summer as a member of Collegiate Team USA, where he was effective in a small sample with the club, and after which, D1Baseball.com’s Aaron Fitt named him the 15th-best prospect on Team USA.
With Kay gone, Cate will certainly be asked to step into a bigger role in the UConn starting rotation as the team’s ace, although he won’t be alone. Also returning will be Will Montgomerie, who went 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 74 innings of work and then spent his summer pitching on the Cape for Yarmouth-Dennis.
Those two, led by the dynamic lefty Cate, will be a one-two punch to be reckoned with in the spring.