SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly begins practice Friday afternoon for the 2012 baseball season with a roster that includes 14 newcomers, four redshirts and 16 returning letter winners.
Five of the 16 veterans were position starters a year ago and only three pitched 20 or more innings in 2011.
"This year's squad is very team-oriented with a great work ethic," said 10th-year Mustang head coach Larry Lee, 273-233-2 in his previous nine years at the helm of the Mustangs, "and has continued to create a great culture within the baseball program.
"There's a definite possibility that all three facets of the game -- pitching, offense and defense -- can be solid," Lee added, "and we need to be solid in all three in order to compete against the non-conference and Big West opponents on this year's schedule."
The Mustangs have conducted 4-on-1 drills since the start of Winter Quarter on Jan. 3, but will hold their first full-team practice Friday in preparation for the 2012 season opener Feb. 17 against Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. in Baggett Stadium.
The returning position starters include senior shortstop Mike Miller (.306, 23 RBI, seven steals in 2011), junior second baseman Denver Chavez (.277, 13 RBI, 17 sacrifice bunts) and junior outfielder Mitch Haniger (.274, six home runs, 27 RBI), the 2010 Big West Conference Freshman Player of the Year.
The others are junior infielder Evan Busby (.223, 14 sacrifice bunts) and sophomore Jimmy Allen (.261, 15 RBI), who will move from the outfield to third base this spring.
The pitching staff is headed by veterans Joey Wagman (4-3, 3.62 ERA), Chase Johnson (2-5, 3.67 ERA), both right-handers, and Kyle Anderson (3-5, 4.26 ERA), a southpaw. Wagman is expected to be the Friday night starter while Anderson is slated as the midweek starter.
True freshman Matt Imhof, a southpaw from Mission San Jose High School, is the likely Saturday starter while Kyle Brueggemann, a junior right-hander from College of Sequoias, will start on Sundays. Brueggemann pitched as a freshman at Army.
Junior right-hander Nick Grim, a 14th-round draft choice of the Florida Marlins last June and a transfer from Monterey Peninsula College, will be the closer.
"I like our young arms on the mound and, the quicker they can get their feet wet and compete at this level, the better chances we have," said Lee, "For the most part, the majority of this staff will be back the following season as well."
Cal Poly will play 29 of its 56 games at home this season, including non-conference series against Oklahoma State, Washington and San Diego State and Big West series against UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Pacific and UC Santa Barbara.
The Mustangs play their annual Alumni Game on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m. in Baggett Stadium.