Opinion | Three rising sophomores that will make a leap next year for the Hawkeye baseball team

Keaton Anthony, Brody Brecht, and Sam Petersen could make huge improvements from year one to year two.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa left fielder Sam Petersen celebrates a home run during a baseball game between Iowa and Central Michigan at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Friday, March 25, 2022. Petersen drove in three runs. The Hawkeyes defeated the Chippewas, 7-4.

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter

After a season in which Iowa came close to a college baseball regional berth yet again, the next thing to do is to look ahead.

Iowa was one of the youngest teams in all of college baseball in 2022 as 32 of the 41 players on the roster had two or more years of eligibility remaining.

What does that mean?

It means the Hawkeyes are in a position to have a lot of returning athletes for the 2023 season — athletes that have seen the college field before.

One of the flaws about this past season’s Hawkeye team was that they didn’t have enough go-to guys — a guy who was consistent all season long and was there when the team needed it most. A guy who could carry the load.

Sure, they had Peyton Williams and Michael Seegers to lead the charge, but inconsistencies at the end of the season hurt them.

I think three potential rising sophomores could be in line to be that go-to guy in 2023.

Keaton Anthony

Yes, I know. Technically, Anthony was a redshirt freshman last season. But since he only played one game in his 2021 true freshman season, I’m giving him the nod.

What more do you want out of a freshman? Anthony was a college baseball freshman All-American. His final numbers for his first full season for the Hawkeyes were phenomenal. Offensively, he hit for a team-leading .361 average with an on-base percentage of .455 and a .678 slugging percentage. He was the anchor of the Iowa batting order.

Anthony has a great chance to become one of Iowa’s best players next year because he was one last year, too. Considering he played nearly every day as a redshirt freshman, he is a strong choice to be Iowa’s best sophomore next season.

Brody Brecht

There was a lot of buzz when Brecht — a multi-sport athlete who is also a wide receiver for the football team — decided to come to the University of Iowa in 2021.

The Ankeny, Iowa, native decided to come play baseball and football at Iowa instead of possibly declaring for the MLB Draft. Brecht was the number 77 overall prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft.

The hard-throwing righty was one of the scariest pitchers to come out of the Iowa bullpen. He consistently threw his fastball around 98 or 99 miles per hour and had a dirty breaking ball that left batters guessing. Brecht had 44 strikeouts in 22 ⅔  innings pitched for Iowa in his first season.

The one thing Brecht had problems with was command. Brecht struggled to find the strike zone, especially early in the season.

The freshman walked 25 batters this season, averaging more than one free pass per inning pitched.

If the upcoming sophomore can control his high-octane fastball more next season, he will be a threat out of the bullpen and could be a potential lockdown closer for the Hawkeyes.

Sam Petersen

The outfielder out of Huxley, Iowa, was a pleasant surprise for the Hawkeyes last season. Petersen played most of the season at left field for Iowa as all but five of his 38 starts came there. He patrolled center field in his other starts.

Petersen hit for a solid .264 batting average last season with a .795 OPS, 33 RBIs, and six home runs in his freshman year. With a little more consistent playing time and a full offseason to improve, we could see Petersen make a big leap next year.

We have already seen flashes of speed and power. Now it’s time for a full season of that.