The Nebraska baseball program has not signed many second-semester players. In recent years, the best mid-season addition was Jamal Strong, who started for two years before he was drafted in the sixth round by the Seattle Mariners. Strong is currently on their 40-man roster and has a strong chance to make the opening-day roster.
This year, the Husker coaching staff welcomes junior college transfer Pat O?Neil into the fold, and Husker Pitching Coach Rob Childress said that the left-hander is expected to make an immediate impact at NU this spring.
"Traditionally, we haven?t brought in many players at the semester unless we thought they would be able to make a major contribution," Childress said. "When we scouted Pat during the spring and summer, we knew he was someone who could make a difference on our staff at the start of the semester."
Despite missing all of the fall, Childress believes that O?Neil, who was a starter for two years at Garden City Community College, could be very effective in a short relief role.
"He is a very competitive kid who may have the best velocity of any left-hander we have on the staff," Childress. "He throws in the upper 80s and lower 90s and has a very good slider."
Last summer, O?Neil pitched for the Rochester (Minn.) Honkers in the Northwoods League, going 2-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 18 appearances, including 16 starts. He struck out 55 in 50 innings, while topping Rochester with a pair of complete games.
O?Neil comes to Nebraska from Garden City Community College, where he pitched for coach Todd Briggs for two seasons. In 2002, the southpaw was the ace of the Broncbusters staff, compiling a 4-6 record with a 4.96 ERA to garner honorable-mention Jayhawk League West honors. He made 15 starts, allowing 53 earned runs on 77 hits in 74.2 innings. He averaged over a strikeout per inning, whiffing 78 while walking 59 hitters on the year. As a freshman, he went 6-3 with a 5.63 ERA. A native of Littleton, Colo., O?Neil attended Heritage High School, where he lettered for four seasons for coach Scott Barr.