Dickinson wants to help UVA pitchers unlock potential

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The Virginia baseball team began last season with sophomore Griff McGarry and first-year Mike Vasil in the weekend pitching rotation. On opening day, the two right-handers had combined to pitch just 17 2/3 innings at the college level.

"In college baseball, experience is everything," McGarry said. "Being able to be on the weekend last year gave me some good exposure to not only ACC play, but just being in a bigger role."

"Last year was, I would say, the biggest learning experience of my life for baseball. Period," said Vasil. "I didn't know what to expect during ACC games, midweek games, whatever. On the road, how we prepare. Me knowing what's coming is a huge thing for me."

Vasil and McGarry combined to make 26 appearances, including 23 starts -- but the duo labored for much of the season. In 111 innings, they combined for a 5-11 record and a 5.43 ERA, with 76 walks.

"I look at their numbers and I'm like, they've underachieved a little bit," new UVA pitching coach Drew Dickinson said. "But that's okay."

Dickinson took over for longtime UVA pitching coach Karl Kuhn -- now the head coach at Radford -- this fall. He has worked with McGarry on slowing down his delivery, and with Vasil on staying consistent with his pitching motion.

"I think a lot of it is just mentality, to be honest with you," Dickinson said. "I don't think it's a stuff thing. I think it's about how they go about their daily business."

"Drew's really, really good at talking to our guys about attacking the strike zone, attacking hitters," Vasil said.

"He's definitely a players' coach," said McGarry. "He likes to talk around with the guys, mess around with the guys. He seems like he's developing good relationships with everybody."

McGarry turned down a chance to sign with the Texas Rangers out of high school in 2017. A year later, Vasil was projected as a potential first-round pick, but withdrew his name from the MLB Draft to pitch at UVA.

Dickinson says he can see why the two pitchers were so highly regarded coming out of high school when watching video from last season. He also says he's encouraged by the steps he has seen both take this fall to fully unlock that potential.

"In my mind they have the potential to front-line starters for us. And really we need them to be that," Dickinson said. "I love how they compete. I don't want to short-change their potential. I want to see them reach it, and I want to help them reach it."

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