This article will be updated to include developing information regarding the Michigan baseball team’s transfer news. Updates will be added below the existing article alongside the time they are made.
With the Michigan baseball team’s season over and Michigan coach Erik Bakich headed to Clemson, multiple players have left the program to play at other schools.
As of June 21, five players — junior catcher Jimmy Obertop, senior shortstop and captain Riley Bertram, senior right-hander Willie Weiss, sophomore infielder Brandon Lawrence and freshman left-hander Jaylen Jones — have already entered the transfer portal.
The first player to enter the transfer portal was Obertop, first reported by Brandon Justice on June 20.
Obertop was one of only four players to start all 62 games for the Wolverines and played a major role in their postseason run. He slashed .278/.387/.504 over the course of the season, hitting the second-most home runs and drawing the second-most walks of any Michigan player. Obertop blasted six home runs in nine games throughout the Big Ten Tournament and Louisville Regional. His efforts led to All-Big-Ten Tournament team and All-NCAA Louisville Regional honors at the catcher position.
The possible departure of Obertop would leave a gaping hole at catcher next year. Unless senior catcher Casey Buckley stays one more year and sees tremendous improvement or a new face rises to the challenge, the Wolverines could have a significant downgrade in 2023.
On Tuesday, another four players announced their entrance into the transfer portal.
The most significant piece from the 2022 roster leaving is Bertram. He also started all 62 games, finishing with a slash line of .298/.421/.791 and leading the team in doubles. Bertram announced that he would follow former Michigan coach Erik Bakich to Clemson for his fifth year on the same day that he entered the portal. While he is the first Wolverine to decide to take his talents to South Carolina, it is uncertain if he will be the last.
Weiss, Lawrence and Jones also announced transfers on Tuesday.
Lawrence was one of the few players to both hit and pitch for Michigan, including scoreless seventh and eighth innings in the Big Ten Championship game against Rutgers. In their worst pitching season in decades, the last thing the Wolverines needed was to lose hurlers.
That problem only deepened with the transfer of Weiss, who followed Bakich and Bertram to Clemson. He showed a lot of promise in the season’s final weeks until he was ejected and suspended for using a foreign substance. Jones also had a lot of room to grow from his fast-pitching freshman form. Who will step up to replace those bullpen assets remains to be seen.
Update June 22: Two more arms entered the portal on Wednesday in sophomore right-hander Ahmad Harajli and senior left-hander Jack White. While neither played huge roles for Michigan in 2022, pitching a combined 16 innings, a lack of depth in the bullpen was already one of the biggest problems for the Wolverines. A total of four pitchers have already entered the portal, only heightening the uncertainty.
Junior first baseman Jake Marti also entered the transfer portal. Marti took over the starting role late in the season and shined with his top-tier speed, great defense and crafty hitting style. He executed two crucial suicide squeezes in the Big Ten Tournament and scored a run in four of the last six games of the season.
Marti’s transfer marks the third starting fielder to leave Michigan in the last three days, following Obertop and Bertram. Junior right fielder Clark Elliott is likely headed to the MLB Draft and neither graduate center fielder Joe Stewart nor graduate third baseman Matt Frey have remaining eligibility for the 2023 season. The Wolverine’s offense goes into 2023 with lots of uncertainty.
Update August 7: On Tuesday, Obertop withdrew his name from the transfer portal to return to Michigan for his senior season. Arguably the best returning player from the 2022 roster, his decision shows signs of stability and confidence in the new staff. New head coach Tracy Smith kept a massive piece of the lineup for his first season as the Wolverines’ coach.