Opening Day for College Baseball is finally here. Bulldog fans can finally head out to the Left Field Lounge and enjoy their favorite players in Maroon pinstripes take center stage. But exactly who is going to be doing most of the playing? Today I hope to answer that question. This will likely be my most futile post ever written for our site because John Cohen is the coach of this team. Sticking with the same lineup consistently has never really been his strong suit, but it’s still fun to make predictions. To figure out a lineup, you have to first figure out who is playing where.
I’m starting with the easiest part of the team. We have 4 of our 5 starters (counting catcher) returning from last year’s team. The only starter we lost was our 2nd baseman Brett Pirtle, but John Holland was recruited out of the JUCO ranks specifically to take his place. So this is what the team should look like on the infield.
- Catcher: Gavin Collins
- 1st Base: Wes Rea
- 2nd Base: John Holland
- 3rd Base: Matthew Britton
- Shortstop: Seth Heck
There really isn’t any debate about these guys. The only thing that might change any of this is if Gavin Collins can’t improve on his ability to block pitches in the dirt. That might force Cohen to slot Collins as the DH. I find that scenario highly unlikely.
There’s a lot more uncertainty with the outfield. There will be a lot of shuffling in and out of the lineup to start the year. If Cohen sees some things he doesn’t like from one guy, he will probably try someone else the next game. As long as he has a pretty good idea what he plans to do by SEC play, it shouldn’t be an issue. So here is my best guess at the players who get the MOST playing time.
- Center Field: Jake Vickerson
- Right Field: Michael Smith
- Left Field: Reid Humphreys
I don’t know that Jake Vickerson SHOULD get the most playing time, but I am afraid that he will. He is a player that Cohen is comfortable with and can bunt, so whenever Cohen calls for a sacrifice like he loves to do, he will want a guy out there that can get the bunt down. I hope I am wrong about this. I’d like to see Swinarski get a lot of playing time because I have heard good things about him, but I haven’t read anything that even hints he is on the radar for a starting spot.
That leaves the DH. A bunch of guys, mainly outfielders, will be trying to get their at bats in as the DH. Brent Rooker, Cole Gordon, Luke Reynolds, and Joey Swinarski would all be in the mix. I’m thinking Cohen platoons it.
- Left Handed DH: Cole Gordon
- Right Handed DH: Brent Rooker
So who bats when? Once again, all speculation and it probably won’t stay the same from one game to the next, but here is what it should be based on all that I just said (note: this is my prediction for when Gavin Collins returns)
- Michael Smith
- John Holland
- Wes Rea
- Reid Humphreys
- Gavin Collins
- Cole Gordon or Brent Rooker
- Seth Heck
- Matthew Britton
- Jake Vickerson
We’ll see how close I am.
Now for the most important part of the team, the pitching. First the midweek guys. We usually don’t play more than two midweek games, so I expect these two guys to get most of the starts then.
- Austin Sexton
- Dakota Hudson
Hudson has been working on a new delivery, and if he can’t get it worked out, he might not be here. I hope he can because he has some of the best “stuff” on the team.
The weekend rotation is virtually set with who will be there, it’s just a matter of when they pitch.
- Friday Starter: Preston Brown
- Saturday Starter: Lucas Laster
- Sunday Starter: Ross Mitchell
Preston Brown was having a phenomenal season in 2014 before he suffered an injury. After the injury, Brown struggled to find any consistency with his location or velocity. Based off of the limited action we have seen from him in the scrimmages, those issues seem to be fixed. Mitchell was always solid in the Saturday role, so I don’t forsee Cohen moving him any further up. If Cohen can, he will move Mitchell back to the bullpen. Laster made a strong push at the end of 2014. Laster may be the most talented pitcher of the three.
If I am lucky, Cohen will use this lineup at least once this season.