In the fourth University of Kentucky post in out “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.
The departed — Center fielder Keenan Wiley started all 56 games for UK in 2010, batting .324 with four home runs, 37 RBI, 40 runs scored and 14 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Wiley signed a non-drafted free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves following the season. The Richmond native also provided a steady hand on defense, committing just one error on the season…Outfielder and first baseman Lance Ray did not see much playing time early in the season but worked his way into the everyday lineup with much of his playing time coming in right field. Ray was UK’s best hitter by the end of the season, finishing the year with a .356 batting average, 10 home runs, 34 RBI and 29 runs scored…Utility man Gunner Glad, a 2010 senior, saw extended playing time in the outfield in 2010…Outfielder Cory Farris, a 2010 sophomore, is not listed on the 2011 UK roster.
Returning candidates — Junior outfielder Chad Wright returns to anchor the UK outfield after spending each of his first two seasons at UK as an everyday starter at the corner outfield positions. Wright, who was named a Cape Cod League all-star this summer, could move to center field after Wiley’s graduation…Sophomore Brian Adams started the final eight games of the season in left field, batting .483 with three doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBI. Adams, a wide receiver on the football team, suffered a hamstring injury toward the end of football season but that injury is not expected to affect his baseball availability…Sophomore outfielder and pitcher Sam Kidd appeared in 10 games as a freshman, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Newcomers to watch — Lexington Christian Academy alum Lucas Witt comes to UK after being named first-team all state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior. In a recent interview with College Baseball Daily UK head coach Gary Henderson singled Witt out as a freshman outfielder who had performed well enough during fall practice to earn early playing time. Witt recorded hits in two of the three Fall World Series games…UK also lists freshman outfielders Damon Sanders, Steven Hoagland, and Ryan Mossakowski on the roster.
Wildcard — Senior left-handed pitcher Mike Kaczmarek has only appeared on the mound during his three-year UK career but began the transition to becoming a two-way player during the fall. Kaczmarek will appear in the outfield for UK some this season, and after experiencing moderate success with the bat during fall practice could push for regular playing time. Henderson could also try freshman infielder Dallen Reber in the outfield if needed.
This post has been updated after UK released its 2011 roster without outfielder Cory Farris, Gavin Patton and Navarro Hall on it.