In the third University of Louisville post in the “offseason position battle series” we will look at the vacant third base position:
The departed — Second team All-Big East Conference third baseman Phil Wunderlich started 52 games at the hot corner for UofL in 2010, batting .355 with 21 home runs, 62 RBI and 54 runs scored. Wunderlich led the team in home runs (21), total bases (177) and slugging percentage (.691). The slugger added 12 stolen bases for good measure before moving on to professional baseball as the 12th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2010 MLB draft. Wunderlich started all 64 games for UofL in 2010 with seven starts coming at first base and five in left field. Wunderlich was named a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American.
Returning candidates — Sophomore Cade Stallings received each of UofL’s 12 starts at third base that didn’t go to Wunderlich in 2010, batting .257 with four home runs, 24 RBI and eight runs scored. Stallings started each of the Cards’ five fall Pizza Bowl series games at first base but did move to the hot corner late in one game…During the fall Pizza Bowl sophomore Kyle Grieshaber started each of the five games at third base, going 5-18 in the series. Grieshaber batted .239 in 58 games for the Cards in 2010, including 38 starts at designated hitter and in the outfield. Grieshaber scored 24 runs in 2010 and stole seven bases in seven attempts. During the fall Pizza Bowl Grieshaber batted in the leadoff spot for his team in four of the five games.
Newcomers to watch — Freshman Ryan Seiz started each of the five fall Pizza Bowl series games for the “Xan’s Zephyrs” team at third base. In the series, Seiz was 5-20 with two runs scored, three RBI and a walk. Seiz was named an Under Armour Preseason All-American as a senior at Christopher Dock High School in Perkasie, Pa. He batted .575 with five home runs, 36 RBI, 47 runs scored and 19 stolen bases as a senior in high school…Freshman Brandon Alphin is listed as a RHP/3B on the UofL roster but did not appear in any games in the field during the fall Pizza Bowl.
Wildcard — Freshman infielders Adam Engel, Ty Young and Alex Chittenden each started every game of the fall Pizza Bowl at either second base or shortstop. Second base is clearly occupied by preseason All-American Ryan Wright, so Engel, who started five games at second opposite Wright during the series and is listed as an infielder on the roster, could conceivably see some time at third during the season. The loser of the shortstop race between Young and Chittenden might be able to move to the hot corner, but both are listed as pure shortstops on the roster. In a recent interview with College Baseball Daily, dead coach Dan McDonnell listed Grieshaber, Stallings and Zak Wasserman as hitters who would be counted on to provide a middle of the lineup presence in 2011, so all three should find in the field in some combination at first base, third base, designated hitter and outfield.