Offseason position battle: EKU catcher

College Baseball

In the third Eastern Kentucky University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant catching position.

The departed — Two-year starter Joey Stevens, a 2010 senior, started 42 games for the Colonels in 2010. On the season he batted .276 with two home runs, 24 RBI and 19 runs scored. Stevens recorded a .335 on-base percentage and .368 slugging percentage. Opposing runners were successful in 35 of 43 stolen base attempts (86 percent) against Stevens on the season. Stevens was charged with six passed balls and two errors in 2010.

Returning candidates — Junior A. J. Jamison served as Stevens’ primary backup in 2010, starting seven games and appearing in 19 games total. Jamison batted .208 with one home run, six RBI and four runs scored on the season. Opposing runners were successful in all eight stolen base attempts against Jamison last season…Junior Brian Shrimpton also saw some time behind the plate for EKU in 2010, especially early in the season. Shrimpton started six games and appeared in 11 total. On the season he was 1-22 (.045), and opposing runners were successful in 19 of 21 stolen base attempts (91.3 percent) against him.

Newcomers to watch — EKU added two catchers to the 2011 roster in the form of freshmen Sean Hagen and Steve Ferraro. In a news release announcing Hagen’s signing EKU head coach Jason Stein described him as a “complete catcher who can catch, throw and block,” adding he was a very offensive-minded player, as well.” As a junior at Reading High School in Pennsylvania, Hagen batted .469 with six home runs and 29 RBI. Stein said Hagen would fill an immediate need at catcher with Stevens’ graduation.

Wildcard — With four catchers on the Colonels’ roster any wildcard in this race would have to come from nowhere. EKU has nine infielders on the roster so if an unlikely position change were to occur that would likely be the first place to look.

Offseason position battle: EKU first baseman

College Baseball

We continue our second lap in the “offseason position battle” series with a look at the vacant Eastern Kentucky University first base position.

The departed — Senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando batted .335 with 17 home runs, 67 RBI and 47 runs score while starting 54 games for EKU in 2010. Ottrando led the team in home runs, RBI and doubles (15). For good measure he added 11 stolen bases in 13 attempts. Ottrando made seven erros on the season while posting a .986 fielding percentage. The slugger was honored as the second team All-OVC first baseman following the 2010 season. Ottrando started all but one game at first for EKU in 2010 with the other start going to freshman Kyle England, who is not listed on the current EKU roster. In August Ed Richter of the Middletown Journal in Ohio reported England and one other man had been indicted on charges of sexual battery after a 16-year-old girl accused them of assaulting her during a party at England’s home.

Returning candidates — The only returning Colonel to appear in a game at first base in 2010 is junior Dustin Dunlop who played one game at the position. Dunlop spent most his time playing second base for the Colonels in 2010 and also appeared at third base during his freshman and sophomore years…Junior Jacob Daniel has served as the EKU designated hitter for the last two seasons but could conceivably move to first base if needed…Sophomore infielder Alex Hughes didn’t appear in a game during 2010 for EKU but at 6-4 he has the size to fill in at first base.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman infielder Mitch Durbin signed with EKU as a corner infielder and left-handed power bat. In Nov. 2009 EKU head coach Jason Stein said “Following graduation and the draft of 2010, we will probably have two immediate needs and, as a left-handed bat with power and a corner infielder, Mitch fills both of them.”…At 6-2 and 6-0 respectively freshman infielders Alex Arovits and Dillon Pelfrey both also could fill in at first base.

Wildcard — The only wildcard in the EKU first base battle appears to be a position change from one of the catchers or outfielders. Senior outfielder Bryce Labhart is listed as an OF/INF on the roster but played left field primarily in 2010 and came to EKU from Onley Central Junior College as a second baseman/outfielder. Sophomore outfielders Michael Buschmann and Jeff Emerich are likely reserves. Juniors A. J. Jamison and Brian Shrimpton are the returning catchers on the roster.