In the sixth University of Louisville post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.
The departed — Texas Rangers draftee Josh Richmond, a 2010 junior, missed most of last season with a wrist injury but batted .262 with one home run, 10 RBI and 17 runs scored in 23 games for the Cards. Richmond, an outfielder who started in each of his 23 appearances, was the Rangers 12th round pick in the 2010 draft…Tampa Bay Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich, a 2010 junior, started five games in left field last season…First baseman and outfielder Mike Morrison, a 2010 sophomore, and outfielder Drew Fitzpatrick, a 2010 freshman, started 12 games in the outfield for the Cards last season but neither is listed on the 2011 UofL roster
Returning candidates — Outfield stalwarts senior Drew Haynes and redshirt junior Stewart Ijames return to UofL after starting 64 and 63 games respectively for the Cards in 2010. Haynes batted .291 with 15 stolen bases and served as the primary center fielder until Richmond returned from injury late in the season. Ijames, the 29th round pick of the New York Yankees, batted .324 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and 64 runs scored in 2010…Sophomore utility man Kyle Grieshaber started 23 games in left field for the Cards in 2010 while serving as Richmond’s primary replacement during his injury. Grieshaber batted .239 with one home run, 15 RBI and 24 runs scored in 53 games last season, but he is the leading candidate for the vacant third base position, after starting each of the five Fall Pizza Bowl Series games there…Sophomore outfielder Jarred Clarkson started two games in left field in 2010 but was just 2-16 in 28 games for the Cards last year.
Newcomers to watch — Freshman Cody Edge started each of the five Pizza Bowl Series games in left field, going 4-12 with two runs scored, two RBI and a walk. Edge will also likely pitch for the Cards in 2011. The two-way player was a three-time all-state selection at Cherokee Washington High School in Iowa and batted .456 with nine home runs, 34 RBI and 32 runs scored as a senior…Freshman outfielder and left-handed pitcher Cole Sturgeon started each of the five Pizza Bowl Series games in centerfield and finished the series 7-17 with two runs scored, five RBI and two walks. Sturgeon was named first-team all state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Owensboro Catholic High School.
Wildcard — Freshman infielders Ryan Seiz and Adam Engel both have the ability to play outfield but started each Pizza Bowl Series game at third base and second base respectively. Each of those positions is likely to be manned by a veteran when the Cards begin the 2011 season so head coach Dan McDonnell could elect to player either newcomer in the outfield to get some playing time. The vacant outfield position will also be heavily effect by the corner infield battles as McDonnell is likely to make sure sophomores Grieshaber, Zak Wasserman and Cade Stallings are each in the lineup in some combination at first base, third base, outfield and designated hitter.