Feb. 7, 2013
SEATTLE - The 2013 college baseball season is just a week and a day from getting started. The Huskies, under fourth-year head coach Lindsay Meggs, will be striving to reach the postseason, which would mean making another step forward from last year's 30-25 finish.
Over the next week, we'll have a look at the 2013 team, broken into three parts. The first of those three focuses on Washington's catchers and infielders. Here's the story on them:
Mark Chen, RS-Fr., R/R
Parker Guinn, So., R/R
Duncan Hendrickson, Fr., R/R
Josh Latta, Fr., R/R
Austin Rei, Fr., R/R
Ryan Wiggins, Jr., R/R
A career .294 hitter with 43 college starts, Wiggins, who has also seen plenty of playing time as a DH and outfielder, enters the 2013 season as the presumptive starter.
"We have three primary guys. They all do different things," says Coach Meggs. "Ryan Wiggins in the most offensive guy, and if we took the field tomorrow, he would get the nod. He'll hit in the middle of the batting order and has gotten better behind the plate."
Guinn saw action in just three games a year ago, but that's enough to make him the second-most experienced backstop on the roster.
"We bring back Parker Guinn," says Meggs. "He was seldom-used last year. He's potentially the late-inning guy on defense who comes in to run for Wiggins."
Among a group of four freshmen (including one redshirt), the main contender for playing time is Austin Rei.
"Austin is a drafted kid out of Northern California," explains Meggs. "He's the most talented guy of the bunch, but the most inexperienced. Before it's all over, he'll either make those other guys better or he'll win the job."
Fellow true freshman Duncan Hendrickson will likely see action at designated hitter, first base and left field this season, but is also among the depth at catcher along with redshirt freshman Josh Latta.
Ty Afenir, Sr., R/R
Branden Berry, So., R/R
Josh Cushing, Fr., R/R
Andrew Ely, So., L/R
Erik Forgione, So., S/R
Matt Jackson, So., R/R
Trevor Mitsui, So., R/R
Robert Pehl, So., R/R
Alex Schmidt, So., L/R
Three quarters of the Husky infield will be manned by veteran players and, up the middle, the UW is two-deep with experienced talent at both spots.
The depth at first base was hurt when sophomore Branden Berry, who split time as the starter there last season, was lost for the season with an injury. However, the player he split time with last season, fellow soph Trevor Mitsui, returns.
"Trevor will start at first base," Meggs declares. "He's an experienced RBI guy who finished last season over .300 and he'll hit in the middle of the batting order. Without Branden in the middle of the order, Trevor becomes even more important in terms of driving in runs. If we're going to improve on last season's scoring, he's going to have to have a big year for us."
At second base, the Dawgs have another sophomore returning starter in Robert Pehl, who batted .293 in 50 starts last season and then went on to a terrific summer season in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .329 and was third in the league in runs batted in.
"Robert can play at second base or DH, either way he's going to hit in the three hole," says Meggs. "I think he's our best answer to a consistent, legitimate Pac-12 middle-of-the-order kind of guy. He's pretty accomplished."
If Pehl is the DH on a given day, yet another sophomore would start at second: Andrew Ely. Ely played in 38 games as a freshman, starting eight, and could play any of the three infield spots outside of first base.
"Andrew could play second on a regular basis," says Meggs. "He could play all three spots actually. He hits left-handed and gets good at bats. He doesn't have Robert's juice, but he's a better defensive player."
The Dawgs are also two deep at shortstop where senior Ty Afenir and sophomore Erik Forgione will continue their battle for playing time from last year. In 2012, Afenir started 28 games at shortstop while Forgione started 27.
"Afenir has really played well. Defensively, he's been off the charts since we came back from Christmas," says Meggs. "Erik's a little more athletic. That's going to be a battle all year."
The newcomer to the Huskies' starting infield is sophomore JC transfer Alex Schmidt, who will start at third base.
"Alex has won that job," states Meggs. "He will start. He bats left-handed. He could hit anywhere from third to seventh in the batting order."
Freshman Josh Cushing, a classmate of Rei at Campolindo High last year, provides additional depth at second, third and short and, as Meggs puts it, will "push Alex and push for at bats off the bench."
Finally, Matt Jackson, who played in 24 games and started two as a freshman in 2012, will miss the season after suffering an injury early in last fall's practice season.
On Saturday, Feb. 9, we'll preview the Husky outfielders and then close out the season preview with a look at the pitchers on Monday, Feb. 11. The Diamond Dawgs get the 2013 season underway next Friday, Feb. 15, when they start a four-game, three-day series at UC Davis.