Jan. 21, 2010
The Washington baseball team is less than two weeks away from taking the field for the first practice of the spring on Feb. 1. Two and a half weeks after that, the Diamond Dawgs will square off against New Mexico State at a tournament in Tucson on Feb. 19 in the season opener.
Here's the first look at the 2010 UW team, as GoHuskies.com runs through the squad, position by position. In the first installment, first-year coach Lindsay Meggs focused on the catchers and infielders. In this edition, he takes a look at the outfielders. Next week will feature a look at the pitching staff and a full review.
2010 Husky Baseball Preview: Outfielders
Based on 2009 stats, the Washington baseball team suffered probably its most obvious loss in the outfield as three-year starter Kyle Conley, who finished tied for the UW career home runs record, and veteran senior Jake Rife both went on to the professional ranks.
But despite the fact that those two started 105 out of a possible 110 times last year, there's a surprisingly good deal of returning experience in 2010.
Junior Brendan Gardner-Young started 44 games in left or center field last year, while sophomore Caleb Brown started 31 in center in his first season at the UW. Additionally, redshirt sophomore Sean Meehan, who sat out last season due to injury, returns. He showed tremendous promise as a freshman in 2008, when he batted .323.
While the competition for playing time and starting spots is always open to change, heading into the spring practice, those three would be the top candidates for the three starting spots in the outfield, with Meehan in right, Brown in center and Gardner-Young in left.
"Meehan is above average in almost every tool," Meggs said. "He's a plus arm guy, has plus power and is a more than average defender in right field. I think we're trying to create an environment where he'll be consistent in all three of those areas. That's the big challenge. If he can do that, he'll play every day for us and he'll play at the next level without question."
Brown, who batted a solid .279 in 111 at bats last year, is the top choice in center field.
"Caleb has all the tools that you look for in a center fielder," said Meggs. "He can run, has plus power for a guy who can run, but he's raw. He was more of a football player out of high school who's been trying to learn this game on the job. He's someone who needs to play, but he's got some tools that most guys just don't have."
"G-Y has got a veteran presence about him," Meggs said of Gardner-Young. "He's probably our best candidate to leadoff. He understands the bunting game and can hit with two strikes. He's a team guy. He's a good baserunner. Against right-handed pitching, he'll potentially play every day for us."
There's plenty of talent and potential backing up those three as well.
The veteran of that bunch is junior Julien Pollard, who has seen playing time in left field, third base and second base in his Husky career. However, since the end of last season, he's been recovering from injury and enters the opening of practice still working to get back to 100 percent.
When he is back to full strength, he provides versatility, not only in his ability to play multiple positions, but due to the fact that he's a switch hitter.
Three left-handed hitting true freshmen round out the outfield roster. Chase Anselment, who is primarily a catcher who could also DH, is in the mix in left field while Andy Smith can play center and left and Brian Wolfe profiles as a right fielder.
"Smith can come off the bench and steal a base or get a bunt down and can play late-inning defense," explained Meggs. "Wolfe is going to be a talented left-handed hitter. He's a legitimate right fielder with a plus arm."