2012 UW Baseball Preview, Part III: Outfielders
Feb. 10, 2012
The 2012 college baseball season is right around the corner as teams across the nation begin playing a week from today, on Friday, Feb. 17.
The Huskies, under third-year head coach Lindsay Meggs, open the campaign with a three-game series at San Diego State Feb. 17-19. The following Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Dawgs open the home slate with a game against Seattle University at Husky Ballpark.
The first weekend home series for the UW is March 2-4 vs. St. Joseph's, and Pac-12 Conference play begins with a three-game set vs. Oregon at Husky Ballpark March 16-18.
Over the past week, gohuskies.com has been taking a look at the 2012 edition of the Diamond Dawgs. In part one, we looked at the pitchers. The second installment ran down the catchers and infielder. Here in part three, we'll go over the Husky outfielders and wrap up the preview.
2012 Husky Outfielders (alphabetical order):
For a team with such a youthful roster, the Husky outfielders for 2012 are a surprisingly well-seasoned group. In fact, of the players above, five of six are juniors or seniors and the other is a sophomore. However, three of those outfielders are junior college transfers who are new to the UW program.
As always at the start of the season, there will be some mixing and matching and a number of players will likely get their chance.
The two main contenders in center field are senior Caleb Brown and junior Jayce Ray. Brown missed much of last season due to injury, but was an everyday starter at the UW in 2010. Ray comes to Washington from Santa Rose Junior College.
"We brought Jayce as a left-handed hitter and a good runner," Coach Meggs says. "He is a leadoff candidate for us. He is battling in center field with Caleb, who has been injured so much of the time he has been here. He is almost back to full strength and shows signs to be able to go get the ball like he was once able to in his life.
"Jayce is a little ahead of him right now because he can compete every day," Meggs continues. "Caleb and Jayce will both play, but if we opened the season tomorrow Jayce would be our center fielder."
The primary candidates in right field are a pair of JC-transfer newcomers: Mac Acker and Michael Camporeale. Acker, who is also very much in the hunt for a spot in the starting pitching rotation, was the Northwest junior college player of the year last season as both a pitcher and outfielder. Meanwhile, Camporeale was his conference's MVP and earned All-America at Cuesta College in central California in 2011.
"In right field we have a good battle going on," Meggs explains. "Acker is someone who the coaches are pushing me to give an opportunity to play out there as he did last year at Colombia Basin.
"Michael Camporeale is a right-handed hitter," Meggs continues. "He's very steady, physical and an above-average runner. He can throw and right now would be penciled in in right field with Mac, depending on how we want to use him."
Joe Meggs is the only true returning starter in the outfield. Last year, the younger Meggs led the Huskies in hitting and, after missing the start of the season due to injury, was the everyday starter in left field all year.
"In left, Joe is back coming off a pretty steady year and will likely get the nod," says Coach Meggs.
The youngest member of the bunch is sophomore Will Sparks, who played in 28 games, starting nine, last year. Much of his action came in the latter part of the season. He could easily play in either left or right field.
"Sparks is pushing all corner outfielders and getting better every day," Meggs says. "He is physical, can come in and play defense at either spot and can come in and face a left handed pitcher and not give you any issues as far as quality at bats."
In addition to those six, there are other players on the roster who have played the outfield in the past for the UW, including Chase Anselment and Ryan Wiggins (both are primarily catchers). Freshman catcher Parker Guinn could also play the outfield.
Washington's 2012 roster is full of new faces. Of the 35 players, 20 are entirely new to the program. However, nearly all of those 15 returners have been key players prior to this season, which means that in general, the team isn't lacking in experience.
As is the case with most programs in most seasons, the Huskies will enter the season with questions as to how things might shake out in the batting order, starting rotation and bullpen. The early season will provide Coach Meggs with the chance to arrange the puzzle pieces while getting ready for the always-competitive Pac-12 slate. He has reason for optimism.
"We have all been very impressed as a staff with how well they get along, how excited they are to be here, how hard they work," Meggs says of the 2012 Dawgs. "There have been no issues off the field or in the class room. I think everyone is here for the right reasons. There is an excitement about how no one expects anything from us, within the conference, nationwide. Our guys have the attitude of 'let's shock the world and prove that we can really play baseball.' "