Today we’ll take a look at some of the options in the infield in the first of a three part series on GT baseball.
First Base – Thomas Smith returns after moving to first base last season. Smith played first base last season after playing his first two years at second base. But, Smith may very well end up getting moved as he did return to second base in the fall while Coach Hall took a look at some other players at the position. One of those players is freshman Kel Johnson. His play in the fall showed why he may become one of the better hitters recruited by GT in recent years. Johnson was one of the leaders on the team in hitting and home runs in the fall. Other players that will get a look include senior A.J. Murray has played first but we expect him to be used mostly as a DH or a backup catcher. Murray was one of the top hitters in the Cape this past summer. Still, Smith may very well be the starter at first base on opening day with both Johnson and Murray starting elsewhere.
Second Base – The aforementioned Smith saw time at second base in the fall but the starting job may very well go to freshman Wade Bailey. Bailey was one of the surprises in the fall as he both hit and fielded his position well. Coach Hall had nothing but high praise for the athleticism of Bailey. Whether the starter is Bailey or Smith, GT should be in good shape and they should continue the great fielding in the middle that we saw last season when Mott Hyde manned the position.
Shortstop – Sophomore Connor Justus returns as the starter. The slick fielding shortstop also made significant contributions with the bat. Justus may be one of the better fielding shortstops in the ACC. Coach Hall also experimented with returning sophomore third baseman Brandon Gold at short in the fall but we may only see him there if injuries warrant that move. Bailey can also play short and would be an option if Justus is in a slump or is injured.
Third Base – The 2015 team will be as deep at third as I can remember since covering the team. Gold returns as the starter and was a big reason why GT was one of the better fielding teams in college baseball last season. Gold has good range and a strong arm. Another option for Coach Hall is returning left field starter Matt Gonzalez. He was one of the leading hitters on the team and helped GT set a record for outfield assists. The third option is highly recruited freshman Blake Jackson. We could also see Jackson get some swings as a DH. Third will be a position to watch with Gold possibly being used as a pitcher and Gonzalez could return to left depending on what Coach Hall decides to do in the outfield. Whatever the move, third base should be a position of strength for GT.
Next up will be the outfield.