2008 GoJackets.com Baseball Preview - UVA

With February 22nd looming, it's time once again to take a look at the 2008 ACC race. The preseason polls are out and they're all suggesting a six team race for the ACC title and a chance to host regional play in the postseason. North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia, and Georgia Tech are the six teams we will take a look at in this year's review.

Coach John O'Connor's Virginia Cavaliers enter the 2008 season with questions to answer similar to those at Clemson. Virginia, ranked 17th in preseason polls, must find replacements for their entire outfield, their closer, catcher and perhaps the best player on last year's team in Sean Doolittle. Sixteen new players enter the program. Fourteen are freshmen and two are transfers.

INFIELD – There's good news and bad news in the Cavalier infield. The biggest loss will be Sean Doolittle. Sean has been their starting first baseman since he arrived on campus. Although his average dropped last year to .301 he still had 53 RBI as most teams pitched around him. DH Jeremy Farrell will replace Sean at first. Farrell hit .349 in 25 games last year. Virginia returns David Adams at second. Adams was 2nd team all ACC in 2007. He's on the preseason watch list for the 2008 player of the year. Adams had a .372 average with 43 RBI in 2007. The Cavalier infield receives a big boost with the return of Greg Miclat to shortstop. Miclat was hampered by an injured shoulder which forced him to DH. Greg ended the 2007 season with a .372 batting average. Tyler Cannon filled in for Miclat at short in 2007. Cannon will move to third and share the duties there with Patrick Wingfield. Cannon hit .279 as Miclat's replacement in 2007. Wingfield hit .297. Freshman Phil Gosselin may also see some action at third.

OUTFIELD – The Virginia outfield will feature all new names as Brandon Guyer, Tim Henry, Brandon Marsh, and Mike Mitchell must all be replaced. Guyer hit .370 and had a team leading 8 HRS. Henry hit .268 in 26 games, Marsh .294 in 58 games, and Mitchell .299 in 41 games. The new outfield will feature both speed and inexperience. Four true freshmen and one red shirt freshman will be competing for the outfield positions. David Coleman and Jarrett Parker appear to have the inside track for two of those positions. Dan Grovatt, John Barr, and Mark Riffer will compete for the final position. Wingfield may also see action in leftfield.

PITCHING – Jacob Thompson returns as the ace of the Cavalier staff. Thompson was 11-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 16 starts. Thompson is a preseason All-American. Matt Packer returns as the number two starter. Packer was 3-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 13 starts. Pat McAnaney and Andrew Carraway should compete for the final spot in the weekend rotation. Neal Davis, Jeff Lorick, and Robert Poutier will all have a chance to make the rotation. Virginia lost the ACC's all-time save leader, Casey Lambert, to graduation. Lambert had a 2.06 ERA in 28 appearances. Michael Schwimer and Jake Rule will be called on to replace Lambert. Schwimer was 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA. Rule was 6-4 with a 2.63 ERA. The catching job will fall to transfer Ryan Smith and Franco Valdes with the graduation of Beau Seabury and Ryan Hudson. Seabury hit .269 as the primary catcher in 2007. Smith transferred from Notre Dame and Valdes from Broward CC.

OUTLOOK – Virginia looks to shake the stigma of having very good regular seasons and then not performing well in the postseason. With the new schedules the depth in their bullpen should help them meet the demands of the new schedule. Jacob Thompson gives the Cavaliers one of the more dominant Friday starters in the league. The inexperienced outfield may be one of the keys to how far this year's team goes in the post season. Replacing Lambert as the closer will be another key to the season. Georgia Tech travels to Virginia for a key three game series May 15-17.

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